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  • FIRST POST
    • Taiko
    • By Taiko 17th Oct 16, 8:36 PM
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    Taiko
    Freeholder not providing access to service charge receipts
    • #1
    • 17th Oct 16, 8:36 PM
    Freeholder not providing access to service charge receipts 17th Oct 16 at 8:36 PM
    Hi all,

    I have a leasehold flat, 100% ownership, where the freeholder is a local, rather large, housing association. I received at the beginning of September a summary of service charges for the year ending 2015/16, and was concerned by some of the figures within the account. Some of the costs seemed excessive, and there were also several things I noticed we had been charged for that there wasn't a provision for within the lease (removal of items from communal garden, then placed in a storage company).

    With this in mine, I sent off an email through their online web portal, asking for further information and copies of the receipts for the work undertaken, as well as the breakdowns for labour charges, as they were using their own property services team. It has now been over a month since my initial email to them, and I've still not had any chance to inspect the documents, as they haven't arranged access. I requested either the chance to inspect in person and take copies, or the files emailed to me as a PDF attachment. I've made several phone calls chasing up a response, but had nothing at all.

    I understand that I need to continue paying the service charge to an extent, but is there any other action that can be taken to try and get the issues resolved? They seem to be a law onto their self, and have previously been challenged by the block for trying to carry out works without proper consultation.
    For student loan advice, please do not PM me. I reserve my PM's for cases I'm assisting on directly which are complex, and therefore need to have room to go through the query and refer back. PM's that I haven't agreed to receive on this will be ignored, and I will not assist in your query.
Page 1
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 17th Oct 16, 9:15 PM
    • 10,885 Posts
    • 30,637 Thanks
    moneyistooshorttomention
    • #2
    • 17th Oct 16, 9:15 PM
    • #2
    • 17th Oct 16, 9:15 PM
    First thought - wondering whether the Freedom of Information Act just applies to government at one level or another?

    I'd check whether any other bodies (eg HA's) are covered by it as well.

    Also - companies have to produce accounts - which I believe the public are due to have access to??

    So - I'm guessing there is some legal right somewhere of some description that you can use to get a look at those accounts.
    The unexamined life is not worth living.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 17th Oct 16, 9:24 PM
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    G_M
    • #3
    • 17th Oct 16, 9:24 PM
    • #3
    • 17th Oct 16, 9:24 PM
    http://www.lease-advice.org/

    http://www.lease-advice.org/faq/how-can-i-find-out-what-my-service-charge-is-being-used-for/
    Under Sections 21 and 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA 1985) you have the right to request a summary of the service charge account and to inspect receipts, accounts etc in relation to the last accounting year, or where accounts are not kept by accounting years, the past 12 months preceding the request.
    You need to write to your landlord or managing agent and request a summary under Section 21 LTA 1985. The summary should be provided within one month of your request (or within six months of the end of the accounting period whichever is the later) and should be certified by a qualified accountant if there are more than four dwellings.
    Once you have received the summary, you have the right under Section 22 of the LTA 1985 to inspect documents as a follow-up to provide more detail on the summary. Within six months of receipt of the summary you may write to the landlord or managing agent requiring them to allow you access to inspect the accounts, receipts and any other documents relevant to the service charge information in the summary and to provide facilities for them to be copied. Facilities for inspecting the documents should be provided within one month of your request and should be available for two months.
    You may have additional rights to information under the terms of your lease and other legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act.
    • Taiko
    • By Taiko 17th Oct 16, 11:53 PM
    • 2,472 Posts
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    Taiko
    • #4
    • 17th Oct 16, 11:53 PM
    • #4
    • 17th Oct 16, 11:53 PM
    Thanks G_M, shall refer to the act for guidance on the next step as, by my interpretation, I received the summary within 6 months of the end of the accounting period, but they should have provided the facilities to inspect by now, as my written request was over a month ago.

