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Shenstone Properties...ground rent demand?(14 Posts)
I wonder if someone can help me, I own a flat that I currently rent out with no issues.
I bought the flat 2 years ago and was informed that there was a peppercorn ground rent of £5 p/a, but this had never been collected since the property was converted to flats in 1983. The landlord had been declared 'absentee' as a result. As such my solicitors took out an absentee landlord indemnity policy just in case, and a buildings indemnity policy to allow me to look after the fabric of the building were my fellow leaseholder not to.
Since buying the property I have heard nothing more about it. Until this letter, which states:
"We write to you regarding an outstanding debt on the property that you currently reside in and would in the first instance request that you contact us upon receipt of this letter as a matter of urgency as there is a debt on the above property for which we have received a county court judgement.
Our next course of action is to continue through the courts to the extent that forfeiture will be gained regarding this property and ultimately the ownership of the property could be returned to us.
To you, this will result in you having to find alternative accommodation.
Now, as far as I am aware there has been no forfeiture as there has been no request... Looking at the land registry the original house was once party to a freehold/leasehold agreement back in 1911 with different people/companies but the current flat is party to this peppercorn agreement with a named man who obviously converted the property in 1983.
I am going to call them in the morning but have been trying to dig around a little. The letter doesn't even state what this debt is about, but the only reference I can find on this company (no website ) is various threads on consumer websites about their dodgy tactics, specifically to do with ground rent so I have put 2 and 2 together...the letter gives nothing away! If they are not forthcoming/helpful I'm tempted to refer them directly to my solicitor who has the insurance paperwork etc I think.
There was even a House of Commons debate about 'ground rent grazers' about 10 yrs back naming them specifically.
I guess I just wondered if there was anyone out there who knew abything about this sort of thing? I have no objection to paying £5 per year ground rent at all, but I would object to paying it a company I've never heard of, have no paperwork with etc. If I pay them ground rent surely they then have responsibilities towards me as a leaseholder etc? Surely there must be paperwork, not just this final-seeming demand?
If you haven't had any court papers they do not have a CCJ against you. The court would have sent you a claim form giving details of the claim and giving you an opportunity to respond. They only way they could have got a CCJ without your knowledge is if the papers got lost somewhere along the line (e.g. your tenant received the papers but failed to pass them on) in which case you can apply to have the judgement set aside.
Indeed, before they went for a CCJ there should have been a proper ground rent demand in the format specified in s.166 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. Until they have issued that you don't owe them anything. They may claim that they don't have to send reminders or demands - I believe they have history on this count. They are wrong.
They haven't said there has been any forfeiture. They are threatening that you may lose the flat if you don't pay. The law is that forfeiture can be considered if you are more than 3 years in arears, which you obviously are. However, under the Limitation Act 1980 they can only sue you for the last 6 years ground rent, so they can only sue you for £30.
If you do owe them anything it should be covered by your absentee landlord indemnity policy. I suspect they will try to inflate the amount owing by adding on large admin and recovery costs and other additional charges pushing the amount owing up to several hundred pounds.
They should provide proof that they are now the landlords and issue a proper ground rent demand. If I were you I would also work out how much you have spent on the fabric of the building in the last 2 years and tell them that, unless they withdraw their claim, you will be taking action against them to recover this money.
I suspect they won't be helpful (words like rude, abusive and sarcastic keep cropping up when people deal with them) in which case you should tell them that you will be referring the matter to your solicitor and that they may be liable for your legal costs.
I have had a ground rent demand from Shenstone Properties Limited claiming £10 for ground rent unpaid for two years and a further £70 debt recovery and administration charge. I called the company to say I never received any letters from them and this is the first I've heard of the company. Mrs Malden and Mrs Wagstaff to whom I tried to speak to were incredibly unprofessional and down right rude to me on the phone and said that a break down of costs would be in the post and that they were "terminating the call". They said they refused to be "shouted at" which I was not doing. I simply wanted an explanation as to why I've lived in my freehold property since 2003 and yet only heard about them in 2009.
The ground rents must have been brought out by a company who are now trying to get all the ground rents owed which is fine but to impose £70 for admin charges - which actually entailed sending out an automated letter on photocopy format is simply unjustified. The cost of that piece of paper is no more than 18p plus postage.
Shenstone Properties operate only through a PO Box and only accept cheques which in 2011 is slightly concerning - are they a legitimate company - is this a legitimate way to trade in 2011?
Who owned the rents before and why were they not claimed. Shenstone Properties Limited are acting in a very unprofessional way, sending out threatening letters, fabricating stories and terminating calls with clients. They have very little website information and contact is impossible with them. They only send out letters, they do not telephone to remind you of outstanding charges they seem to believe are due!
I am seeking legal advice which I can get for free as I work for a large magic circle law firm in the City of London so please do watch this space as I will be on their case.
Can they really take us to court over a letter we did not recieve ? Can they really impose £70 debt charges - thats 70% interest - surely the Financial Services would have something to say about this and can they really trade in this matter, surely the Trading Standards would like to cast their eye over this organisation?
