Ground Rent

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in N. Ireland
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Swampie_2Swampie_2 Forumite
24 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in N. Ireland
Hey again, I seem to be full of questions tonight! I'm just not sure who to ask about this, and because I've had a load of questions answered by this site by just searching, I thought I'd ask you guys.
I bought my house Sept 05 and in July 06 I received a bill for outstanding ground rent. I knew we would have ground rent to pay and expected a bill for the year.
The bill was for £175ish and for nine years arrears! I sent them a letter stating when we bought the house and enclosed a cheque for what I owed them for the year £20ish.
I received a letter back with my uncashed cheque saying that I was indeed liable for the arrears as my solicitor should have searched the property for debts. My solicitor did this and we were made aware by him that we would have to pay ground rent. The arrears were not mentioned.
I don't want to jump in and get my solicitor involved as I don't want him charging me for sending letters and I end up parting with my £175 anyway!
Any idea of where I stand? Has this happened to anyone else?:confused:

Sorry for the long post. Thanks!
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Replies

  • IvanOpinionIvanOpinion Forumite
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    I have no idea of the legal position in this but if the arrears were not mine then I would refuse to pay them .. full stop end of story. I thought all those silly laws about debt being held at the premises had been done away with. I would suggest that you immediately make sure that you are paid up to date for the period you have been in the house and tell them that you do not accept responsibility for previous owners.

    Ivan
    Don't waste time on other peoples first world problems
  • ballyblackballyblack Forumite
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    Your only liable for the time you were in the house.

    Anyway only six years is enforceable against the previous owner, not nine.
  • Hi,

    I had same problem. Arrears were only £50 for a year but my solicitor told me that I was liable to pay them as it was on my property and payment of ground rent is a requirement in house lease (that is why it is different to phone bills etc), apparently should have been sorted out at time of sale, asked for receipt from previous owner etc. However after months of pestering, phone calls and letters. I managed to get previous owner to cough up.

    It is ridiculous that you would have to pay that amount because you can buy out your ground rent and never have to pay it again (through ground rent redemption form) by paying for nine years ground rent up front and filling in a land registry form. I did that because knew would be staying in house for at least that period and preferred to get it out of the way.
  • You are NOT liable for these arrears.
    If the solicitor failed to notice the outstanding ground rent then you have grounds to sue that particular firm as they failed in their duty for which you will have paid them. It is very poor service on the part of your solicitor - if you have paid the amount you should consider claiming it back from them.
    sufferinsnickerinrickrastadley
  • My understanding (based on a situation I was in) was that technically, yes, you are liable for any outstanding ground rent on the property... however there should be a standard clause in any house purchase which transfers any such debt to the previous occupants.

    As the amount of arrears that I was looking at was minimal I paid it myself as it was not worth pursuing.

    The main problem I had was that the company collecting my ground rent is in England and when I tried to change the leaseholder details to my own they insisted I send them documents that do not exist under Northern Ireland law! It took 4 months to convince them I owned the house.
  • Hi,

    My situation is different but concerning ground rent as well. I bought my flat 2 years ago and got a bill for the ground rent which is £65 per year. I sent a cheque but they refused to take the payment and returned it because they still had the details of the previous owner.

    I got in touch with my solicitor who in turn wrote to this company to confirm that I had bought this property. But because a notice of transfer was not served on the freeholder and a deed of covenant was not entered, they still refused to take payment.

    My solicitor claimed that the name of the current freeholder was not on the Register Entries but I've noticed its name on the Deed of Covenant that I signed two years ago. I'm not sure what's going on but I feel my solicitor didn't do their job properly. I wrote to the complaint dept and got a reply in May that they have asked this company to provide evidence of the demise of the orignial freeholder to the current freeholder. Today I got a letter that the freeholder has not heard anything from my solicitor since April!!

    Forgot to mention that I have been sent a bill for the Deed of Covenant fees, registration fees, arrears, etc in total £380 on top of the two years ground rent. Surely this can't be right. Why should I have to pay for these fees twice? Anyway, I'm going to sell this flat soon. Still don't know what to do but definitely don't want the new owner pay for the outstanding charges. Well and I've learned my lessons, never again buying a leasehold property in this country. It's just too much hassle.
  • DesGDesG Forumite
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    irishno1 wrote:

    It is ridiculous that you would have to pay that amount because you can buy out your ground rent and never have to pay it again (through ground rent redemption form) by paying for nine years ground rent up front and filling in a land registry form. I did that because knew would be staying in house for at least that period and preferred to get it out of the way.


    I didn't know that you can do that!


    Did you have any problems doing it? Does it mean you now own the freehold outright?

    Cheers, Des.
  • bingo_bangobingo_bango Forumite
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    More advice on doing this from Shelter
  • Thanks a lot guys. I have had a word with my neighbour who says she has never ever received a bill for ground rent - she knows the guy(sorry, company) concerned. I am now wondering if the previous owners ever received an invoice! I just don't know. Although the previous owners did have a lot of debt (who hasn't?) and I think they are dodging it because a year later, I'm still getting callers and demanding letters for them.
    Think I'll try to contact the previous owners and find out a bit more.
    Should I really call the ground rent peoples bluff though and send a letter saying I've taken legal advice? Would the CAB be able to help?
  • DesGDesG Forumite
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    Thanks for the info Swampie!


    Link to the document on the Land Registry Site:-

    http://www.lrni.gov.uk/static/web/library/rent/REDEMPTION_OF_GROUND_RENT1.doc

    Cheers, Des.
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