    Appreciate the signposting, just couldn't find the exact act that it came under.
    For student loan advice, please do not PM me. I reserve my PM's for cases I'm assisting on directly which are complex, and therefore need to have room to go through the query and refer back. PM's that I haven't agreed to receive on this will be ignored, and I will not assist in your query.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 17th Oct 16, 11:58 PM
    • 37,051 Posts
    • 40,979 Thanks
    G_M
    • #5
    • 17th Oct 16, 11:58 PM
    • #5
    • 17th Oct 16, 11:58 PM
    The http://www.lease-advice.org/ website has a wealth of information for leaseholders on all related topics.

    ps - I'm not a student but would like an interest-free student loan. Can you help me get one?
    • Taiko
    • By Taiko 18th Oct 16, 2:01 AM
    • 2,472 Posts
    • 2,343 Thanks
    Taiko
    • #6
    • 18th Oct 16, 2:01 AM
    • #6
    • 18th Oct 16, 2:01 AM
    Should probably update that. Although I still help out occasionally on the student board, it's been about 6 years since I last assessed anyone!Things change!
    For student loan advice, please do not PM me. I reserve my PM's for cases I'm assisting on directly which are complex, and therefore need to have room to go through the query and refer back. PM's that I haven't agreed to receive on this will be ignored, and I will not assist in your query.
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 18th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    • 10,885 Posts
    • 30,637 Thanks
    moneyistooshorttomention
    • #7
    • 18th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    • #7
    • 18th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    Oh darn it - re those interest-free loans. I might have been next in line after G_M for one of those - new kitchen, garden landscaping and adding a conservatory still to do....

    Shucks....
    The unexamined life is not worth living.
    • starving artist
    • By starving artist 18th Oct 16, 9:03 AM
    • 594 Posts
    • 5,478 Thanks
    starving artist
    • #8
    • 18th Oct 16, 9:03 AM
    • #8
    • 18th Oct 16, 9:03 AM
    You should have been consulted on any works costing more than a certain amount (£250 I think).
    • Taiko
    • By Taiko 18th Oct 16, 7:01 PM
    • 2,472 Posts
    • 2,343 Thanks
    Taiko
    • #9
    • 18th Oct 16, 7:01 PM
    • #9
    • 18th Oct 16, 7:01 PM
    Oddly, we were ask for responses as a Section 20 consultation for lift maintenance.

    We don't have a lift in the block.
    For student loan advice, please do not PM me. I reserve my PM's for cases I'm assisting on directly which are complex, and therefore need to have room to go through the query and refer back. PM's that I haven't agreed to receive on this will be ignored, and I will not assist in your query.
    • TheGardener
    • By TheGardener 18th Oct 16, 8:20 PM
    • 1,613 Posts
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    TheGardener
    Just a thought but - is the online portal message form the only method you have used to communicate with them? I only ask as:
    a) we have one of these at work and it was so bad a 'losing' messages.
    b) No one ever remembered to check the web message in-box.
    We ended up removing it and just putting an email address on the message page.

    EDIT: sorry I see you have phoned - I would send another clear email to a specific member of staff and request a receipt.
    • Taiko
    • By Taiko 25th Oct 16, 12:20 PM
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    • 2,343 Thanks
    Taiko
    Had a response at last earlier today. The exact quote was:

    Unfortunately we don’t hold invoices/receipts for standard SOR charges
    They tend to use their in house property team to undertake works, and I'm assuming SOR is Schedule Of Rates. They've not provided me with a copy of this schedule, but is that likely to be enough to meet the criteria? In my opinion, they have failed to meet the requirements of the LTA1985 at present, but would appreciate any guidance. Leaseadvice, while not being explicit, seems to point in that direction as well.
    For student loan advice, please do not PM me. I reserve my PM's for cases I'm assisting on directly which are complex, and therefore need to have room to go through the query and refer back. PM's that I haven't agreed to receive on this will be ignored, and I will not assist in your query.
    • Taiko
    • By Taiko 27th Oct 16, 6:55 PM
    • 2,472 Posts
    • 2,343 Thanks
    Taiko
    Ok, had a further email back today, and they refuse to provide a copy of the Schedule of Rates, as it is "Industry standard". So I have no receipts for the work, no material costs etc, just a printout that is vague of what they claim to have done and the price charged. In some cases, the charge tells me nothing about the work undertaken.

    Any recommendation for next steps? I'm looking to challenge reasonableness at some point, but it's tricky to do if I can't access any documents!
    For student loan advice, please do not PM me. I reserve my PM's for cases I'm assisting on directly which are complex, and therefore need to have room to go through the query and refer back. PM's that I haven't agreed to receive on this will be ignored, and I will not assist in your query.
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