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View Full Version : Should I pay my Freeholder? What happens if I don't?



mazling
29-07-2009, 08:58 AM
Hi

I am billed annually for a sum of approx £650 this covers Ground rent, Buildings Insurance and Service charge.

Last winter one side of my flat was soaked with damp from guttering and drain pipes that are in great need of repair- one builder who assessed the work that needed doing advised that it was a health and safety issue due to the sanitation.

My freeholder was given quotes for work to be carried out and as far as I know myself and the two other lease holders would have been happy to contribute the exterior building work around the pipes and guttering that needed doing.

My freeholder decided to go through the Buildings insurance to see if he could claim for this work- against my advice knowing that this avenue would not be successful- it wasn't. This was in April we are now almost in August. I have chased my freeholder up a number of times to find out what is happening and he just fobs me off it seems with different stories. I have kept emails that I have sent him.

To cut to the chase I don't think he has any intention of making arrangements for the work to be done. Back in March the original builder who priced up the job said that he was just waiting to be given the okay to start the work but this never happened.

Recently when I spoke to my freeholder he just told me the same story that the Building insurers had turned down his request for the work to be claimed through buildings insurance. Whether he actually contacted them in the first place is questionable let alone anything else. He said he would get some quotes for the work. I even gave him some contacts.
I said that he needed to get the job priced and as leaseholders I understood that we all then contributed, he said he would get back to me- this was about 6 weeks ago. I have not heard anything.


Where do I stand in terms of paying my freeholder the annual fee for service charge, ground rent and buildings insurance if he is not taking on his responsibilities as a freeholder?
Can I just not pay him until he sorts it out?
Am I in a position now to get legal advice?
How can I get this work done before winter?

Thank you
40 weeks pregnant mazling

jeffrey
29-07-2009, 09:20 AM
GROUND RENT: has L submitted a valid demand, complying with format prescribed in s.166 of Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002?
If not, rent is 'suspended', i.e. not validly demanded unless and until he does.

mazling
29-07-2009, 09:30 AM
GROUND RENT: has L submitted a valid demand, complying with format prescribed in s.166 of Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002?
If not, rent is 'suspended', i.e. not validly demanded unless and until he does.

Hi Jeffrey

Pardon my ignorance as I'm not sure what a valid demand complying with the format as you described would be. Do you have a copy or do you know where I can get one from?

He does invoice me, outlining the breakdown of costs.

Thank you

jeffrey
29-07-2009, 09:37 AM
No, a mere invoice is insufficient.
If you do not receive a form headed with s.166 reference and containing statutorily-required information, the demand is invalid.

mazling
29-07-2009, 09:44 AM
No, a mere invoice is insufficient.
If you do not receive a form headed with s.166 reference and containing statutorily-required information, the demand is invalid.

Thank you.

Can I also refuse to pay if the freeholder is not taking on his 'duty of care' responsibility regarding the building work?

jeffrey
29-07-2009, 09:52 AM
Look: ground rent is quite different from service charge. I have already explained twice why you are not (yet) obliged to pay ground rent.
That is entirely separate from whether:
a. L has or has not complied with contractual obligations (in lease) re service provision; and
b. you should or should not pay service charge.

mazling
29-07-2009, 10:13 AM
Look: ground rent is quite different from service charge. I have already explained twice why you are not (yet) obliged to pay ground rent.
That is entirely separate from whether:
a. L has or has not complied with contractual obligations (in lease) re service provision; and
b. you should or should not pay service charge.

I understand that Jeffrey. I was only asking if whether I can refuse to pay service charge if the Freeholder is not fullfilling his duty?

The infornation you give about ground rent is very useful too.

jeffrey
29-07-2009, 10:15 AM
Well, at least pay the property insurance premium. You wouldn't want the building to be uninsured.

mazling
29-07-2009, 10:16 AM
Well, at least pay the property insurance premium. You wouldn't want the building to be uninsured.

Yes that makes sense.

Thank you

thevaliant
29-07-2009, 10:29 AM
1. Pay the ground rent if the demand complies with the law (as per Jeffrey)
2. Pay the insurance

Paying the service charge is up to you. Do you get to see accounts as to how it is spent?

hezekiah
29-07-2009, 10:44 AM
Well, at least pay the property insurance premium. You wouldn't want the building to be uninsured.

If a Lessee withholds their service charge instalment because the demand was not accompanied by a formal summary of rights and obligations whose content and form is prescribed by parliament. Is their dwelling still insured?

Thanks.

jeffrey
29-07-2009, 11:39 AM
That depends on:
a. the insurer;
b. the date on which the insurance is due for renewal; and
c. whether the policy is renewed!

sgclacy
29-07-2009, 14:26 PM
Well, at least pay the property insurance premium. You wouldn't want the building to be uninsured.

The landlord covenants to insure and whether he has received payment or not is not relevant. He has to do it. It would be unfair if the other lessees who have paid if their cover was withdrawn because one lessee has not paid.

This is the responsibility that goes with owning the freehold and is remunerated by management charges. The lease provides a mechanism that gives certainty that, provided the cost is incurred are reasonable and properly served, the landlord will know he can recover the costs of insurance and his litigation costs

Poppy
30-07-2009, 22:16 PM
If a Lessee withholds their service charge instalment because the demand was not accompanied by a formal summary of rights and obligations whose content and form is prescribed by parliament. Is their dwelling still insured?
The block of flats should be insured as a whole. It is illogical to exclude sections of the building.

hezekiah
31-07-2009, 12:02 PM
Thanks jeffrey,sgclacy and poppy