Marc Gander - The Consumer Survival Handbook


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Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Default Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Hello everybody, i'm having a similar issue with Simarc; interestingly they quoted the same rhetoric to me about that court case from another thread "CAM/00KG/LVA/2013/0001"

    My situation is that i filled out their online form and gave my email address; in so doing I apparently agreed to receive future GR notifications by email. I left my company and forgot to update the email address (my bad); they sent the GR demand for 125 and clearly it bounced back as i didnt exist any more. They did nothing else, then 4 weeks later, they charged 96 adminicon fee.

    I've written to them asking for a copy of the original email and attachments (to see if it has the attachments you reference); I've also asked them to summarise the work they did when in their response they said "As a result of non payment [of the GR] additional costs were incurred in recovering payment of the arrears. We regret that we are unable to reimburse charges incurred"

    I've paid the adminicon fee so i'm not time bound on this one but i want to know if it is worth going to tribunal. Presumably tribunal will cost me about 50 quid, so i'm arguing over 46 quid and I dont know if it's worth it even though the principal is.

    all help gratefully received;
    Pete Ads


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    I can't understand why you agreed to pay a £96 adminicon fee.
    It has to be an unenforceable fee if it is being applied for a late payment.
    I would inform them that you now realise that the adminicon fee is extortionate and unless they can justify it by a detailed invoice showing a complete breakdown of the total, that you will be applying the money made in error to the outstanding balance of the ground rent.



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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    I see that there are complaints about their charges elsewhere as well - http://www.justanswer.com/uk-propert...d-dispute.html

    You can either go along with it - or stand up to them. I know which I would do.

    http://www.reviewcentre.com/Property...eviews_1669665

    https://uk.local.yahoo.com/United_Ki...-23424975.html

    http://www.yell.com/biz/simarc-prope...mwood-5562266/



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  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BankFodder View Post
    I can't understand why you agreed to pay a £96 adminicon fee.
    It has to be an unenforceable fee if it is being applied for a late payment.
    I would inform them that you now realise that the adminicon fee is extortionate and unless they can justify it by a detailed invoice showing a complete breakdown of the total, that you will be applying the money made in error to the outstanding balance of the ground rent.
    I don't want them to send collectors around for a small amount but I don't want to be overcharged. I have told them the payment was made under duress and requested a detailed breakdown but they claim they don't need to provide a justification or detail.

    How much would a hearing fee be if I take this to tribunal, I'm only quibbling the 96 and it's reasonableness.


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Default

    Thanks for the replies everyone, if I can prove the email address bounces back, is it their responsibility to subsequently write to me? The email address definitely bounces back so they will have received a 'return to sender' response. They send lease extension fee mandates by post so they know how to contact me


  6. #6
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Angry Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    I've attached the lease details from when i bought the place and also the last copy of a ground rent demand i had from 2y ago. Nowhere that I can see (including s13.1 of the lease) does it mention an adminicon charge, it mentions interest at the applicable rate, but given the adminicon fee was 80% of the overall ground rent, i cant believe anyone would think that would be reasonable. Simarc are really dumb, I wouln't quibble a 5% APR payable for the 30 something days i was delinquent, that would be about 50p probably, but going for a flat fee of 96 which i guess is 80 + VAT is exorbitant.

    All help gratefully received,
    Pete Ads

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Quote Originally Posted by BankFodder View Post
    I can't understand why you agreed to pay a £96 adminicon fee.
    It has to be an unenforceable fee if it is being applied for a late payment.
    I would inform them that you now realise that the adminicon fee is extortionate and unless they can justify it by a detailed invoice showing a complete breakdown of the total, that you will be applying the money made in error to the outstanding balance of the ground rent.
    Not quite accurate, the lease (contract) may say that a fee is payable for late payment charges so it MAY be legally payable depending on the wording of the lease and relevavnt staute laws, the FTT (LVT) has the power to decide even if payable whether its a reasonable amount, normall for sending a single letter they may conclude its too high. Although uit doutbful whether it would be worth the hassle/expense to apply to the FTT for a single fee alone.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    I dont think your email argument has any merit to it, it would be upto you to inform them of change of address/email, its NOT upto them to check for bounced back emails.

    Having said that, for the extra dmin charge to be payable they must of sent you the Administration Charges - Summary Of Rights (as per here > http://www.lease-advice.org/publicat...nt.asp?item=89), I was helping someone else is same position and the adminicon Charges - Summary sent DID NOT comply as the Font size was smaller than Point 10.

    Having looked at the lease quickly, its does look like Page 30 Paragraph 6 could allow them to recover adminicon charges, this may need some further careful reading.

    You should write to them and ask them what clause allows them to recover adminicon costs and see what they say. In any event you could ask an FTT (LVT) to decide whether £96 is too high, Its prob not worth applying to an FTT as the it would be worth the cost (or time off work/paperwork), etc.


