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Service charge arrears FAQ

What will happen if I don’t respond to the final reminder letter?

You must pay the arrears in full or contact us to agree a reasonable payment plan within
the time frame stated in the letter, otherwise we will:

  1. take legal action by making a claim against you in the County Court for the money that you owe us (see the section “Court action” below for further details)

  2. contact your lender (if you have one and you are a leaseholder) – they may pay the arrears for you and add them to your mortgage but they may also charge you a fee for this and they might also take legal action against you

  3. take action to repossess your parking space/garage if you rent one from the Council.

Why have you charged me an arrears recovery fee?

Most leaseholders pay their service charges promptly. The council incurs extra administration costs in recovering arrears (sending multiple reminder letters, making telephone calls and so on) from leaseholders who pay their service charges late, and so these leaseholders are charged a arrears recovery fee at the final reminder stage.

How can I pay?

See the Service charges page or your reminder letter for details on how you can pay your charges

Where can I get help and advice?

Please contact Home Ownership if you would like to discuss your arrears. You’ll find the name and telephone number of the officer who is dealing with your account on your final reminder letter. If you are finding it difficult to pay, we can discuss your options and ways we can help you. You can also find useful help and advice in the  Money advice section of our website. You may also wish to seek independent legal advice.

What should I do if I receive a claim form from the court?

If you agree that you owe the money, you should pay the cost of the claim (the arrears interest, court fees and solicitors’ costs) in full so that a County Court judgment is not registered against you. If you can’t pay in full, contact Home Ownership immediately to discuss a formal arrangement to pay by instalments.
Don’t ignore the claim form - if you do nothing, we will ask the court to enter judgment against you without further notice and you will have to pay a judgment fee and further interest.
The court costs and solicitors’ costs vary depending on the amount of the arrears.

What if I don’t agree that I owe the money?

You can defend the case. Follow the instructions in the pack that the court sends you with the claim and make sure that you reply within the 14 days that the court gives you. There will then be a hearing in the court or your case (if you are a leaseholder) may be referred to the First Tier Tribunal. The First Tier Tribunal is responsible for deciding whether a leasehold service charge is fair and reasonable and whether you should pay it.

What will happen if Islington Council gets a county court judgment against me?

If a county court judgment (CCJ) is made against you, this means that the court has issued a formal decision that you must pay the amount claimed by the Council. The court will enter your name on the register of judgments and unless you pay the full amount of the judgement within one month, your name will stay on the register for six years. This can make it difficult for you to get credit. Organisations like banks look at the register when they decide whether to give you credit like a loan or overdraft.
Once we have got a CCJ against you, we will look to “enforce” the judgement. This will force you to pay the arrears and extra legal fees – for example:

  • getting an Attachment of Earnings order so that your employer pays some of your wages directly to us to clear your arrears;
  • securing the debt against your property (like a mortgage) and then getting an Order for Sale to force you to sell your property and pay us the money you owe us from the proceeds of the sale.
  • If you are a leaseholder, we can ask the court to order that your lease is terminated (forfeited). If the court agrees and your lease is forfeited, you lose your rights of ownership. This means that you can be evicted and your property returned to the Council. You will still have to pay the judgment debt and your mortgage, if you have one.

If you are not sure what to do, you should get independent legal advice from a solicitor or an advice agency.

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