Below are 2 templates for objecting to the 1) Service Charge recharges, 2) Ground Rent increase. Please note, while the ground rent may seem like not a big deal in the grand scheme of things (roughly £150), this is by far the WORST thing and will cost you much more than the 6 years of re-charges as it impacts re-mortgaging etc.

Service Charge Recharges
E-Mail: [email protected]

Subject: Payment Made Under Protest and Request for Proof of Notification

Dear Mr. Thompson,

I hope this email finds you well.

I am writing regarding the recent service charge recharges for the years 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 that I have received from LIV, with further years expected shortly.

Firstly, I would like to state that while I have made the payment for these charges, it has been done so under protest. According to Section 20B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:

(1) If any of the relevant costs taken into account in determining the amount of any service charge were incurred more than 18 months before a demand for payment of the service charge is served on the tenant, then (subject to subsection (2)), the tenant shall not be liable to pay so much of the service charge as reflects the costs so incurred.
(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply if, within the period of 18 months beginning with the date when the relevant costs in question were incurred, the tenant was notified in writing that those costs had been incurred and that they would subsequently be required under the terms of the lease to contribute to them by the payment of a service charge.

I have not received any such notifications within the stipulated timeframe. I have also been informed that other leaseholders have claimed not to have received these letters.

To address this matter properly, I kindly request the following:

To address this matter properly, I kindly request the following:

  1. Proof that letters notifying leaseholders of the relevant costs for the years 2018 and 2019 were sent within the 18-month period. This should include copies of the letters and evidence of the dates they were sent.
  2. Detailed information on the specific costs incurred during these years that have resulted in the additional charges. This should include a breakdown of each cost item, the date it was incurred, and the purpose of the expenditure.
  3. Clarification on the process and reason for any delays in notifying leaseholders of these charges. If there were any exceptional circumstances that caused these delays, please provide detailed explanations.
  4. A full copy of the accounts and supporting documentation for the service charges for the years 2018 and 2019. This should include invoices, receipts, and any other relevant financial records.
  5. Confirmation of whether any sinking fund or reserve fund contributions are included in the service charge demands, and if so, the details of these funds, including their current balance and any planned future expenditure.
  6. Information on the consultation process followed in accordance with Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 for any qualifying works or long-term agreements that may have contributed to these charges.

It is my understanding that general statements such as “there may be adjustments” are not sufficient to meet the legal requirements. Any notification should specify the exact nature of the costs incurred, such as “water pump was damaged, and we do not have the final invoice yet,” to ensure transparency and adherence to the law.

    I would appreciate a prompt response to this matter, including the requested documentation and explanations. If it is found that the notifications were not sent within the required timeframe, I will expect a refund of the charges paid under protest. The above statements are only an extract of the reasons I am paying under protest, but cover the main reasons.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your prompt response.

    Kind regards,

    [Your Full Name]
    [Your Flat Number]
    Marco Island Apartments
    [Your Contact Information]

    Rent Increase:
    E-Mail: [email protected]

    [Your Name]
    [Your Address]
    [City, Postal Code]
    [Email Address]
    [Phone Number]

    E&J Estates
    Prospect Place, Moorside Road
    Winchester, SO23 7RX

    Dear E&J Estates

    Subject: Unfair Increase in Ground Rent

    I am writing to formally express my concern regarding the recent increase in ground rent for the properties within the Marco Island apartment block. The new ground rent of £448.59 represents a significant increase from the previous amount, which us leaseholders believe is unfair and disproportionate.

    Grounds for Protest

    Upon reviewing the terms of the lease and the current legislative landscape, several points underscore the unfairness of this increase (not complete list):

    1. Excessive Ground Rent: The new ground rent constitutes approximately 0.528% of the average property value (£85,000), which is well above the typical threshold of 0.1% that many mortgage lenders consider acceptable. This excessive rate negatively impacts the property’s marketability and the leaseholders’ ability to secure a mortgage. Numerous leaseholders have already stated that they are in negative equity and failure to pay can impact all leaseholders within the post code.
    2. Impact on Financial Viability: With exceptionally high service charges, service charges re-charges and 14 increases in mortgage rates over the past year, selective licensing fees, agency fees the increased ground rent places an undue financial burden on the leaseholders, making it extremely challenging to maintain the property as a viable investment, especially as these were sold as high-yield buy-to-let investments.
    3. AST Classification: Ground rent exceeding £250 per annum can classify the lease as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). This exposes leaseholders to potential eviction risks under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 if they fall into arrears and thus make it much more difficult to remortgage.
    4. Legislative Changes: The UK Government has recognised the unfairness of ground rents and has abolished new ground rents for future leases. Furthermore, there is an expectation that ground rents for existing leases may also be abolished, reflecting a broader move towards fairer leasehold practices.

    Steps We Are Taking

    Please be advised that the leaseholders will be paying the increased ground rent under protest. We expect a refund of the overcharged amount once this issue is resolved. Additionally, a number of leaseholders are pooling resources to address this situation collectively. We are in early stages of communication with the following entities:

    • National Leasehold Campaign: To gather support on the broader impact of unfair ground rent practices and how others have successfully fought against it.
    • Property Ombudsman and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA): To file formal complaints and seek intervention given the unfair increase.
    • Specialist Solicitors: To explore legal avenues and ensure our rights as leaseholders are protected we are in the process of finalising our selection of solicitor. Given the short time frame before the rent is due, we were forced to send this letter to you ourselves.
    • Local Member of Parliament (MP): To raise awareness and seek support at the national level.
    • Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE): For advice and guidance on handling unfair ground rent increases.
    • Local Council Housing Department: For additional support and advice.
    • Citizens Advice: For advice on leasehold concerns.
    • Fairer Share Campaign: To support broader leasehold reform efforts and to share our story around E&J and what us leaseholders believe to be unfair terms imposed on us.

    Request for Resolution

    We are prepared to take this matter to court if necessary, understanding that such proceedings can take around 1-2 years to resolve, unless the expected new legislature brings on a faster resolution. However, we hope to find an amicable solution outside of court through open communication and negotiation. We kindly request a meeting with a representative of the freeholders to discuss this matter further and explore possible solutions.

    We look forward to your prompt response and hope for a fair resolution to this pressing issue.

    Yours sincerely,

    [Your Full Name]
    [Your Flat Number]
    Marco Island Apartments
    [Your Contact Information]