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Leasehold service charge arrears from previous owner


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Hi, I hope I am posting this is the right place,

 

I have recently found out that there are arrears on the service charge account on my property to the tune of £5,500. These arrears relate to major works carried out on the property before I took ownership of it. I believe they relate to works carried out in 2003. I have never directly received any information about these arrears. The Landlord's company have sent "sundry debtors account statements" addressed to the previous owner to my home so I forwarded them on to the previous owner.

 

I bought my leasehold flat 2 years ago and at the time the necessary management company/landlord questionnaires were sent to the landlord's company from my conveyancer. The questions about "any items of expenditure, which has been incurred, or is anticipated that will not be covered by the standard service charge currently being collected" came back from the landlord with the answer "n/a".

 

Another question asked was "Is it anticipated that an excess (debit balance) will be charged for the current or last financial years and, if so, what sums should we ask the seller's solicitors to retain to cover the likely deficit". Again the answer was "n/a".

 

So my conveyancer to the best of their knowledge did not foresee that there were going to been any unexpected service charges and therefore did not put in place a retaining fee.

 

Fast forward 2 years to now and suddenly when I was remortgaging the landlord's company tell the current conveyancer that the there is £5,500 in arrears.

 

Although I can't be sure it would appear that the final bill for the work carried out in 2003 came through in October 2009, after I took ownership of the property.

 

I have been told by an employee of the landlord's that they will probably try and pursue the previous owner for the money but if that is unsuccessful then they may forfeit my lease. This is obviously incredibly worrying for me and I am trying to find out where I legally stand.

 

I have spoken to the Leaseholders Advisory Service several times and they have been helpful but I am a little unsure of sending a letter to the landlords as I don't want to somehow get myself into a stickier situation by saying the wrong thing.

 

In brief the Leaseholders Advisory Service advice was that as the landlord's company have continued to take a monthly service charge from me since I moved in that in effect they have waived the right to forfeiture. They also thought that it maybe a case of non-disclosure on the part of the landlord's company as even if the final bill for the work came in after I took ownership they should still have been aware of any work that had not yet been billed for and advised my conveyancer of that.

 

Additionally they said that the "Section 21b of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985" might be relevant, but to be honest I'm not sure I understand it.

 

I apologise for the long email, I thought I'd try and cram as much info in as possible!

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I really don't want to put my foot in it with the letter I am going to write to the Landlord's company.

 

Many thanks

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  • 1 year later...

Hello,

 

I am currently in the same situation, could you let me know if you manage to contest the service charges or if you had to pay them?

 

Regards

J

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