Wastn't sure where to put this post - it seemed the best fit here...
I have a freehold house in a private road that has blocks of flats in it. There is a management agent for the flats. I have lived there for 10 years and have never been asked to pay any form of service charge - in fact all the house were all individually told that there was no service charge to pay - due to some loop hole... for this post, let's presume that service charge should be payable...
I have received a letter from the flats managing agent stating:
1) They have just realised that they should have been charging me a service charge. They have said that they can only back date it for the last 6 years.
2) They have produced (without any supporting evidence, and not on any headed paper) annual grounds maintenance costs since 2003. They have added it up, divided it by the total number of flats + houses on the road and said that I owe them £1000
3) They are willing to discount this figure to £500 if all the houses pay by the end of March 2009.
4) If it's not paid they will put it with their debt collection agency.
a) How do I ascertain whether I actually need to pay a service charge ?
b) Presuming that I do have to...can they demand payment so quickly and so menacingly?
c) How many years can they actually go back?
d) What evidence of expenditure should they have produced ?
e) In this situation, i.e. a freeholder, what are the legitimate charges for service charge. How can one ensure that other bits are not just added in ?
All comments very welcome.