Recovering arrears from a ‘challenging’ leaseholder

Brady Solicitors’ Emma Voce has secured success for a residents’ management company in an ongoing dispute with buy-to-let leasehold property owner.

Emma Voce property management solicitor at Brady Solicitors in Nottingham
Emma Voce, Brady Solicitors

In smaller developments, leaseholder harmony somehow feels that bit more critical. And whilst the pandemic and homeworking might have tested neighbourly patience a little, there are few things more challenging to a small block than one rogue owner causing problems.

In this success story, which focused on a listed Victorian building containing 15 individual apartments, the RMC was wrestling with a buy-to-let leaseholder who was refusing to pay substantial service charge arrears – and had responded with a somewhat spurious counterclaim.

The historical nature of the listed building meant that regular maintenance was required to keep it in good repair and so service charge arrears really had the potential to cause major problems for its management.

The RMC had come to an agreement directly with the leaseholder who had then reneged on his side of the deal. After more difficult and unsuccessful negotiations, the RMC directors instructed Bradys, recognising that they were dealing with a difficult individual who was determined not to pay and keen to make life difficult for the RMC!

The leaseholder was representing himself, so we had to give him more time to respond and ensure all communications were appropriate for a ‘litigant in person’. (His sophisticated defence indicated meanwhile that he was getting some good legal advice in the background.)

The RMC directors were exposed to potential costs in excess of £10,000, which would have created a huge shortfall in such a small development.

Emma provided day by day support to the RMC directors, ensuring they had the confidence to continue with the case despite the costs concern.

And this confidence was well-placed: the judge dismissed the leaseholder’s counterclaim and handed down a judgment for all outstanding service charge arrears and interest, plus the RMC’s costs and legal fees.

The judge was clear that this was a case that could have been settled years ago were it not for the individual wasting everyone’s time. Permission to appeal was refused.

This success story is an example of one of many cases that come to us at Brady Solicitors. RMC directors work extremely hard for their fellow leaseholders and when one individual ‘goes rogue’ it can be incredibly time-consuming and stressful. We were pleased to be able to help the RMC to draw a line under this long-running case and to secure repayment of the much-needed and overdue funds.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck with a tricky service charge dispute then please do get in touch. We’d be pleased to provide the advice and support to guide you through.

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With hundreds of years’ worth of combined experience, our experts have dealt with nearly every leasehold property matter you can imagine. If you’re currently in need of legal support or advice, please get in touch.

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