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    Ground Rent Arrears - Legal Proceedings - HELP
    • #1
    • 29th Jan 14, 9:23 PM
    Ground Rent Arrears - Legal Proceedings - HELP 29th Jan 14 at 9:23 PM
    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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    • ABPitt
    • By ABPitt 6th Nov 15, 3:13 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    I wouldn't worry about JB Leitch

    I had a similar run in with them 3 months ago.


    May be we should all club together and lodge a formal complain and demand an investigation.
    Originally posted by JammiRao
    Hi, we (and some other landlords in the same estate) are just in the very same situation right now; our management company is called Encore, and they work for City and Country who built the estate. They sent the invoice for the service charge to the wrong address (we rent the property) and with JBLeitch charged us an extortionate amount. I followed this thread carefully (thank you all!) and have just contacted Lease Advice. I just wanted to say that yes I would be more than happy if many of us were to put together a request and demand an investigation into the practices of these management companies and of this particular solicitors practice. I want our voice to be heard, they are behaving in a very dodgy way. Consider that Encore has REFUSED to answer our calls and emails. If nothing else I can at least say: stay clear of them. We found the quality of service so far provided by both them and City and Country massively disappointing.
    • richardbox82
    • By richardbox82 19th Nov 15, 7:45 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Ground rent arrears
    How did your dispute with JB Leitch go did it work out successful?

    I'm going through a simular situation now.
    • Bmth
    • By Bmth 11th Feb 16, 9:29 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    E & j
    Findings and Orders 6213/1992/5127 For Stephen Ronald Boon
    Above is the breakdown of the case from the SRA

    Findings No. 6439/1993/5290 dated 21/12/1993

    3. The conviction followed the respondents involvement in a mortgage fraud perpetrated by clients
    The tribunal find the allegation to have been substantiated. It was right that a striking off Order be made.
    Dated 8/2/1994

    Look on the paperwork for the name SR Boon - he has been struckoff as of Jan 1994. Therefore he can not carry out any Qualified and/or Reserved Legal Work. E & J are not actual Solicitors even though the LVT case law has him being addressed as counsel too. Hope this helps. Should the Admins require clarification then please email me.
    3. The c
    • Bmth
    • By Bmth 11th Feb 16, 9:43 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Hampshire based Freeholder/Managing Agent
    They may have been bought out... Check online as the chances are they may well be part of the same nondisclosed cartel that I have been investigating. To date I have 100 case laws. To be frank LEASE are not the best due to their lack of support. May I suggest plain and simple Contract Law as a defence. There are two types of Lease - Commercial and Residential. The latter providing it does have seals will be a Formal Lease, a Building Lease, A Residential Lease Made by Contract Under Seal. Look in to the LEASE website under Tribunal Decisions...
    • eggmanfoo
    • By eggmanfoo 14th Feb 16, 11:30 AM
    • 4 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Hello. I need some help with a very similar issue. I rent out a flat and there is a £50 ground rent to be paid on 31/12 of every year. The lease company is Leasehold Property Management with a PO Box address.
    The invoice is sent to the flat, despite email requests to LPM to send it to my home address.
    Anyway, the tenant was not at the property over xmas when the invoice has arrived, and I was out of the UK on his return. I managed to get the invoice from the tenant on 21st Jan, along with a reminder (stating there was now a late payment charge) on my return.
    I emailed LPM and received an automated reply stating they would reply within 10 days. I explained that it was unreasonable to charge me £42 as I had no access to the invoice as my tenant was away. I did expect a reply and for the matter to be placed on hold while we sorted it out. After not hearing anything, I decided to send a cheque for the original £50 to LPM. I still had no communication from them.
    I was then shocked to find that a letter, containing my cheque had been returned to the WRONG address, with a letter saying they had returned my cheque as the matter had now been sent to SLC Solicitors.
    This was dated 08/02/2016. I have heard nothing from the solicitors and I am now very concerned that I will receive a ridiculous bill.
    I find it very unreasonable that LPM did not reply to my email, and then just handed my file to a debt collecting solicitor.
    Does anyone know where I stand now.
    I feel I have been unfairly treated. Surely a more reasonable approach would have been to issue a final reminder or something.
    Can you help
    • Debs1971
    • By Debs1971 6th Apr 16, 11:24 AM
    • 1 Posts
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    E and J Estates and JB Leitch
    I've just been through a similar experience. E and J Estates had sent letters to my tenants address, even though they had my home address ( which I proved to them ), demanding paperwork and payment of a £ 40 fee to transfer the property I had bought years previously, into my name. My tenants didn't forward the letter to me and before you know it, E & J Estates had instructed JB Leitch in Liverpool to take me to court. Again, I didn't receive the court summons as it was sent to the tenants home. I found out almost by accident, at which point JB Leitch demanded over £ 4,000 for late payment fees and court costs. They were intimdating, using bully boy tactics and threats and I am considering reporting them to the SRA.

