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Received invoice for service I had assumed was free of charge

(18 Posts)
matchstickwoman Wed 04-Jan-17 20:34:37

Background:
I own a leasehold flat and wanted to make some interior structural changes. According to the lease I need permission from the freeholder and a 'Licence of Alterations'. I have to pay the freeholders solicitor over 1,000 pounds to have this licence drawn up. As I want to knock down one interior wall I need a structural surveyors report with calculations, which I have paid for, as well as buildings regulations certificate from the local council, which I also paid for. All OK. I did wince a bit at the 1,000 cost for the licence but accept this is part of living in a leasehold flat.

Issue:
The freeholder asked me if his surveyor could attend the flat to review the works before the Licence of Alterations was issued. I said OK, my builder also joined this meeting. My builder told me the meeting lasted no longer than 10 minutes. I have since received a bill from the Freeholders surveyor for 450 pounds for this service. I was not told there would be a charge for this service and as far as I am aware it was not necessary in order for the licence to be issued as the only thing necessary is the buildings regulation certificate.
Do I have to pay this 450 pounds? Surely the surveyor should have made me aware he intended to charge for this?

Any answers will be appreciated as this is a large sum of money I do not have.

user1480946351 Thu 05-Jan-17 01:56:02

I would send it back stating that as the freeholder engaged him and directed him to attend, the freeholder is responsible for any bills.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Thu 05-Jan-17 02:03:38

I agree - not your bill to pay.

RebootYourEngine Thu 05-Jan-17 05:09:57

I would have assumed the same as you. Contact the surveyor and tell them that you arent paying and the bill needs to go to the freeholder.

matchstickwoman Thu 05-Jan-17 09:15:20

thanks to everyone who replied. This was my intention but it is good to get consensus view on this. I will politely tell the surveyor to refer back to the person who instructed him for payment.
Everyone's help and input is appreciated.

Hercules12 Thu 05-Jan-17 09:17:29

I agree with others. Perhaps it was an admin error as you didn't engage his services in the first place.

Zampa Thu 05-Jan-17 09:19:52

Your lease may oblige you to pay all of the freeholder's costs associated with your application. This should be qualified as "reasonable" costs. As you paid for the Licence to Alter, I expect this clause is in your lease.

As a surveyor myself, I would expect the freeholder to appoint their own surveyor to review your works, especially structural alterations. I would therefore assume that you do have to pay this bill.

throwingpebbles Thu 05-Jan-17 09:21:19

See what the lease says. It is not unusual for leaseholder to be required pay landlord's surveyors costs. However, most leases will say you only have to pay their "reasonable" costs. I'm in commercial property though so not sure if there is any extra protection in residential? Hopefully someone in the know will advise!

throwingpebbles Thu 05-Jan-17 09:21:53

X-post xamba !

titchy Thu 05-Jan-17 09:25:11

I agree - I'd expect to pay freeholders costs too. Assume the surveyors charges by the hour, and includes travelling time?

Zampa Thu 05-Jan-17 09:28:39

Great minds, pebbles!

I think the fee sounds reasonable. The charge will probably cover the surveyor's time in writing a brief report to their client. For a letter of this type, my colleagues charge about £500 + VAT.

throwingpebbles Thu 05-Jan-17 10:29:31

Yes that's a fair point, I think our surveyors undercharge grin

matchstickwoman Thu 05-Jan-17 17:22:56

Hmmm, OK I dig out the lease. But even so, shouldn't the surveyor have informed me of the cost beforehand, rather than just sending an invoice after the event? Isn't it usual to agree costs upfront for any service?

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 05-Jan-17 18:18:06

I agree with Zampa. It is likely that you have to pay the freeholdre's reasonable costs which would mean solicitors and surveyors.

The freeholder would be entitled to a survey by his own surveyor to comment on the work you intend to carry out and how they affect the value etc of his freehold.

I am afraid you are liable.

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 05-Jan-17 18:19:40

The surveyor is still instructed by the freeholder so it is for him to agree the costs with his surveyor but you would be liable for reasonable costs.

£450 seems very reasonable (actually on the low side) to me. (It will not just relate to the "10 minutes" but travelling, writing up the report for the freeholder, considering the impact of the works etc.

throwingpebbles Thu 05-Jan-17 18:41:33

No it would be normal for surveyor to agree costs with Landlord, not with you.

SpotTheDuck Thu 05-Jan-17 18:46:54

Sorry but it's likely your lease says you have to cover the Landlord's reasonable costs (which would include surveyor as well as legal costs) and it's very unlikely that you get advance approval of what those costs would be.

Obviously check your lease wording, but you are likely to be liable.

CouldntMakeThisShitUp Thu 12-Jan-17 12:28:00

i would have thought the £450 would be included in the £1,000 you paid to get the licence?

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