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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 19430
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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hello XXXXX purchased my leasehold property in aug 2008

Resolved Question:

hello XXXXX purchased my leasehold property in aug 2008 and since that time the freeholder has been missing non contactable. Since then I have had 4 major floods in the basement cellar one flood was so bad that I had to call the fire brigade. Also to add to my problem the upstairs neighbors bath was leaking into my living room. All these problems i had to take action and correct myself. lo behold in aug2012 i receive a letter from a so called property management company asking for ground rent , insurance premiums, management charges and admin charges for the letter and billing. I ignored the letters thinking they were a hoax. I again recieved the same letter in aug 2013 asking for all back payment. I have spent over £1600 repairing my property due what i feel is complete negligence from the freeholder and he is demanding money in excess of £2000 for all the time he was missing. In all that time the property has been neglected and I was never ever sent any buildings insurance documents/ certificates giving me piece of mind that I was insured. Also I reiterate no contact details for the freeholder. Please can you advise?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for the question. It is my pleasure to help you with this today. Please bear with me if I ask for more information.

Is the freeholder back now? Are you in contact?

Have you paid the service charges now and do think that they are not a hoax

Are the problems the freeholders fault or responsibility do you think?

Thank you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Hello Mr Denning,


The freeholder sent me a solicitors letter confirming the ID of the so called property management company(which I believe he created)he is demanding full payment.


1) No I have not paid any service charges simply becuse there was no service he has been missing for 5 years.


2) I have never ever received an insurance certificate or cover note stating the building was insured hence having to carry out repairs myself so i would categorically state all the damage could have been avoided if was managing the property, so answer to your question is yes the freeholder is at fault.


3) management charges surely you have to manage something and be in contact with the leaseholder/s to be managing anything.


pleaese let me know if i can add anything further I also have bill for £1600 which paid to repair the cellar if I had been aware I had any type of insurance and contact details I would have called the freeholder etc to get the problem fixed. Ps Please note with the solicitors letter of confirmation of his ID he only sent insurance cover


notes for 2012-2013 this after I asked for them as I was not awre of any insurance on the building. As I stated before no communication from this person whatsoever.


thanks

Expert:  Stuart J replied 8 months ago.
Thank you.
The management company may be referred to in the lease, but if not, any service charge is payable to whoever it says in the lease. It is payable to along with any ground rent.
The level of service charge should either be set in the lease or should be a percentage of what has actually been paid, and you are entitled to see detailed accounts of service and expenditure. You are absolutely correct that if there was no service provided, then there can be no charge, however, you have not paid the service charge and the landlord can argue (although it will not wash in court). That is why he has not done the maintenance, which has caused these problems.
You cannot avoid paying the service charge or any rent otherwise you are in breach of the terms of the lease.
However, you are entitled to be recompensed for any problems as a result of the landlord negligence/failure to repair.
The flooded from the upstairs bath is unlikely to be the landlord’s responsibility, unless the lease specifically says that he is responsible for that pipework which is unlikely. In that case, you need to pursue the owner of the upstairs flat through insurance if necessary.
The flood in the basement may be your problem or it may be the landlord’s problem depending on how it happened and whether whatever caused the flood is your responsibility or the landlords or anyone else’s for that matter. To see whether you are responsible you need to study the lease in details and the repairing obligations, and in particular the definition of the property that you lease.
As you have had a solicitors letter I would write back to the solicitor asking for a detailed breakdown of the services provided and how the cost has been calculated and how it is divided between the various properties in the building.
Meanwhile, you need to make arrangements to pay the outstanding charges pending a dispute.
If the problems have been caused by the landlord’s failures, you need to ask them to reimburse you for the repairs which you have had to make as a result of the landlords breach of covenant to repair.
If he would just not refund you and the lease confirms that whatever went wrong is his responsibility, you are faced with taking him to court.
Does that answer the question? Can I clarify any specific points?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Mr Dennig,


I cannot find a copy of my lease and the solicitor that handled my purchase says he will get back to me but does not (not worth the effort i suppose) I totally agree with you about the ceiling leak.


On the cellar flood I believe that is actual buildings damage, contents the freeholder is not responsible for sure. The actual damage to building itself also rising damp and damage to outer brick work due to water damage. I have already paid £250 as measure of good faith on providing he supplies me with insurance certificates for 2008 to 2011, but he has ignored this.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 8 months ago.
You can get a copy of the deeds for the land registry here for 3 pounds

https://eservices.landregistry.gov.uk/www/wps/portal/!ut/p/b1/04_SjzS0tDQwMTIxMjLXj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOKNjSxMDA1NjDwsjM3MDTxN3dyNDUNMjQ1MjPWDU_P0c6McFQH3SLFU/

and you are able to obtain a copy of the lease for about £20, but they are not all available online.
If the damage to the contents is caused by the flood and the flood is caused by the landlord negligence, I disagree that he is not responsible.
It might be better ever solicitor wrote to the solicitor making threats of court and costs.
It will certainly elicit a more structured response because they cannot continue to press you for money, but ignore the solicitor’s requests.
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 19430
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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