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usman330

Regalty/Plumlife Estates.have made up £702 in charges and demand payment

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I own an apartment which I used to live in around 5 years ago before I moved into a house with my girlfriend, since then it has been let out and I have been paying all of the annual maintenance fees. I gave them my new correspondence address and they have been sending letters for the annual maintenance fees since then.

 

In January 2012 the current management company took over from the previous management company. In May 2012 they applied a £114 late payment fee to my account. I disputed this, didn’t pay the fee and asked them to waive it. They did not respond and they have not chased me for this £114 since then.

 

As the years went by I continued paying the annual maintenance to the present day, I am up to date with this and they have not sent me any letters until I received a letter dated 27 September 2016 where they state that I owe them £978.04 and they will shortly be commencing legal proceedings. I emailed them asking for an explanation and they have emailed over a sheet which explains how they have come to the £978.04:

 

Extracts from their document:

 

28 May 12 – late payment fee £114

 

01 Jul 15 – general maintenance reserves including section 20 works £208.38 - paid 10/10/16

 

01 Jul 15 – insurance excess reserve £67.66 - paid 10/10/16

 

18 Feb 16 – legal fees re section 146 procedure £450

 

27 Sep 16 – administration fee £138

 

Total: £978.04 of which £702 is fees/charges

 

 

I paid the one-off ‘general maintenance reserve’ and the ‘insurance excess reserve’ today as these seem to be acceptable charges relating to running the building. However, it seems they have added fees/charges/fines to the ‘reserves’ costs which they believe I have deliberately not paid but in reality I didn’t even know about the charges as they did not send me any letters about them.

 

So I supposedly now owe them £114 late payment fee from 2012, £450 section 146 charge from Feb 2016 and £138 admin fee from Sep 2016. Total of £702 in charges which seems extortionate.

 

I must stress they have not been sending me letters in regards to any of these ‘charges/administrative fees’ or the ‘reserves’ charges from 2015. I am totally up to date with all of my management fees and I would have paid the ‘reserves’ from 2015 if they had sent me a letter.

 

I have told them that they have not sent me letters and they said they have. I have checked the address they sent them to and it is correct. I cannot believe they are threatening me with legal action – had I known about the 2015 ‘reserves’ charges I would have paid them just like I always pay my annual maintenance charge, and now they have added so many costs.

 

How can I stop them taking this to court?

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Name names

 

Sorry I should have mentioned,the management company are Regalty Estates and before they took over in 2012 it was Plumlife estates.

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Dear Regalty Estates,

I suggest you stop trying to apply penalty fees to my account and threaten me with your nonsensical letters.

I wish you all the best in trying to obtain this money in a court of law.

All legal actions will be robustly defended and costs will be assigned at court discretion for any claim you might decide to waste money on.

Please consider this my final position on the matter; any further communication unless part of court proceedings will be deemed harassment and dealt with accordingly.

 

(no regards or nothing, just your name)

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Before all that, write a simple letter saying the contents of their last letter are duly noted. And you require a FULL and comprehensive breakdown of the amount owed and what the amounts are allocated to. Refusal or non compliance to do so will be brought as evidence in court.

 

You have to remember, many management companies are sham companies set up to milk money off homeowners. Show them you wont be messed around and you know your rights, and they normally back off.

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Before all that, write a simple letter saying the contents of their last letter are duly noted. And you require a FULL and comprehensive breakdown of the amount owed and what the amounts are allocated to. Refusal or non compliance to do so will be brought as evidence in court.

 

You have to remember, many management companies are sham companies set up to milk money off homeowners. Show them you wont be messed around and you know your rights, and they normally back off.

 

Thank you so much for all the replies. This had me quite worried.

I will do as has been suggested and report back what they say.

 

I am totally up to date with all of the actual management fees so I guess they cannot just go to court without informing me? The letter they sent me said the following :

 

'failure to settle the full outstanding debt within 14 says will result in debt recovery proceedings being issued in the county court with no further reference to you and we shall issue a claim for the arrears plus the current annual charge in full. This will also result in legal costs,disbursements and interest being added to your account as appropriate. To avoid this action you must contact us immediately'

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Before all that, write a simple letter saying the contents of their last letter are duly noted. And you require a FULL and comprehensive breakdown of the amount owed and what the amounts are allocated to. Refusal or non compliance to do so will be brought as evidence in court.

