Recovering your unpaid charges19/08/16
Is your organisation owed Service and Estate charge payments? Registered Providers, professional landlords and Local Authorities are losing millions of pounds in unpaid charges. Clive Adams and Bridget Stark-Wills answer key questions on recovering charges, with Capsticks’ support.
Do we have the right to recover charges?
To start with, you need to check the debtor’s lease agreement for the right to recover and the right to recover costs of enforcement. We can do this for you for a modest fixed fee. However, we do not check compliance with s.20 consultation requirements, lease mechanics, reasonableness, etc. We can do those things separately but it is not included as standard as part of the fixed fee.
We have a long-standing relationship with our residents – will recovery spoil that?
It's important to be mindful of this relationship and not to act as a debt collection agency might. Our approach is tactful and our costs are very modest, but we are efficient and effective. In some cases, the debt has been outstanding for years, with no justification.
We have some historic debts, is there a time limit on recovery?
Where the right to charge for services is set out in an executed deed (e.g. a Lease), the limitation period for recovery is 12 years. In any other case, or where charges are reserved as rent, up to six years’ debts are recoverable.
Do we need to instruct you – we already have an in-house team?
The decision is yours. We typically work with home ownership or service charge teams but are also instructed by in-house legal departments. We do not create an extra cost as our service is free of charge to you. This allows your in-house teams to focus on other tasks without affecting your budgets.
How long does it take?
This is up to you, subject to certain statutory notice periods relating to the enforcement process. We issue a letter within 48 hours of receiving your instructions and “standard information” (we supply a checklist to make it easy for you to complete). Many debtors pay promptly, others complete admission forms which generate payment by their mortgage lenders. In some cases, we pursue claims all the way to threatened forfeiture.
We have created a debt recovery product from years of experience advising on all aspects of service charges. From lease interpretation, compliance, consultation through to contested cases in the First Tier and Upper Tribunals.
We have a strong team and can handle the most complex of contested cases. Our product anticipates all possible routes the recovery process may take, such as partial admissions, offers to pay in instalments and the interest of lenders. The product covers recovery from right to buy residents, those occupying under shared ownership arrangements and the occupiers of private sector landlords and institutions.
We are confident in our product and encourage you to monitor your recovery cases to assess our performance. Our product gives you access to:
- debtor name and address
- sum owing
- most recent action
- forthcoming deadline
- duration of cases.
So, no deadlines pass without action.