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Ground Rent Arrears - Legal Proceedings - HELP

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
49 replies 31.6K views
l2oony_kl2oony_k Forumite
2 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
Hello all, I am just after a bit of advice regarding Ground Rent...

On 9th November 2013 I received two letters from the ground rent company demanding £250, which I had no problem paying. The only problem was that one letter was dated the 1st November 2013, the second dated the 8th November 2013. Therefore due to a delay in the postal system, I had already missed the 7days to pay this ground rent, and now incurred a £45 admin fee. This rent would cover January 2013 to 2014.

I emailed the ground rent company explaining the circumstances (HomeGround do not have a phone number and only respond via email) and hours later received a reply that a reminder letter had been sent out during June 2013, which I hadn't received. I explained that I was happy to pay the £250 which I owed, but not the £45 admin fee as I had received the letter late and it was an unfair charge. On 11th November 2013, I Immediately paid £250 into their account and heard nothing more. HomeGround didn't send a receipt for the payment either. I then sent another email informing HomeGround that I had made the payment, and I also asked for the log in details for my account in order to access my account via their online website, but didn't hear anything back, so I assumed the matter had been resolved.

Then 21st January 2014 I received a letter from HomeGround informing me that there was an outstanding balance of £395 on my account, as the a result they would not be in communication with me anymore but their their solicitors would now start legal proceedings. A further £100 late payment had been added to my account.

I then received a letter and email from JB LEITCH solicitors claiming £662, which included the £395 plus their £267 solicitors fees. I immediately contacted JB LEITCH and was informed that due to not paying the rent on the 1st of January 2014 to 2015, HomeGround had instructed JB LEITCH to recover the 'debt.' I explained that I hadn't received any paperwork from HomeGround requesting the rent for the 2014-2015 period. Apparently a letter was sent on the 25th November 2013. I explained that if HomeGround knew that I had problems receiving post, why was an email not sent with their rent demand considering HomeGround now had form of contact which was email rather than a letter? LB LEITCH stated that under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, unless I requested for the letters to be sent via email and not via post, then HomeGround had no obligation to do so. Also under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, HomeGround do not have to send letters via Recorded Delivery and as long as the letters are sent via First Class, then this is enough proof that the letter had been sent. I also explained that I live in an apartment along with several other residents. On several occasions Royal Mail as well as the other delivery companies have had problems with delivering mail due to the communal doors not being accessible. But LB LEITCH state that this isn't a line of defence and I must pay the £662 ASAP otherwise legal proceedings including a bailiff would proceed.

So, where do I stand? Please could someone assist with this matter. I am happy to pay the £250 which is owed for the 2014-2015 period. Should I pay this as I am now aware of the outstanding fee, but not the admin charges and solicitors fees? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks, Haroon
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Replies

  • I'm no expert in this field but I think they're are right in saying the post issue is not a defence. If there is an issue with post in your block you should be aiming to get that sorted as a priority.

    As it stands I don't really see any defence from your side. They sent a letter, you got it later due to 'issue with post' therefore missed the payment deadline. They applied late payment fees as you did not pay on time. You paid the original charge but not the late payment fee. You chose to not follow it up when you questioned it.

    Then 2014-2015 charge which you must know is due or overdue come 1st jan you failed to pay. If you have an online account, can you not check this online? Again 'previous issue with post' not resolved by you (your responsibility). As you paid late previously and did not pay the late charges they have now referred it to their solicitors which indeed is not free.

    Although it's weird how you received the solicitors letter as dated but claim to not have received any original bills.....????


    Sorry I'm no legal beagle but reading this how you've put it, I can't see where you stand other than to pay up, and set up some sort of direct debit to ensure this doesn't happen again.
    An opinion is just that..... An opinion
  • thequantthequant Forumite
    1.2K posts
    this sounds deliberate by the freeholders in order to apply these admin fees.


    to give 7 days from the date of the letter is unreasonable notice.


    The CPR for court proceedings states you must allow 3 days when servicing any documents, thus in the eyes of the law you were only given 4 days notice. The "recommended" time is to allow 14 days.


    Not sure if this has to go to the LVT or through the county court system for them enforce this, but I suspect both would say you were given an unreasonable amount of time to settle the bill.
  • bathwigglebathwiggle Forumite
    69 posts
    Sixth Anniversary 10 Posts Combo Breaker Name Dropper
    Have you checked with them what address they are posting letters to you at?
  • soozsooz Forumite
    4.6K posts
    Ignore the post above.