The directors of the company really need to look into how Shenstones are managing their ground rents - no one is going to pay money to Shenstones if they continue to do business in this manner. I've never come across two people so unprofessional to clients, Mrs Wagstaff and Mrs Malden conduct is unacceptable.
Please let me know if you have had court proceedings letters from them and whether they really did take even attempt to take you to court - what a costly business that would be for them....I cannot believe and nor do legal experts I have spoken to believe that they really would even attempt to go this far as under the Trading Standards they don't have a leg to stand on. I will pay my £10 ground rent but will be arguing their debt fees until it sinks in to them that the legality they seem to be claiming these debts on has well and truly be overridden under the Trading Standards and Financial Services rules and regulations. More specific details will follow.
They have a long history of this kind of behaviour. They chase people for more years back rent than they are entitled to claim and add on large fees to inflate the amount owed. They also have a history of claiming to have CCJs against people when they have not taken any kind of legal action. It has been going on for so long that I am sure the directors are well aware of how they conduct their business.
Hi Shelley caould you let me know how you get on as im looking into buying my ground rent form the same people ? email me if you could firstname.lastname@example.org
Our house is leasehold and has a really complicated history of lease/sublease/etc which made it impossible for us to buy the freehold as we initially wanted (we were told it would cost more in lawyers fees than it was worth) The lease is now owned by Shenstone.
The first bill we recieved fom them was double the amount it should have been, DH contacted them pointing out the error and we have had no problems since.
If there is a ground rent, chief rent or rentcharge on your property then details can be found within the deeds to your property. If there is and then you are legally required to pay it.
You can redeem a chief rent or a rentcharge on a freehold property by applying to the Department for Communities and Local Government at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/redemptionrentcharges?view=Standard . They can be contacted on 0303 4444558
However if you wish to buy the freehold on a leasehold property then I would recommend contacting the Leasehold Advisory Service at www.lease-advice.org
I've just read with interest your notes about Shenstone. I too have to pay ground rent to them. And I rang them the other day to ask if I could pay by standing order and they don't let you. As you say, how odd in this day and age? How did you get on ShelleyNichols? Do we know how bonifidey this company are?
Love to hear from you.
As I have said in previous years(!), Shenstone are a bona fide company. However, they have a reputation for trying claim more years back rent than they are entitled, adding on large fees for administration and recovery costs which may well be more than the courts would award, claiming to have CCJs when they have not taken any legal action and being rude, abusive and sarcastic.
They must issue a proper ground rent demand in the format specified in s.166 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. This means the demand must show the amount owed, the date by which you must pay and, if different, the date the payment was due under the lease. They must give you between 30 and 60 days to pay from the date of this notice. Until they issue this notice you don't owe them anything. So, assuming you are up to date with your ground rent, they must issue this notice for each further payment as it becomes due.
I am wondering if anyone has any update on Shenstone?
I too have received the threatening letters. I have also tried to phone to speak to them and has the phone slammed down on me. I have tried to pay them by sending a postal order (! in this day and age) by registered post. When Royal Mail deliver the envelope there is nobody answering the door so they leave a notificiation. Shenstone then say they have not received any notification from Royal Mail that they tried to deliver it.
I can't actually seem to find a way to give them the money!
I am now worried about my credit rating. Has anyone hasd their credit rating adversely affected by their dealing with this company. Has anyone ever been taken to court by Shenstone?
I have received a ground rent demand and insurance demand for a flat I have owned for 6 years and rent out. Shenstone properties were informed of my change of address last March but they still sent it to my previous address. I have a redirection set up with the post office and only received one demand from them dated the 19th Feb 2013. The monies were due back in November but had not received a reminder from them until now demanding the rent plus an extra £70 debt retrieval handling charge. I called today to say that this was an error and the cheque is in the post, only to be confronted by an extremely weird rude women, who laughed at my new address, told me she could spell when I spelt my village name to her then proceeded to call me a liar when I told her I had informed her of my change of address, she then told me to send proof and laughed when I said I could send an email, apparently she rudely told me she doesn't have email! I then tried to reason with her but sadly she was too full of herself and her rudeness to get anything sensible out of her mouth. She then said she was terminating the call. I have never had such a rude person speak to me on the phone in all my life, and I am now worried that such an unprofessional company is the freeholder of the property I own and bought...what a worry. I have asked our managment company to put this issue on the next yearly agenda, they are already aware of the issues with this company. So for all of you I feel for you as I have just experienced a similar thing, and wondered if anyone out there reading this could try and get one of these TV programmes involved where they reveal this company and what they are up to... they shouldn't be allowed to stress people out like they are doing
come back Ester Ranzen!
I just recieved a letter to day from shenstone, demanding £77 for I house I own for just 3 years
Ground rent £7 yearly
They r constantly on lunch do just ignoring it
Sounds like you've bought your properties leasehold as opposed to freehold in which case they are charging your ground rent. Consult a solicitor if you're confused. Also - you can check if your property is leasehold on your documents or on Land Registry.
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