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Spanish Community Fees from a UK based debt collection company


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Hi,

 

I'm a new member to this forum so apologies if I have posted this in the wrong place.

 

I have just received a letter from a UK company called communityfees.com based in North Yorkshire. The letter is headed Kettlewell Solutions Ltd.

 

Basically, it relates to a Spanish property on a golfing resort that I bought in Dec 2003. However, due to financial difficulties and also the resort not being completed by the developer the whole site started to deteriorate over time. I tried to sell the property at less than half the original purchase price but it never got sold.

I tried asking the local Spanish bank, with whom I had the mortgage with, for help but they were unhelpful. Then I started defaulting on the Spanish mortgage as it was becoming unaffordable. The bank then sent a valuation guy (2009/10) to visit the property but as I was in the UK, I got the cleaner to give the keys to the valuation guy so that he could enter the property to do the valuation. After which the keys were kept by the bank/valuation guy.

Also, from about 2004 onwards the local communal areas were not being maintained yet I was sent invoices for communal charges. I kept arguing that I would pay only once they did the maintenance work for the communal area.

But since 2009/10, I have not heard anything from the bank or the community people until today when I got a letter demanding payment of unpaid community charges along with various other charges like Spanish legal fees of around 3000euros and interest of 700euros, etc.

 

Not sure how I should respond to this letter and also wanted to know if this company are legally authorised in the UK to do this sort of work?

 

Any help is appreciated as I don't know what to do and am very worried about the whole mess that I have got myself into.

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PLEASE NOTE - I am not a legal expert, what is stated is my own opinion and from what I have learnt from this forum and my own experiences.

 

DEBT COLLECTION LETTER/SAR/AGREEMENT TEMPLATES ARE HERE - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/content.php?65-legislation

 

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I have had a look at the 4 companies associated with this organisation and I can't find any OFT licence to chase debts. They do have a data licence - http://www.ico.gov.uk/ESDWebPages/DoSearch.asp?reg=5645382

PLEASE NOTE - I am not a legal expert, what is stated is my own opinion and from what I have learnt from this forum and my own experiences.

 

DEBT COLLECTION LETTER/SAR/AGREEMENT TEMPLATES ARE HERE - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/content.php?65-legislation

 

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I suggest an email to the Office Of Fair Trading

PLEASE NOTE - I am not a legal expert, what is stated is my own opinion and from what I have learnt from this forum and my own experiences.

 

DEBT COLLECTION LETTER/SAR/AGREEMENT TEMPLATES ARE HERE - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/content.php?65-legislation

 

IF WE HAVE BEEN HELPFUL -PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE GIVE A DONATION TO HELP US TO CONTINUE HELPING YOU

 

I AM HAPPY TO RECEIVE PM's AND I WILL RESPOND IF I FEEL I CAN ASSIST BUT WHEN YOU DO CAN YOU PLEASE PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD ON WHICH YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO COMMENT - THANK YOU

 

IMPORTANT - If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.

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Just been searching about this company. According to information online, they were set up in 2009, but only in 2012 were they looking to apply to join CIVEA and CSA.

 

You should view the letter received as a speculative invoice, with there being no legal basis to it. Kettlewells should be referring this back to their Spanish clients, as under Spanish Law apparently the Banks there could be responsible for many of the community fees due. Anyway it is far too complicated for any UK authority to get involved in this and Ketttlewell should not be chasing, unless it has gone through the Spanish courts and they are now looking to get the UK courts involved.

 

You don't have to respond. But if you do, you should point Kettlewells in the direction of the Spanish Bank who are responsible for the property. Advise them that the property is nothing to do with you and that Bank X have responsibility for the issue raised.

We could do with some help from you.

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Moved into the Overseas forum.

Anthrax alert at debt collectors caused by box of doughnuts

 

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Hi,

 

Firstly, thanks 42man/unclebulgaria67 & ceberusalert, I appreciate your help and advice.

 

I followed the link provided by 42man for the other reference to kettlewell for someone called ruby1 also being chased by them and that was as recent as July 2012.And it seems Kettlewell had persued ruby1 via the courts and also some solicitor in Spain had got the sheriffs office involved.

 

This is all very worrying indeed as it seems Kettlewell have the authority to chase the debt and nothing can be done to stop them.

I have received the final notice of payment from them so not sure what they will do next and when.

 

I spoke to one of owners who still owns a villa on the resort and he said that a lot of current owner have stopped paying their community fees as the Urbanisation Committee have not been providing accounts on how they are spending the money collected from the owners. Other things like street light on the resort not working for 10months, problems with cracks in the walls and pavements: electricity boxes falling out of the walls, various part of the resort not being maintained, etc.

 

How can someone go about challenging the amount of the debt?

 

Is there anyway that an independent valuation of debt can be obtained?

 

Is there anyway to stop Kettlewell progressing any further until an accurate breakdown of charges is provided?