  9. #9
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    thanks AndyDD, can i refuse to pay the adminicon charge until they provide me with the information requested (ie what clause, what breakdown etc); Simarc are famous for ignoring correspondence when it suits them, so I'd like to ensure that I force them into replying. I dont think it will be worth going to LVT as i wont recover costs and as you say that outweighs the 96 it's cost me, but i dont want to let the shisters win.

    Is there some regulatory governing body I can complain to if they dont reply to my requests for example?

    thanks in advance,
    p


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    HHmm. Generally the advice in disputes is to pay under protest and then try and claim money back later, there are cases where people withold but after various legal action the amoumnt they owe is increased a lot, many leases (including yours) contain clauses that allow FH'ers to reclaim any legal costs, even if they win or lose, this can be a killer clause and force leaseholders to pay huge bills !

    Alas no governing bodies as such, although think there is legislation to introduce some.

    There is Arma - http://arma.org.uk/ , of which Simarc may or may not be a member.

    There is aslo the RICS Code of which they are supposed to abide, but with no real punishment if they dont.

    To be honest, in your situation and having read the lease you dont have much argument about the fee, IMO they are entitled to charge it BUT its is IMO too high and should be in the region of £25, you could pay the £96 but say you may dispute it at a FTT in the future or for example pay £25, say that you believe it is a reasonable amount in line with LVT/FTT decisions and invite them to make a FTT application should they decide.

    Its prob best to do one of the above and dont just pay nothing.


  11. #11
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Thanks again AndyDD, how about the letter below for example?

    ---

    Dear Simarc,

    With regard to your adminicon fee of 80+VAT for a delayed ground rent payment that I paid under duress, I have now consulted independent legal advice on your suggestion and this fee is unreasonable.

    Having reviewed recent LVT/FTT decisions for cases similar to my own, a fee of 25+VAT has previously been found to be reasonable by LVT/FTT tribunals. For this reason, I offer 30 GBP (25+VAT) as a Full and finalicon settlement.

    The case you referenced in your original note where 80+VAT was found reasonable was in a different and far more complex case. Further, looking at the most recent Ground Rent bill you sent - in the “fees and charges” section, it lists arrears letters as being charged “from 15+VAT”. For this reason, my offer of 25+VAT is believed to be reasonable.

    If you consider my offer above to be unreasonable, you are welcome to file an FTT application.

    Please respond to this email (also sent by mail to your registered office) if you disagree.

    Thanks,

    name



  12. #12
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Re-Reading your first post I see that youve paid the original adminicon fee of £96, is that correct ?. In which case the above doesnt really make sense, it should say something like, "Refund me £66".

    Actually I was just having a read of the relevant Ground Rent demand law here > http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/15/section/166 but not sure if it helps, I thought it said Must be sent by post but it say 'May'.

    You prob should not of agreed to receive email demands from Simarc, it doesnt benefit you (only them) and its too easy for the scenario you are in to happen.

    I'm sure there have been similar cases regarding emails, Ill try and find some.


  13. #13
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    thanks, I'll say that the 66 owing will be offset against my next payment (which is due in a couple of weeks). other than that?


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Did you answer my question from post #8 "Having said that, for the extra adminicon charge to be payable they must of sent you the Administration Charges - Summary Of Rights (as per here > http://www.lease-advice.org/publicat...nt.asp?item=89), I was helping someone else is same position and the adminicon Charges - Summary sent DID NOT comply as the Font size was smaller than Point 10."

    If you havnt received the demand for the extra adminicon charges (not the GR itself) ACCOMPANIED WITH THIS > http://www.lease-advice.org/publicat...nt.asp?item=89 then the extra admin charge is not payable, the last person i helped, the demand sent by Simarc did not comply as the font size was too small.

    BUt having said that you still have the problem of getting the money back, offsetting would appear to be a reasonable way of doing it, but tread carefully, as the lease does appear to allow them to recover legal costs..this can apply even if you win legal action (although read up on S20C applications that can stop this).


  15. #15
    Basic Account Holder Pete Ads Novitiate



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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Quote Originally Posted by andydd View Post
    Did you answer my question from post #8 ....
    I didn't receive either sadly because of the email address mixup, but I have an old one (non compliant) and I'm due to pay the next instalment which I shall delay to see if the latest demand now complies. i did ask for the originals for the one for which I was fined to be sent but Simarc is doing their usual ignore trick that others have complained about. I'm wondering whether to just sue them through small claimsicon court or can I complain to the building owner to appoint another company since they're not responsive or ask for another company to be appointed or.... What's the way I can cause maximum grief to Simarc since they're just hiding behind ignoring emails


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Yes..its you didnt receive the docs but I suspect that Simarc may be in the clear but saying that they sent to email address you gave and therefore deemed sent.