 

You have to remember, many management companies are sham companies set up to milk money off homeowners. Show them you wont be messed around and you know your rights, and they normally back off.

 

100% true!

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Thank you so much for all the replies. This had me quite worried.

I will do as has been suggested and report back what they say.

 

I am totally up to date with all of the actual management fees so I guess they cannot just go to court without informing me? The letter they sent me said the following :

 

'failure to settle the full outstanding debt within 14 says will result in debt recovery proceedings being issued in the county court with no further reference to you and we shall issue a claim for the arrears plus the current annual charge in full. This will also result in legal costs,disbursements and interest being added to your account as appropriate. To avoid this action you must contact us immediately'

 

It's a bluff.

They don't want to get exposed in court, so this is just an empty threat.

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Brilliant. Does the below seem okay:

 

Dear Regalty Estates,

 

The contents of your letter dated 27/09/16 have been duly noted. Your 27/09/16 letter is the first letter I have received which requests payment of the ‘reserves’ and now that I am aware of these they have been paid. In regards to ‘management fees’ and ‘reserves’ my account is up to date and no payments are due.

 

The late payment fee/legal fees/administrative fees amounting to £702.00 are not recognised. I require a FULL and comprehensive breakdown of the amount owed and what the amounts are allocated to. Refusal or non compliance to do so will be brought as evidence in court.

 

Regards.

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I'd do simpler and to the point.

 

Dear xxxx,

 

In regards to your correspondance dated xx/xx/xxxx the contents of which are duly noted. I require a full and comprehensive breakdown of the amounts you allege are owed to you along with how the amounts are related to each point. Failure to provide me with this information will mean no further communication will be entered into and any legal action on your behalf will be fully defended with your non compliance forming part of the defence."

 

Sincerely xxx

 

 

They will be very aware they MUST comply with the pre-action protocol, along with providing said documentation. it's 99% certain theyre bluffing you, but you need to make sure everything is in order just incase theyre stupid enough to issue a claim.

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Thanks. I sent them the above a couple of days ago and they have replied with the following:

'

Dear Sir

 

You have been provided with a statement on 7 October detailing the amounts outstanding. If you are unsure about this then please let me know which items you are unsure about and I shall clarify these.

 

Kind Regards

 

Liam Green LLM (Hons)

Solicitor

'

They did send me some sort of ledger/document as he says, and I did extract the information from it for the original post to work out how they have come to the figure they allege I owe them. This is what I took from the ledger which comes to the figure:

 

28 May 12 – late payment fee £114

18 Feb 16 – legal fees re section 146 procedure £450

27 Sep 16 – administration fee £138

 

As you can see the charges/fees/ admin costs are not broken down.

 

 

I am wondering what I should reply,

should I be asking them to break down each individual fee/charge into exact amounts of work they have done to get to the charge's?

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so they taken you to court already? [ re sols/legal fess?]

 

 

you need to look on your tenancy agreement to see if these 'fees' are chargeable.

 

 

typically any 'penalty' fees which these are

are NOT enforceable under FCA rules they are unlawful.

 

 

dx

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No they have not taken me to court as of yet but put the charge on my account already.

I will try and find a copy of my lease to see if they can do this. If I ask them for a copy of the lease do they have to supply it ?

 

I am totally up to date with all the service charges/management fees.

Edited by usman330

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then they cant charge any legal or sols fees until they do

 

 

looks like to me the whole lot is bogus

but you'll need to check your lease.

 

 

read a few like threads here

you'll get the idea

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I emailed them asking for an extract from the lease which shows these ' admin' charges are valid, they have responded with:

 

'Paragraph 1.2 of Part I of the Third Schedule of the Lease says as follows:

"To pay to the Lessor or the Management Company as the case may be on a full indemnity basis all costs and expenses incurred by the Lessor or the Management Company or their respective solicitors in enforcing the payment of any Rent or Service Charge or Service Charge Adjustment or Additional Contribution or other monies payable by the Lessee under the terms of the Lease"

 

Another point to note - I received a letter from them a few days ago in regards to an unrelated matter about maintenance in the building.

They have addressed my name incorrectly, my first name is Usman but they have spelt it 'Hussman', with the surname and address being correct. Could I use this as an argument as to why I have not been receiving their demands for payment, the original matter stems from them me not receiving their demands for payment.'