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If they try and obtain a CCJ in the UK you should contest the jurisdiction of the court as it's a Spanish debt covered by Spanish law, if a UK court decided to allow it to be heard it would have to be done using Spanish law. They may try for a European Payment Order, you could contest that too.

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If you search online about these community fees, there are comments that these UK community fee companies are not collecting that much. Some reports suggest that Spanish banks who have repossessed properties on these developments have been paying community fees, as under Spanish law they are responsible.

 

I would not worry too much, as I doubt anything will happen. Don't believe what these companies tell you. If you are daft enough to pay them anything, you will be admitting liability and it would make it much easier for them to enforce the debt.

We could do with some help from you.

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Thanks again for your comments.

 

I spoke to the National Debt Line who also gave a lot of assurance about the whole process and suggested that I work out an income and expenditure chart to see what I could afford to pay back each month and then contact the debt recovery company to see if they will accept that amount.

 

They said that a EU debt can be enforced in the UK as we are a part of it.

 

Anyway, I was thinking that maybe I should ask the debt collection company to provide me with a copy of the original agreement signed by me relating to the community fees - is this a good idea to start with?

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They said that a EU debt can be enforced in the UK as we are a part of it.
Theoretically yes but in practice it's not that easy, as I said in post #8.

 

Anyway, I was thinking that maybe I should ask the debt collection company to provide me with a copy of the original agreement signed by me relating to the community fees - is this a good idea to start with?
Yes. In the unlikely event they did try to pursue through a court they would need to show you were responsible for any debt.

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Thanks again for your comments.

 

I spoke to the National Debt Line who also gave a lot of assurance about the whole process and suggested that I work out an income and expenditure chart to see what I could afford to pay back each month and then contact the debt recovery company to see if they will accept that amount.

 

They said that a EU debt can be enforced in the UK as we are a part of it.

 

Anyway, I was thinking that maybe I should ask the debt collection company to provide me with a copy of the original agreement signed by me relating to the community fees - is this a good idea to start with?

 

Sounds like very bad advice. How can someone from National Debtline comment on whether there is any liability for a debt in Spain, when the situation with these developments can be very complicated. Perhaps they did not comment on this and only said that if you were 100% liable, then you should make arrangements.

 

Anyway you are doing the right thing by asking for proof that under Spanish law that you have any liability for the amount they are chasing. When you get any letter back from the debt company, do not take their word for it, as often claims can be made, which are not legally correct. Ideally you want some proof from the Spanish legal system that you are responsible for this debt.

We could do with some help from you.

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Hi Guys,

 

I have made an appointment with my local Citizens Advice to get more help and will let you know what happens.

It's been really good discussing my situation with you guys and your positive words have helped me a great deal.

I really appreciate you all taking the time and effort to comment, it really does help.

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  • 2 weeks later...

An update on my situation. Spoke to Citizens Advice bureau but they weren't much help as they had no experience with overseas debt.

 

I also called OFT and they did a search on the DCA and told me that they do NOT hold a consumer credit licence but OFT were not able to provide any further info and said it was best to discuss this DCA with my local trading standards.

 

I asked the OFT that if they are licensed then should they be able to sent out such threatening letters but OFT said they could not advise as they were not licensed by them. Can this really be true?

 

I thought OFT would be able to deal with this matter as the DCA is a registered UK company and even if the debt being chased is in euros the DCA would need a licence before they can send out letters i the UK.[/size]

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DCAs cannot collect debts in the UK unless they are licensed.

 

The daft thing is it's the OFT that have to bring an action against them but they won't do that until you make a complaint to Trading Standards who then report it back to the OFT.

 

The OFT will not deal with the public as such but they will record any complaints they receive.

Anthrax alert at debt collectors caused by box of doughnuts

 

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I've just done a bit of digging & communityfees.com is a trading name of Kettlewell Solutions Limited http://companycheck.co.uk/company/06267169 run by these two characters http://companycheck.co.uk/company/06267169#people-tab who have directorships in these companies;

 

Company SummaryCompany Name Company Status

COMMUNITY FEES LIMITED Active

COMMUNITY FEES SPAIN LIMITED Active

HK COLLECTIONS LTD Active

KETTLEWELL SOLUTIONS LTD Active http://www.creditgate.com/companies/08062674.aspx

 

I see they have very upmarket offices. ;)

 

 

30w1bhc.jpg

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Think the OP should ask Trading Standards to check on what basis this company are operating as debt collectors. I am sure that it is all above board, but worth checking. I found this forum comment below from one of the directors of this company, but when checking the CSA and CIVEA members lists, I could not find them. Presume it takes awhile for membership to go through or they have not continued with this.

 

Posted on 8/5/2012 on a Spanish related forum.

 

"Thank you for the response and your support Mr Parkinson. It is greatly appreciated.

At present we are going through the process to become members of CIVEA, (Civil Enforcement Association) and the CSA (Credit Services Association).

