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Freeholder pursuing us for costs after we sold flat

(5 Posts)
TremoloGreen Mon 10-Aug-15 16:02:38

Could anyone advise how best to resolve this... have laid out a timeline below

1. We and the other leaseholders were notified by our freeholder of major works being needed to our building and rough costs
2. The work was then not started for nearly a year
3. In that time, I was expecting another child and we decided to sell up and move to get more space
4. We let our buyers know that works were planned and the estimated costs, then set up a retainer in excess of the costs so that once the works were carried out, they could show an invoice to our solicitor and get the retainer released to them, enabling them to pay for the work
5. Sale of the flat took flipping aaages, as these things do!
6. Between exchange and completion (4 days before completion) the freeholder issued us with an invoice for the work. It had not started at this stage.
7. Our solicitor advised us to ignore it as the retainer etc was all set up and the freeholder should invoice the new owners when the work was complete - we did this
8. Freeholder is now issuing us with final demands etc for the work.
9. I ask him to invoice the new owners and explain that then the retainer will be released and he'll be paid
10. He absolutely refuses and maintains that we are responsible as he issued the invoice to us originally
11. We're now somehow supposed to come up with nearly 5k to pay the freeholder, meanwhile the retainer we already paid will sit in our solicitor's bank account forever more!!

I have asked the freeholder to liaise directly with my solicitor in the hope this can be sorted out. Did our solicitor advise us wrongly (#7)?

Collaborate Mon 10-Aug-15 17:36:58

It depends entirely on the wording in the lease as to when the invoice fall due. It certainly should have been cleared up though before exchange and completion.

TremoloGreen Mon 10-Aug-15 18:10:19

There is nothing in the lease that says the LL can collect money for work in advance. It just says that we are liable for XX% of the cost of any necessary works.

I am guessing that we should be able to come to some agreement with the purchasers that we can release the money direct to the freeholder and this might be the easiest way to give everyone what they want.

TremoloGreen Mon 10-Aug-15 18:16:52

The work was finished last week. However, the LL claims that the invoice sent to us around the time the work was due to start is the 'final invoice'.

Collaborate Mon 10-Aug-15 18:48:15

It would seem to me that the only time a cause of action accrues is when the work has been done and the leaseholder has failed to pay for it. I do agree though that it would be easiest all round if the buyers settle the bill out of the retained sum. Perhaps their solicitor can pay the freeholder direct?

BTW you'll probably get more of a response on the other site you've posted this on. It tends to get going later in the evening, though it's had some tech problems the last few days.

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