2 August 2018 by Leah Veasey

Tenants’ Tales: Mr Anderson’s CCJ

A series of blogs following the lives of fictitious characters designed to help explain the legal aspects of leasehold living in a fun yet educational way.

Tenant's Tale

Mr Anderson (the owner of the inherited penthouse) stared blankly at the collection of letters on the breakfast bar.  A County Court Judgment, against him, for non-payment of service charges.  “How the devil has that happened?” he thought – his domestic P.A., Roberta (“call me Bertie”) always dealt with his service charge invoices for him.  In fact, she dealt with all of those boring, life-admin tasks for him, as he could just never find the time.

Then the penny dropped – Bertie had been on maternity leave for a couple of months now and her cover, well, she wasn’t quite Bertie.  Sure enough, when he headed into his home office, there was a very visible stack of reminder letters from Flats Are Us, the managing agent, along with some warning letters from their solicitors.  “Oh sugar,” Mr Anderson muttered, as he flopped into the office chair, and picked up the phone to try and get out of paying.

All of a sudden, things were not quite as straightforward as Mr Anderson had envisaged;  he ran through possible excuses in his head but none of them seemed to fly.  “I was on holiday…” – “Well that’s a long holiday, you should have paid it before you went away.”  “I didn’t receive the demand…” – “Our records show that it was sent to the same address that we always use, is that no longer the correct address for you?”  “My dog ate it…” – “Are you keeping a pet in the flat without permission, Mr Anderson?”

In the end, he opted to tell the truth, explained exactly what happened, and progress was made.  But, the figure that he had been asked to pay was larger than the amount of service charges outstanding, and Mr Anderson wasn’t clear why – after a short conversation with a very helpful lady at the solicitors firm, it became apparent that the figure included additional sums, such as legal fees and court costs.  “Can’t I just pay the service charges? I didn’t choose to use a solicitor, Flats Are Us did, shouldn’t they pay you?!”

Unfortunately for Mr Anderson, his lease contained a rather robust costs recovery clause, which entitled his Landlord to recover their legal costs from him, as well as interest on the unpaid service charges.  As the amounts had been accruing for a few months now, the sums had quickly mounted up.  However, as the very helpful lady at the solicitors firm explained, as he had contacted them to clear things up so soon after receipt of the CCJ, she would be able to apply for it to be entirely removed, and it would not affect his credit rating.  “Every cloud…” he thought, as he made a card payment over the phone.

Mr Anderson certainly learned a couple of lessons that day; don’t leave your service charges unpaid, don’t lie to solicitors, and… he really missed Bertie!



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