We deal with hundreds of leasehold sales a year and there seem to be an ever increasing number of freeholders and management companies trying to cash in.
Gone are the days when you could get away with paying a relatively minimal notice fee to the freeholder. Nowadays it is not unusual for a management company to change upwards of £400 for replies to some fairly basic buyer queries, £300 plus for a deed of covenant, £100 as a notice fee... it all adds up and often to more than our costs as the solicitors dealing with the sale (and for a lot less work!)
The trouble is that sellers are not in a position to dispute the level of costs (even where they are not technically due under the terms of the lease) when they are in a rush to complete their sale so management companies get away with making excessive demands.
With calls for reform getting louder it may only be a matter of time before the Government steps in and starts regulating the position resulting in more red tape and potentially slowing the conveyancing process down further.
I fear the greed of a few may end up working to detriment of all involved.....
I recently sold my leasehold flat and was shocked to find that, in order for the sale to complete, I had to pay the freeholder, Southern Land Securities, and managing agent Hamilton King (the two companies were registered on the same day and share two of the same directors) almost £700.