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'Paragraph 1.2 of Part I of the Third Schedule of the Lease says as follows:

"To pay to the Lessor or the Management Company as the case may be on a full indemnity basis all costs and expenses incurred by the Lessor or the Management Company or their respective solicitors in enforcing the payment of any Rent or Service Charge or Service Charge Adjustment or Additional contributionicon or other monies payable by the Lessee under the terms of the Lease"

 

Reading the above carefully, it says 'all costs and expenses incurred'. And looking at what they are actually trying to charge me for:

 

28 May 12 – late payment fee £114

18 Feb 16 – legal fees re section 146 procedure £450

27 Sep 16 – administration fee £138

 

I don't know how they have 'incurred' £114 and £138 for late payment/administration fees. And legal fees cost of £450 cannot have been incurred by them as I have not been taken to court.

 

Can anyone help with the best way to respond to them? Really appreciated.

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'Paragraph 1.2 of Part I of the Third Schedule of the Lease says as follows:

"To pay to the Lessor or the Management Company as the case may be on a full indemnity basis all costs and expenses incurred by the Lessor or the Management Company or their respective solicitors in enforcing the payment of any Rent or Service Charge or Service Charge Adjustment or Additional contributionicon or other monies payable by the Lessee under the terms of the Lease"

 

Reading the above carefully, it says 'all costs and expenses incurred'. And looking at what they are actually trying to charge me for:

 

28 May 12 – late payment fee £114

18 Feb 16 – legal fees re section 146 procedure £450

27 Sep 16 – administration fee £138

 

I don't know how they have 'incurred' £114 and £138 for late payment/administration fees. And legal fees cost of £450 cannot have been incurred by them as I have not been taken to court.

 

Can anyone help with the best way to respond to them? Really appreciated.

 

Well, a long legged secretary costs money and every time she hits a key on the keyboard it's a fiver gone.

Answering the phone is a tenner and then a pound per second.

That's how they came up with their fees...

 

 

Tongue in cheek in case someone thinks I'm being serious 😂

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Update after a lengthy period!

 

 

So, I ignored all the demands for payment of these 'charges' and just continued paying the managing agent charge, they did send a few emails threatening court action but nothing happened.

Recently found out that Regalty being replaced as managing agents and another firm is taking over. I received a letter from Regalty where they are once again chasing the 'debt' as no doubt they want to cash in as much as they can before they are replaced as managing agents on 28 June 2018.

 

 

 

The letter is titled ' pre action protocol in relation to service charge debt'

I can guess what they are doing is trying to state any payments I have made were applied to the ' admin charges' first, hence I am behind on my service charge. I have never had any intention of paying off their 'charges' and any payments I have made have been towards the actual managing agents fee, not to the 'charges'.

 

 

They have asked me to reply to this pre action protocol within 30 days, im on about day 27 now. The letter has various forms attached asking if I agree/dont agree with the debt etc.

They have written if I do nothing then £125+vat legal and admin costs will be added to my account and a court summons with further costs.

 

 

Should I just ignore it again?

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well, they know they wont get their charges past a judge in a defended claim so it could say anything and then hope that yopu fail to respond to a court claim so they win by default.

 

 

You could respond with a simple denial that the debt exists and they have misappropriated funds paid for the management fees without authority.

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Didnt see this the first time around...

 

Despite some previous posts saying otherwise..a Freeholder MAY be able to charge extra admin fees BUT only if the lease allows (does yours ?), most older leases do not but some newer ones have clauses about late payment & extra fees, etc

 

Note though that the lease is a contract between you and Freeholder NOT management company (unless its a rarer tripartite lease in which management agent is also a party), otherwise the MC just does the FHs bidding, there is no direct contract between you and MC and he has no right to sue.

 

Even if he clears the above hurdles, admin fees must be correctly demanded in accordance with > https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/summaries-rights-obligations-administration-charges-england/

 

Also you can ask an FTT if they are "reasonable" (assuming they are payable under the lease & MC has right to sue).

 

Also of relevance is new legislation asking FTT to disallow any such fees (cant recall exact legislation at the mo but its similar to previous S20C order for service charges)

 

You mention S146 earlier, thjis seems wrong coz only a FH can go down forfeit path and also it cant be done if amount is less that £350 (for admin charges this amount CANT be made up of late payment or any sort of legal/.default fee..so in reality going down forfeit path for ONLY admin charges is nearly impossible).

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