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Hi there, I'm new to this forum and hope somebody can help me.

 

I purchased a leasehold flat in September last year (2012). The company managing the building alleges that they sent their first service charge bill (for period Jan-Jun 2013) on 1 January and then a reminder on 16 January. I am sure that no bill arrived until 5 January because I was redecorating the flat and I checked the post daily in person. After 6 January, tenants moved in and they tell me they forwarded all correspondence to me (no service charge bill was forwarded to me).

 

Among the correspondence forwarded to me by the tenant was a letter from the administrators' solicitor dated 5Feb2013, stating that I am in arrears with service charge for the period 1Jan-30Jun 2013, and that I now must pay an extra £183 (on top of service charges) and that they will take me to court if I don't pay by 19 February.

 

I spoke to their solicitor (who signed the letter) that there was no question about payment (of course I'll pay and promptly). However, I am appalled that they wrote such threatening letter, even though I am sure the bill dated 1 January was not delivered (because I checked the post myself) and I am pretty sure the tenants did not receive the reminder either, for they would have forwarded to me as they forwarded other post. Incidentally, in previous correspondence (last year) with the administrator I had provided him with my main (permanent) address for correspondence, telephone number and email address.

 

Even more appalling in my view is that they are charging an extra £183 (on top of the normal service charge) for "administration and legal" costs (i.e. their solicitor's letter).

 

Please can someone advise me if I am being treated fairly? I feel that if only they had tried to contact me directly by phone or email this would never have happened, as all other bills that arrived in the flat (or were sent to me directly) were paid promptly and I have never been in arrears with any service before.

 

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated. Since I am dealing with their solicitor I feel the whole thing is terribly heavy-handed and full of jargon. Also, even though I could have paid this last month (if I had received the bill), it would seem that there has hardly been any delay (effectively) since the services are for the period January-June 2013, of which period only one-sixth has passed. Is there an ombudsman that could help me deal with such aggressive tactics and surcharges from property management companies?

 

Thanks in advance.

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i thought service charges were payable in advance? and once thay are 14 days late you are in arrears, why dont you set up a dd to pay every 6 months and then you wont forget?

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