First published: Thursday, 25 September 2008 19:54
HFI and Partners are obliged to send you a statement concerning rights when they send you a bill. A copy of this can be found at here.
You should pay special attention to section 3 in the document. This states that your rights may not apply if “a matter has been agreed or admitted by you”. If you simply pay your bill, you may be giving up your right to challenge the bill as payment can be considered to be an agreement. You should make sure what the position is if you think you may challenge the bill.
Similarly your rights may no longer apply if you go through a process of arbitration. You may find that there is no right of appeal if you do not agree with the decision. Once again you should make sure of the position before agreeing to go to arbitration.
The statement is comprehensive and lets you know what you can ask in respect of your bill. Basically you can ask to see all the costs and breakdowns for your bill. This is true for your annual service charges and any major works bills you are sent. You may also ask a professional representative, e.g., a lawyer, accountant or surveyor to inspect your bill on your behalf but you will liable to pay their fees for doing so.
You can also challenge any bill through the courts. This is usually done at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. The ILA cannot advise you whether you may have a case or not: we are not properly qualified. Since you may lose at the LVT you should make any decision in consultation with a properly qualified person.
Experience that has been passed on to us suggests that cases will take a long time to prepare, that you should have a full collection of documents and you should seek legal advice. Your advisor will tell you what documents you should have and may handle your case for you.
That being said, the LVT is reasonably user-friendly and has been established specifically to hear cases from ordinary people.
We have included links to several cases involving Islington leaseholders to give you an idea of cases that have been successful and the kind of things the Tribunal takes into consideration.