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Lawyer Legal Fee Shenanigans Over Service Charge Late Payment

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  • Lawyer Legal Fee Shenanigans Over Service Charge Late Payment

    Hello all, I hope you're keeping safe. I have another (it's been a busy year!) problem with lawyers and service charges, I'll try to keep it brief.
    I own a leasehold flat and we exercised Right to Manage a couple of years ago and appointed a managing agent to run things. I and other residents have a service charge dispute which has been ignored by the agent so I decided, against better judgement, to withhold part of the annual s/c payment. I wrote to the agent detailing the dispute and promptly received a letter from JB Leitch Solicitors threatening court action and demanding 240 legal fees including a small interest charge.

    My lease allows the lessor to claim interest and legal fees and quotes Section 146 and 147 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and I understand that the managing agent requires written consent from the Landlord/Lessor to collect legal fees and interest, so in Feb 2020 I wrote to the solicitor asking if they had such permission. They wrote back today with:

    "...please find attached copy of your lease, we refer to Schedule 2, Clause 3 (a) & (c) with regards to interest and costs claimed. Please note, these costs remain payable in accordance with the above clauses due to the breach lease, which was a result of non-payment."

    I've attached a copy of the relevant pages of the lease. The cheeky sods have also upped the costs, stating:

    "The total sum due at the time that the initial letter before action was sent was 271.40. However, as you are aware, the legal costs requested were only 240.00. In light of the above, payment in the sum of 269.05 is required in order to settle the matter."

    I know that I've been an idiot and should have paid first then disputed the service charges, but I was annoyed about the lack of response from the agent.
    Is it correct that they need prior authority from the Landlord to pursue for these fees, or am i bang to rights? Oh... I paid the s/c straight away.

    tks for your help (again!)
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