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I am just about to complete on a city centre apartment, but have had a nasty surprise. The service charges are way in excess of similar units in the vicinity. I own other nearby units and the SC/GR is consistently £1200/pa for service and £200/pa for ground rent.
At the point of making my offer, I was informed by the EA that my unit had a SC of £600/pa and GR of £200. However, the contract has just come through and the SC is £1300/pa, excluding insurance which is an additional £450/pa. The building is very standard (no fancy cladding or flat roof).
I am trying to speak with the building managers, but they are hard to get hold of.
Does anyone have any experience of successfully challenging service charges and or insurance charges?
The best way would be to arrange a Right to Manage company, in which the leaseholders all come together to set up a company and take over management of a block.Its not always possible, T&C Apply. You are then in charge, can self manage (maybe not wise) or agree to appoint a manager.The difference is that you the group is in charge of the management and provide them instructions, not the other way around.
Though a better way would be Enfranchisement, where you both get rid of the £200 ground rent (and self manage) but that can be costly.
Those two options aside, a leaseholder has the right to assess the proposed budget. They are also able to view the accounts and receipts, to ensure they are not overcharged for past year(s).That is as much control as you have, as much as I can see. Make sure they are not making up receipts.
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I was vaguely aware of the ability to set up the management of the units. Not sure how I would get in contact with all of the other Leaseholders? Regarding Enfranchisement - never heard of it. I will do some research and see where that get me!
The Government has set up an advisory service, you can schedule a free call and may be worth doing so prior to buying. https://www.lease-advice.org/
The Land Registry is a good place to start to get contact details of current leaseholders. It typically registers the name and address of the owner, its not always up to date. You don't need all of the leaseholders but a majority. I'm not trying to say its easy, its a bit of a bugger.
Right to Manage - https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/right-manage/Enfranchisement - https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/ce-getting-started/
Brilliant- I’m jumping straight on it. many thanks
You now know the EA – sorry, salesman - lied to you: Wonder what else they lied about....
Ha! to be fair, he did make a point of saying he was reluctant to advise of the SC because he was relying on the Vendor's information. I worked on the premise that, worse case scenario, it'd be equal to the other units around it. More fool me...
I am a managing agent of many city centre blocks, advising a few right to manage companies.
DM me; I'd be delighted to offer you some informal advice.
In theory property management is straight forward and if you approach it from a transparent perspective whilst being regulated by the RICS, the answers you seek are straight forward.
In a perfect world...........
Thanks Kevin, will do