    The law has changed


    See http://www.lease-advice.org/information/faqs/faq.asp?item=176

    You can call LEASE who will talk you through what to do.
  • princeofpoundsprinceofpounds Forumite
    8.2K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭
    Yes I second the recommendation of LEASE - they can explain to you what the legal position is.

    Obviously you do owe ground rent as specified in your lease, but I suspect many of the late payment charges etc. are simply not applicable.
  • ChumpusRex wrote: »
    Payment terms on ground rents are very strict, because the lease gives you written notice of when and how much to pay.

    No, this was overridden by law,CLRA 2002 section 166
    Stop! Think. Read the small print. Trust nothing and assume that it is your responsibility. That way it rarely goes wrong.
    Actively hunting down the person who invented the imaginary tenure, "share freehold"; if you can show me one I will produce my daughter's unicorn
  • Read my sticky here on this
    http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?55587-Late-payment-charges-SC-and-GR

    The lease must make provision for legal costs and in most cases it is restricted to section 146 law of property Act 1925 which refers to forfeiture, and excludes ground rent arrears.

    As a result read you lease and make immediate application to the FTT so as to avoid it being escalated by the freeholder.
    http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=3080
    Stop! Think. Read the small print. Trust nothing and assume that it is your responsibility. That way it rarely goes wrong.
    Actively hunting down the person who invented the imaginary tenure, "share freehold"; if you can show me one I will produce my daughter's unicorn
  • edited 14 April 2014 at 9:12PM
    mailmannzmailmannz Forumite
    295 posts
    Debt-free and Proud!
    ✭✭
    edited 14 April 2014 at 9:12PM
    Ive got issues with these clowns as well.

    So, firstly you need to check your lease document to see when your due date is as its most likely a different date that Homeground is using.

    Secondly, ask JB Leitch which section of your lease their client is basing their demands for fees on.

    Thirdly, check to see if the ground rent demand conforms to the demand in sooz's and property mans link.

    Write to JB Leitch and demand copies of the ground rent demands from home ground, along with the supporting summary of rights they should have attached to it.

    Finally...watch them squirm.

    The real issue with companies like Homeground is that they buy up leaseholds and then mercilessly pile misery on anyone who is a second late with making their payment dates. Their whole business model is based on charging excessive fees and getting people to pay up without a fuss.

    Sadly companies like Homeground are part of the rip off culture of this country (like wheel clampers, management service agents, cowboy builders and mechanics rah rah rah etc) and the reality is that unless the Government regulates landlords like Homeground then they will continue to print money on trees through extorting excessive charges from harassed and bullied leaseholders.

    Regards

    Mailman
  • :mad:I have just gone through a terrible experience with this firm and their client E & J Estates. Responsibility for ground rent was switched from the original management company BRAM to E & J Estates. Unbeknownst to me E & J did not get my correct contact details from BRAM. That meant that the bill for ground rent - all of £75.00 - was sent to the wrong address. Instead of checking back with BRAM who still handle service charges for the building and have my postal address, email address and phone number, E & J instructed JB Leitch to contact me. Funnily enough they found my address immediately and sent me a bill for £407.09.

    JB Leitch have made my life a misery for the last 6 weeks leading to sleepless nights and much anxiety. All the onus was on me to PROVE that I had given the right address to the original management company - i.e. I was guilty until proven innocent. JB Leitch made me feel like a criminal and all over an unpaid bill of £75.00 which I had never received.

    Finally I found a letter from BRAM to the right address which preceded the ground rent bill from E & J. They have now withdrawn their "case" but I have received no apology.

    Why the need for confrontation and aggression when a simple phone call to BRAM from E & J back in February could have resolved the matter?

    I am appalled by this ridiculous series of events and the waste of my time and energy.
  • katejokatejo Forumite
    3.3K posts
    Eighth Anniversary 1,000 Posts
    ✭✭✭✭
    I really don't understand the attitudes of some freeholders. I made repeated attempts to pay my ground rent year on year. Sometimes they just filed my cheques in a filing cabinet. I gave up and put the money in a savings account and paid the outstanding amount when I sold the flat.
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