These organisations have strict codes of practice and standards to adhere to. We work with over 300 clients and have from the outset ensured we work to our own strict guidelines but we feel it is important for us to be part of organisations that can regulate our work and aid the continual development of the people we employ.

We have looked into similar bodies that operate in Spain, and have come into contact with FENCA and the ECA (European Collectors Association) and we will be exploring membership with those bodies. We would be grateful, if anyone could recommend any other professional bodies that operate in Europe.

Hope this helps.

Stephen "

We could do with some help from you.

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I am not familiar with companies registration processes, but was surprised that for 3 out of the 4 companies I found that no details were on the Companies house site for the nature of business. According to the Data Protection registration Z1839434, they are registered for the activities they appear to be involved with.

COMMUNITY FEES SPAIN LIMITED

ST JAMES LODGE

MASONIC LANE

THIRSK

UNITED KINGDOM

YO7 1PS

Company No. 08062019

 

Nature of Business (SIC):

None Supplied

 

KETTLEWELL SOLUTIONS LTD

BUSHELLS

6 VICTORIA AVENUE

HARROGATE

NORTH YORKSHIRE

UNITED KINGDOM

HG1 1ED

Company No. 06267169

 

Nature of Business (SIC):

70229 - Management consultancy activities other than financial management

 

COMMUNITY FEES LIMITED

ST JAMES LODGE

MASONIC LANE

THIRSK

NORTH YORKSHIRE

UNITED KINGDOM

YO7 1PS

Company No. 08061950

Nature of Business (SIC):

None Supplied

 

HK COLLECTIONS LTD

6 VICTORIA AVENUE

HARROGATE

UNITED KINGDOM

HG1 1ED

Company No. 08062674

Nature of Business (SIC):

None Supplied

We could do with some help from you.

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Anthrax alert at debt collectors caused by box of doughnuts

 

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Cerb

 

Your ICO link is for a different company.

 

This is the correct no.

Z1839434Date Registered: 13 July 2009 Registration Expires: 12 July 2013

 

Data Controller: KETTLEWELL SOLUTIONS LIMITED

 

Address:

6 VICTORIA AVENUE

HARROGATE

NORTH YORKSHIRE

HG1 1ED

Other Names:

COMMUNITY FEES

KSOLHR

KETTLEWELL ASSOCIATES

We could do with some help from you.

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I could find no OFT record for these companies and I would have thought that they would have to have a Consumer Credit Licence, if they were chasing for debts in the UK.

 

Stephen Kettlewell was a solicitor, so I don't know whether they have a different type of registration for the business.

We could do with some help from you.

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Well in that case they are not registered with the ICO either so a complaint should be made to them too for breach of the Data Protection Act.

Anthrax alert at debt collectors caused by box of doughnuts

 

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http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-kettlewell/20/88a/8a1

 

Gaining a reputation I see http://www.eyeonspain.com/forums/posts-long-15657.aspx

 

The only reference I can find is http://www.lcs-test.co.uk/sra/198839.htm Oddly enough neither of the pages the links lead to are showing.

 

I can't find any registration on the SRA site or info about his disciplinary hearing.

 

Another trading name which doesn't appear to have the correct registrations http://www.kettlewellassociates.co.uk/

 

Seems to have a finger in many pies http://www.sunzu.com/stephenkettlewell-303337

Anthrax alert at debt collectors caused by box of doughnuts

 

Make sure you do not post anything which identifies you. Although we can remove certain things from the site unless it's done in a timely manner everything you post will appear in Google cache & we do not have any control over that.

 

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I find this all very puzzling. On the Community Fees website it suggest that they will issue a High Court claim for a European Enforcement order (EEO), if the president of the Community authorises this and pays the relevant court fees. There is an FAQ which suggests that if the EEO is successfully defended that this is the end of the collection process and the Community will be responsible for any costs. My understanding is that it is fairly easy to defend if the debt was in dispute or there is some issue, which needs to be addressed by the Spanish courts. Once a dispute is registered and accepted, then it is back to the Community concerned to use the Spanish courts and then try to use the UK courts to enforce here. The president of a Community would I think be unlikely to authorise legal costs to be incurred, as according to reports many of these Communities have enough of a problem on their hands.

 

Hope the OP reports this to Trading Standards and they do investigate to find out the basis that this company is operating. Hopefully the OP will report back to update the thread.

 

I am getting the same feeling as I had about ACS Law and the speculative invoice type processes. There are many companies set up to chase for European Community fees and I should imagine that people do pay them under the threat of legal proceedings.

Edited by unclebulgaria67

We could do with some help from you.

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Hi cerberusalert & unclebulgaria67,

 

Firstly, thanks again for all your comments and advise.

 

I got a call from my local Trading Standards after I had emailed them yesterday.

According to Trading Standards this DCA should not be carrying out this activity as they are not licensed.

Trading Standards said they will start an investigation into this company which may take some time.

 

Will update this forum when I get anymore info from Trading Standards.

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