DOZENS of shocked Haresfinch residents have launched a legal fight after being sent letters charging them new admin fees.
Residents of around 60 leasehold homes in Newlands Road, Woodlands Road and Litherland Crescent have received letters from Anderton Estate Investments warning them of extra charges if they don’t buy their lease.
Tom Eccleston, 64, of Newlands Road, who’s acting as a spokesman for the residents, said: “We’ve lived here for about 40 years and have always paid a ground rent of about £3 per year - apart from a period when they stopped sending bills.
“In the past our landlord was the late George Anderton, but now Anderton Estate Investments are pushing for everyone to buy the leases on their properties - for up to £1,850 each, including costs.
“Anyone who can’t afford them or doesn’t want to buy them has had an annual £87 admin fee added to their bill. So we’re now being told to pay £90 a year instead of £3 a year.
“Residents who are self employed have been threatened with eviction for using their home as a base for a business and anyone who has had an extension on their property is suddenly being hit with heavy penalty charges.”
Mike Teinert, of Frodshams Solicitors, has taken up the case on the residents’ behalf and has written to the freeholders.
He said: “Admin charges can be sought for legitimate reasons but cannot just be added to an annual bill as a matter of course. It’s the first time I’ve ever encountered admin fees being applied in this way.”
Rosemary Pointing, of Anderton Estate Investments, defending the company’s tactics, adding: “Many of our tenants have wilfully refused to pay ground rent or abide by the terms of their leases for many years.
“This causes a great deal of work – in fact Anderton Estates currently makes a loss – and we are legally entitled to recover our costs by imposing a reasonable admin charge.
“We have not threatened anyone with eviction for a breach of the terms on of their lease, though that option remains open.
“We are currently negotiating to sell all the freeholds to a specialist company which is likely to be far more efficient and ruthless in extracting charges and breach fees than we are.
“Unfortunately some tenants have taken it upon themselves to bombard us with offensive and threatening letters and emails rather than face up to their responsibilities.”
When the Reporter putAnderson Estate Investments claims about about threatening letter to Mr Eccleston, he said he would be “surprised” if any residents had acted in this way.