    After a week of extreme stress, I proved the correct paperwork and fees had in fact been paid at the time of the house purchase. JB Leitch dropped the case, no word of apology.

    These companies should not be allowed to operate in this way.
    • Rachel Elkin
    • By Rachel Elkin 15th Apr 16, 1:27 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Rachel Elkin
    Going through it too
    JB Leitch are demanding £630 in admin fees/solicitors' costs on an outstanding invoice of £130. This time they are acting for Estate Management Company, CP Bigwood.

    I am the freeholder of a property on a residential estate, which I rent out to a young family. Both ground rent and estate management fees are payable on the property.

    CP Bigwood, sent an invoice for service charges (due in advance) to the property instead of my home address. I therefore did not receive the invoice (if in fact it was sent - my tenants, who are scrupulously careful, said that nothing had been received at the property) and, since I only took ownership at the end of August 2015, I was not clear about the billing cycle etc. In fact I thought I had paid 6 months' advance charges as part of the purchase transfer.

    In February my tenants contacted me to say that a debt collecting agency (JB Leitch) had been to the property to chase up an outstanding payment. I asked him the details and said I would take it from there.

    I immediately contacted JB Leitch. They said that I owed £630 in interest and admin fees on an outstanding payment – that I had not, until this point, known was due.

    I paid the service charge of £130 immediately – along with an additional £300 (this was in error, as I thought it was part of the outstanding service charge). They are still demanding a further £300. They gave me 7 days to pay it, but we are long past this.

    I am disputing that I am legally bound to pay the additional fees. I asked them for a Summary of My Rights and Obligations. They sent me a Summary of Tenants’ Rights and Obligations. I pointed out that I am not a tenant and there is no lease.

    The only existing agreement is the Title Transfer from the Land Registry. The clause relating to ground rent and service charges is quoted below. It specifically refers to the Holding Company, Solitaire - but they contract out the estate management to Bigwood. This clause states that interest is charged on outstanding invoices at a rate of 4% (not 4.5% as the solicitors are requesting) and there is no mention of Admin Fees in the terms of this transfer (signed Aug 2015, just one month before the service charge became due.

    Please see relevant clause below:

    Title Transfer from the Land Registry.
    Section 11.3 of this Transfer deed states:
    "If any sums due to be paid by the Transferee under the terms of this Transfer or any part thereof shall be unpaid after becoming payable the Transferee shall pay to the Company (Holding & Management (Solitaire) No. 3 Limited)interest upon such sum or sums as shall remain unpaid at the rate of four per cent (4%) per annum above the base rate (or its equivalent)"

    Can the company really charge such an excessive admin fee when this was not stated in the Transfer agreement that I had signed just a month earlier? I have contacted LEASE, but they were unable to help because I am not a tenant.
    • Freecall
    • By Freecall 15th Apr 16, 3:27 PM
    • 1,067 Posts
    • 971 Thanks

    Can the company really charge such an excessive admin fee when this was not stated in the Transfer agreement that I had signed just a month earlier? I have contacted LEASE, but they were unable to help because I am not a tenant.
    Originally posted by Rachel Elkin

    The answer to your question is 'yes' I am afraid. As a freeholder you are in an entirely different position with none of the legal safeguards that leaseholders have.

    The only upside is that ultimately they will have to chase you through the courts for payment (although they will also be able to recover their costs from you). I say upside because they will not be able to use a Section 146 notice against you because you are a freeholder.

    The only practical answer is to pay up and make sure that you never miss a payment in the future.

