Services charges

Please help!
I purchased a leasehold flat in Aug 2022. I was told by my solicitor that I had to pay an apportionment for the Service Charges of £54 (as the seller had paid for the year) and was told this would be paid up until March 2023 (However the breakdown was stated as Jan- Dec?). This is my first time buying a leasehold property so I assumed the solicitors knew what they were doing without querying it further.
In April 2023 I received my service charge bill for £185. I immediately queried this to be told that the bill was for Apr 22- Mar 2023 and the bills were sent in arrears. I advised them I had only been in the property since August but they replied that apportionment should have been arranged, the debt is for the property so I am liable and basically they will keep chasing me. I told them I wouldn't be paying and they gave me an extension so that I could discuss and try to fix with my solicitor. 
My solicitor was not helpful and eventually stopped all contact (I then found she had left on maternity). Months later someone from the solicitors has got back to after speaking to the sellers solicitor saying that "they would agree to refund your clients the service charge apportionment of £54 which was paid by your clients upon completion of sale and this will be in full and final settlement of this issue".
And now.. I am stuck! What can I do to resolve this other than give in and pay the full years bill.
I realise this will probably not work out to a huge amount (£60 or so) but with all the other issues I have had with the property and the current cost of living crisis, I am really adamant that I do not want to pay this horrible mans bill. 
Is this my fault for not having a clue or should I hold my solicitor responsible...??

Comments

  • Nearlyold
    Nearlyold Posts: 2,286 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post
    Does the bill you received in April 23 make it clear that it is for Apr 2022 to March 2023?
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 10,264 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited 6 September 2023 at 4:12PM
    What period does the April 2023 service charge bill say it covers? 

    Leasehold properties we've owned you pay an estimated bill in advance and there is a true up at the next cycle and so if yours is the same you'd expect to be paying the 2023/2024 bill in April. You reimbursed £54 to the seller for the period they had already paid for which was Apr 2022 to Apr 2023 for the future part of that. You get the full benefit or detriment of if the estimate for 2022/2023 was wrong. 

    Our service charge is about £3,200 a year and we moved in about mid year so had to pay the sellers £1,600 for the half year they'd paid for but we'd be benefiting from. Just after we completed we were lucky and got told the water company had made a big error over the years and each flat was getting a £2k refund or so. Clearly I had contributed nothing to it but got it all. 

    The total bill for our building is over £100,000, the management agent isnt going to lend leaseholders that sort of money and hence why the norm is to pay in advance. 
  • Yes I concur your figures. If you get a refund of the £54 from the sellers and you pay the £185 for the year, you are paying approx £60 more than you should. If I were you, I'd just pay it as I think the amount of time & effort required to recover £60 will take up a lot of spare time.
  • Nearlyold said:
    Does the bill you received in April 23 make it clear that it is for Apr 2022 to March 2023?
    I've spoke to them and they have told me it is in arrears.
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