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Countrywide Property Management not playing fair

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I have a property in Bexhill which I let out. The managing company are Countrywide and the ground rent is collected by Pier Management. (Nice combination, I know!) I moved my correspondence address back in Feb. I informed this to countrywide back in March while paying a cheque for the 6 monthly service charge. I did the same with Pier management, and Pier management have used the correct address since.

 

Yesterday, I received a letter from QualitySolicitors in Hull redirected from my Bexhill propery address dated 26th Nov. The letter had been previously sent to my old address on the 9th of Nov.The letter said that they had been instructed by Countrywide to issue proceedings with me unless I pay the sum of £734 pounds which included their fees of £180.00.

 

What it was that Countrywide had sent their demand of £260.15 on 3rd Sept'12 to my old address

Then followed up by another letter dated 4th Oct threatening to add an administration fees of £150.00 pounds if the account was not cleared in 10 workings days

Then again on 26th Oct stating that an administration fees of £144 has been applied

Then another fee of £150 on 7th NOV for referring to solicitors. I don't know if this was issued to my old address too.

Then QualitySolicitors then sent a letter again to my old address on the 9th of Nov asking for 734.00 (when the initial demand was for only 260 just two months ago)

 

Then QualitySolicitors sent a copy of all the above letters (which I am referring to now) to my bexhill property. My Tenants were good enough to forward the letter from them.

 

In the meanwhile on 31th July, I had called Countrywide to ask about some items in the previous years accounts. I was instructed to talk directly with my property manager who is based in Eastbourne. I wrote a email to her asking for some evidence of the work carried out. In that mail, I wrote informed her about my new correspondence address. She has acknowledged that email and sent me the evidence at my new address.

 

The reasons I want to fight these charges are because

a) The are not proportionate to what is due

b) I have informed them twice about the address change, but they have not updated their records

c) Their lease managing company Pier management had the correct address. They could have been contacted by Countrywide when they didn't receive any response to their letters

d) No effort was made to reach me over phone or email

e) If QualitySolicitors had the common sense of sending the copy of the correspondence to my Bexhill property why couldn't Countrywide.

 

What should I do now. Should I contact Countrywide and send them the cheque of £260.15 which was due initially. Shall I threaten to take them to the LTA?

What do I do with QualitySolicitors. Shall I say that I am ready to go to court?

 

Thanks for your time in advance

Andy

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yes pay the amount due and with it explain, as you have here, about the address situation and why you do accept any further charges and await their response.

Hopefully that will be the end of it.

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This is a common scenario, where a leasehold rent out a prop[erty and then suddenly finds large bills and it turns out that the demands for ground rent/service charges have been sent to the 'wrong' address, and that due to no reply various late charges/admin fees have been added on.

 

Its a bit unclear from your post.

 

Who is the freeholder ?

 

Who are the managing agent, you mention both Pier and Countrywide ?

 

Serve Charges are only payable in accordance with the lease and statute law, there are many hoops to jump through. The Lease Advice Service has lots of useful info > http://www.lease-advice.org/

 

If you have told them (although this may need clarifying whether yopu should contact Pier, Countrywide or FH) of your address for service then you shouldnt have to pay any extra admin fees etc as clearly valid demands were not served upon you.

 

So the extra admin/late fees may not be apayable because:-

 

a) They sent them to wrong address

 

b) The are not recoverabl;e under terms of lease (it has to specifically mention them)

 

c) The demand did not contain 'Adminsitration Charges - Summary of Right' (most FH's remember to include the Service Charges one but many forget the admin charges one > http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/1258/contents/made

 

d) Even if payable you can ask an LVT to judicate on their reasonablenes, in your case they sound very high.

 

As suggested you should pay any actual service charges you believe owing, the £260.

 

By LTA I assume you mean LVT ?

 

Andy

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We had a similar problem with Pier Management. suddenly got letter from Gateway in September alleging they had been our Managing Agents since January and invoicing us £800 (£400 each) They alleged that Countrywide were our previous Agents. At the same time Pier Management were trying to claim extreme Insurance costs. We challenged Pier and in response got charged hundreds of pounds inn "fees" They were rude and arrogant in our dealing with them. The last straw was a debt collectors note pinned to the front door. We issued proceedings and had all of our complaints upheld. On the day Mr D Bland conceded all the illegal and immoral fees and confirmed that Countrywide had never been our Managing Agents!!!. LVT ruled no Management fees were payable to Gateway. While providing copies of our leases to the LVT we realised that Pier and Gateway have been charging the wrong percentage of Service charge, the LVT upheld this also. Worth a read on web LVT decisions Case No CHI/29UC/LIS/2012/0076

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Rather an old |(dead) thread you have posted too but some good points made, I was reading a very similar case to yours just yesterday, the FTT (was LVT) found nothing was payable at all, its alwyas worth considering an application to the FTT if you think you have been overcharged or that the Freeholder/Managing Agent simply is not entitled to the money.

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