    Sorry I can't give you better news.
    • Rachel Elkin
    • By Rachel Elkin 16th Apr 16, 10:12 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Rachel Elkin
    Going through it too
    Thanks so much for your reply. It wasn't what I want to hear of course, but I really appreciate your advice.
    • hammy022
    • By hammy022 28th Apr 16, 6:01 PM
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    • 1 Thanks
    Hi Rachel,

    I do not agree with Free Call in his simple version.

    I assume you purchased the property and the solicitor was aware of your home address and this would have been provided to the management company Bigwood (formerly Curry & Partners). I have known Curry & Partners then Bigwood for for nearly 30 years and I know there has been many times they have sent out the annual service charge much later than the due date and even when told repeatedly of my actual correspondence address is not the same as the property address have failed to post the invoice to the correct address.

    The clause you copied basically says you are charged interest from day one on the due date.

    You are a freeholder and not a leaseholder but you are subject to the terms of the lease unless you have documents stating otherwise but so is the Landlord / their representative Bigwood.

    I think in my opinion you made a mistake paying the extra money to the solicitors without first seeking legal advice, it would have been cheaper and even free at the local CAB office. JB Leitch provide a free service to Bigwood in such matters. Bigwood really do not have anything to lose.

    You should read the lease carefully. You will most likely find a description of how the service charge must be worked out and the requirements of the Landlord / Management to provide certified accounts for the estate on which your property is located. Usually there is wording describing the management fee and how much that can be.

    You should ignore any demand from Bigwoods's solicitor demanding you do not contact Bigwood, that is their M.O.

    Read the lease and then request the last three years account statements for your estate and compare with the lease. You will see what I mean when you read the lease.

    In my opinion if they have not kept to the terms of the lease the service charge is invalid and so is all costs you are being charged. That is my opinion. The local CAB office will help you with that. Sometimes it might take a couple of weeks to get to see the actual specialist you need to see, they will actually find you an expert in this field.

    In the meanwhile write to the solicitor informing them you are seeking legal advice and will contact them as soon as you have sought that advice. Also the Solicitors Regulation Authority advices solicitors to give you 14 days to respond. Given only 7 days or less causes a person to panic and to pay when they don't think they should, as you did.

    If the solicitor threatens you with County Court do not let that stress you out. If they do file a claim you will receive a letter in the post. You can reply on the form that you need 30 days to seek legal advice and the solicitor has no say on that and can't add solicitor charges simply for the 30 day delay. This will give you plenty of time to get the correct legal advice you need.

    Your case to me smells of incompetence by Bigwood and the solicitors "Conveyor Belt" style or presenting their clients without it appears even seeking any form of evidence. The management company give it over to the solicitor and they start their threats hoping you will give in. IMO it's illegal.

    If Bigwood were given your home address they are at fault and you have nothing to worry about. Phone your solicitor and ask them what contact information they gave to Bigwood when you purhased the property, ask for a copy of it. A solicitor will have sent it to the management company no later than 30 days from the day the purchase was completed.

    Bigwood may also have to prove they even sent you the invoice. They use a business mail account for postage, with my account the postcode and house number are recorded on the billing.

    And keep your pecker up :-)
    • AnnieO1234
    • By AnnieO1234 28th Apr 16, 6:11 PM
    • 1,679 Posts
    • 2,518 Thanks
    Back around ten years ago when I was responsible for writing leases, we included at the time a clause to the effect that it was the obligation of the lessee to ensure ground rent was paid on time to the service address irrespective of whether an invoice or reminder was sent.

    • Rachel Elkin
    • By Rachel Elkin 23rd May 16, 10:30 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Rachel Elkin
    Thanks Hammy
    Apologies for not catching your reply sooner. I have been away -and wifi-less for a few weeks. Really good to hear from someone who sees the story from the lessee's point of view. The whole arrangement seems unbelievably one-sided. Surely, when a lessee enters an agreement with a large company like Bigwood they should receive an introductory letter with details of service agreements, payment schedule, contact details etc? Finding your way around their systems as a new lessee is a nightmare because they are such a large organisation.

    What I find particularly objectionable about Leitch is their approach. They are just rude from the outset. When I first rang them I was totally willing to cooperate, but they speak to you as though you are a seasoned criminal with a folder of dodging tactics. Their methods are bullying and extremely stressful to those who have made an innocent mistake - and ought to be regulated in this day and age.