    A CC claim maybe succesfull but dont think its worth the risk, the best method would be to save up a number of grievances/overpayments and then make a single LVT/FTT application, this is what I did, mostly succesfully but I dont really like LVT, they made some wierd decisions in my case and many complain they make contradictory decisions.

    By building owner, you mean Freeholder ?, I think that Simarc are the manageing agent from what I recall.

    Your options are limited here, you can join other leaseholders and form a ltd company and take over the management of the building by forming a RTM (Right To Manage) company.

    You can do the above AND own the freehold by forming an RTE (Right To Enfranchise) company but the freehold cost may high, many thousands.

    You can use LVT/FTT to force a new management company, this is pretty rare and use must show that they are seriously poor.


  17. #17
    Basic Account Holder little_miss_welsh Novitiate



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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Am also having exact same problem with Simarc due to not receiving emails. I havent paid anything as yet. They are now trying to charge me £108 inc VAT. The clause in the lease they are trying to claim is attached - clause 3. I think its a bit wooly - it mainly covers entering the property which also doesnt sound wholly legal. They sent the summary of rights, which ive attached - but can anyone tell me if it satisifes the point 10 condition? I dont think it does, but as its a PDFicon I cant tell. Has anyone ever been 'let off' due to the font size 10 issue? Any help appreciated. They are about as communicative as a rock!

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Hi.

    You prob should start your own thread for this.

    So I assume that the scan above is exactly as you received it, a single A4 Sheet (or has the scanning made it smaller ?), was there another sheet with Paragraphs (9-11) ?

    Anyway it looks far smaller that Point 10 to me.

    If you go here > http://www.jpclaw.co.uk/uploads/New%20LVT%20Changes.PDF you will see the proper size.

    Reading Clause 3, the 'although no formal demand' bit isnt true as the law overides this and says you MUST be given a demand but I think alas it prob does allow them to add on adminicon/late payment charges BUT its irrelevant as the adminicon Summary is too small so nothing is payable untill they send one (so its wise not to mention this to them unless you have to !).

    I think this is another warning DO NOT agree to to email demands, insist they post them in the normal way.

    I'd make sure you pay the Ground Rent (unless you are 100% certain a demand was not sent).


  19. #19
    Basic Account Holder little_miss_welsh Novitiate



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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    Thanks for the reply AndyRe the rent demand this is a printed copy of an emailed demand, I dont ever remember receiving the physical copy but they did email it to the email address i no longer used. No paragraphs 9-11 - i didnt even realise there were more missing? Am I missing them as the property is in Wales, not England and therefore it doesnt apply?Where do I go with the font size 10 issue? You mention "its wise not to mention this to them unless you have to" - can i ask what you mean exactly. As they havent provided this to date can they subsequently supply it in a minimum size 10 and therefore get round this point?I have offered to pay the ground rent alone and sort out their 'adminicon fee' seperately but they wont allow - as before you have to pay online and you can only pay the full amount including the charge on there, or send a chequeAnd agree, I will be disabling my 'online' account with them - they can demand everything from me through the post after thisThanks


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Ground rent admin charges (Simarc)

    HHmm..
    Looking at the legislation, Wales does differ in a number of points.

    The full version for Wales is here > http://www.legislation.gov.uk/wsi/20...ulation/2/made

    This would seem to imply that it should be in both Welsh AND English, and yes, there is no 9-11 for the Welsh version, so I'd say its not valid coz it doesnt include the welsh version AND also its still smaller than point 10.

    In theory you dont have to do anything, theyve sent you an invalid demand and you therefore have a right to withold payment of the late payment/adminicon charge.

    I said dont mention it to them coz if you do, they could simply fix the errors and re-send it and then it would be payable *

    You could either do nothing or write and say that the demand is not valid (but dont say exactly why).

    I did the latter, they wroite back asking why but I didnt reply, they eventually started a court claim (for ground rent and other charges) but theyd made so many mistakes that I applied for Su,m,mary Judgement (to throw out their case early), it didnt go to a hearing as they withdrew their case and paid my costs.

    * Any service charge or adminicon charge can be challanged at a First Tier Tribunal (FTT) (Previoulsy Leasehold Valuation Tribunal - LVT), you can challamnge that it is not payable at all (from reading your lease, I think youd lose this) OR that the amount is too high, generally FTT's have previoulsy agreed that the cost of sending you a reminder notice would be about £25 NOT £100 +, Ive helped someone else with exact same issue and Simarc pointing to some flawed FTT/LVT decisions, I helped guy write back and argue and theyve since shut up.

    So your main options are to do nothing (as demand is invalid you have right not to pay), or you can make FTT application BUT the cost and work involved isnt really worth it (its best to save up lots of disputes (going back 6/12 years) and make a single application.

    Let me know if you do want to write to them (this can often look good in future if it went to court/FTT)



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