    I tried the CAB, but they told me they didn't have any expertise in this field and were unable to help.
    • caselk
    • By caselk 31st May 16, 6:40 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Hello I am having the same issue with homeground. I had not received any notification for payment of ground rent as as such was not aware it was due. They send in letters to which i did not received. I have now received a letter from their solicitors demanind payment of approx £500 ...... I have sent an email to homeground stating this and yet to hear from them. They really are unhelpful. How can they get away with treating people the way they do ...they just want to take money
    • A mac
    • By A mac 1st Jun 16, 3:12 PM
    • 1 Posts
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    A mac
    Hi this is my 1st post on MSE, I hope I'm doing it right. I'm having major issues with Homeground. I own a leasehold flat that's ground rent used to managed by Remus. For some reason this got taken over by Homeground and the problems started. Essentially they are saying that I need to pay £250 arrears (GR) from the previous owners time there. No amount of me sending cleared Remus bills for the time in dispute. The clear completion statement from my solicitors or anything else (including a balance of £0 from themselves in Sept '15) seems to show them that this money isn't owed. ( this dates back to 2013) I find them useless. I thought after wrangling with them over this last year that it was all over when I got my clear September statement but they just seem to send what ever bill they like when they like, even though the paper trail ends up making no sense. They are now telling me to just pay this years GR and ignore the fact the account is in arrears but I don't want to pay what I don't owe or end up with big charges and it's going to cause problems if I sell. I want to report them, please can someone tell me who would be best? Also any opinions on this matter would be gratefully received thank you
    • Jenny Penny SA
    • By Jenny Penny SA 7th Jun 16, 2:02 PM
    • 1 Posts
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    Jenny Penny SA
    Please can you help me as I am also having a nightmare with this company. Having paid my ground rent on time every year for 7 years, I got married and rented out my flat last year and sent a letter to update them of my new details. Then I get a call on 1st June from SLC solicitors Trevor Russell saying that I owe a huge amount for ground rent. Apparently they have sent letters to my flat (my tenant has been away for a few weeks) from 1st April and the matter has since been escalated to their solicitors as a result of me failing to pay. Both companies have been very rude and as stated in previous posts - they blind you with legal jargon and talk over you. They claim to never have received the letter stating that my details had changed - and tell me to prove that it was sent (which of course I can't - stupid of me I know - I should have sent it recorded post). They refused to take payment for the ground rent (which I have now paid by bank transfer). Having collected the letters from my tenant, only the letter from the solicitors has actually arrived (unless the tenant is being dishonest with me but I don't see why he would do this). When I asked E and J why they did not call me the guy said that they are not allowed to call to chase payments - but escalating to a solicitor (who called me - clearly using the mobile phone number provided to him by - you guessed it - E and J Estates). What can I do? I didn't actually received four letters as they claim - there is only that the tenant has received. Really upset by it all as they don't seem to care that I have paid on time for all of these years. When I said that to the guy at E and J his response was "what's your point?" Is it true that they can not call me to remind me to pay?? Surely using "reasonable means" includes a phone call?? Please advise.
    • tommyrc
    • By tommyrc 19th Sep 16, 10:17 AM
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    Did you get a resolution to this? I have just had this same issue with the address being wrong ....

    JB and Freeholders that is...
    • BarneyGumball
    • By BarneyGumball 16th Oct 16, 11:16 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    More Ground Rent Arrears
    Hello All,
    I'm also having ground rent issues with JB Leitch and a landlord, but not Homeground - in this case Elmdon Real Estate, based in London.

    When I originally bought my flat (buy to let), it was from a company that was in receivership, so the purchase was done via an administration company. In short, at that time there was no landlord and therefore no-one to receive the ground rent.
    That was back in Jan 2014. Since then I have heard nothing and had no contact with any landlord of any kind. I spoke to the Block Management company a while back and they told me they didn't have a clue who the landlord was either.
    Anyway, on Thursday (Oct 13 2016) I received a letter from JB Leitch saying that 'Despite formal requests, you have failed to voluntarily pay ground rent and fees due.'
    The total is £200 ground rent, plus fees of £216.
    Like the rest of you, this was the first I had heard of the new landlord. I can only assume letters were sent to the property I let and not where I live. I told JB Leitch this and they told me to speak to my Solicitor as I had to provide proof that my address was provided during the purchase.
    I went to the Solicitor and told the receptionist about it and she sent an e-mail to the Solicitor (he was on holiday). She also took a photocopy of the letter from JB Leitch. I'm hoping they can provide the proof needed.

    I spoke to JB Leitch again after this and they agreed to put the case on hold for 7 days. I asked them to provide details of the Landlord so I could pay the outstanding ground rent, but they refused saying that while there was a dispute, this wasn't possible.

    It doesn't look like the Landlord is as unreasonable as some of the others in this thread as the outstanding payments date back to 01/01/2015, but surely it must have occurred to them that maybe I wasn't living at the address they were sending correspondence to.
    I have no problem paying ground rent. It says clearly in the Lease £100 per year. Not being psychic, however, makes it difficult to know exactly who to pay and when.

    One thing that is really bothering me - What if my Solicitor didn't give my home address at the time of purchase? Where does that leave me? Would they pick up the £216 fees?
    • BarneyGumball
    • By BarneyGumball 22nd Oct 16, 9:13 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Just wanted to provide an update. I've spoken to my solicitor who has proof my address was provided at the time of purchase. It's on the lease and throughout all the purchase documentation.
    He described this whole thing as 'outrageous' and a 'sharp practice' and is baffled why the landlord has failed to contact me. Apart from my address being clearly visible, he has asked why the landlord also didn't get in touch with him as he had my contact details, same goes for the block management company.
    He's asked JB Leitch to provide a copy of the letter the landlord originally sent to me. That was on Thursday morning (20 Oct 2016). We are yet to receive this.

    I am concerned what will happen regarding the legal fees. I have done nothing wrong here, so don't think I should be paying anything other than the outstanding ground rent, but only when the landlord has sent a demand to the correct address.
    What Jb Leitch and the landlord are trying to do here seems like a mugging.
    • alvinc
    • By alvinc 23rd Oct 16, 2:42 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Watch out for these scams
    These scams really make my blood boil. We're often told to look out for scams but these legal ones are probably the most profitable. I wouldn't be surprised if these ground rent fines netted hundreds of thousands of pounds or more annually.

    Our legal system protects these sharks who know how to abide by the letter of the law in order to fleece us consumers. Fines should be fair and proportionate. I have now had these late payment charges twice in three years. A £50 fine on a £250 payment (25%) is completely excessive. Our court system needs consider this, a £10 fine on a £250 payment seems reasonable. There should also be at least a 1 month window to settle up, this is standard procedure in the business world and people are usually paid monthly so if they are struggling one month they should be given 30 days notice before fines are introduced.

    If you have the energy to fight these charges legally then go ahead, but there needs to be some basic protections because the majority of people don't have the time or will to go through lengthy legal proceedings to fight these charges. Even if you do, these companies follow the letter of the law and are allowed to get away with these ridiculous charges because they are backed up by the courts. I would love to hear how they justify these charges of 25% plus over a couple of weeks of non-payment.
    • BarneyGumball
    • By BarneyGumball 25th Oct 16, 2:19 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Further to my ramblings above..

    The Landlord has an obligation to send a demand for ground rent to the property or properties of which he is the freeholder.
    The landlord doesn't have to send the demand to the property owners actual abode, unless you have informed them in writing to send correspondence elsewhere. However, the landlord has no obligation to respond or even acknowledge this request and can continue to send correspondence to the property or properties of which he is the freeholder rather than the property owners actual abode.

    So, in my case, if my landlord continues to send correspondence to the flat I own rather than where I actually live, I have no way of getting this correspondence as I can't go and root through my tenants postbox. I have to rely on my tenant passing this mail on to the managing agent, which they don't have to do.
    I have no protection should my landlord charge me for anything else, send me a bill for anything else or demand payment for something else in the future.

    In my case, I had no idea there was a landlord as when I bought, the company from which I bought the property was in administration.
    At some point, the administrators sold the freehold. I assume they are under no obligation to tell any of the property owners about this at their actual living address.

    This isn't fair, even though it isn't illegal. I would have thought in cases like this, where a new freeholder takes over, some effort must be made to contact the property owners at their actual address.

    I've done nothing wrong but now have to pay the outstanding ground rent (which is fine), whatever JB Leitch are going to charge - god knows how much that'll be - and any additional charges applied.
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