How Land Registry Can Help Property Investors With Late Fees and Legal Proceedings?

Brett Alegre-Wood
October 20, 2022

Hey guys, 

We are currently getting a lot of Block Managers, Local Councils, Freeholders and Utility providers who are now using late fees and legal claim to profit from landlords. This includes getting judgements against landlords very quickly and simply when you don’t defend yourself from a claim. 

I realise this is a hassle but it is necessary nowadays otherwise you may face late fees, legal fees and ultimately may actually have your property repossessed. 

It is no longer enough to simply tell your conveyancer that you are buying it as a Buy To Let and relying on them to record the address correctly. Nor can you rely on your Lettings Agent to update these things or receive bills. Ultimately it is always you as the Landlord of the property that needs to ensure your details are up to date as follows. 

The landscape has changed as Third parties earn easy revenue from Landlords.

We are having to devote more and more time to dealing with these issues of bills not being received, managing agents changing and sending to the property, new buildings not having a managing agent for the first 3 months, 6 months, 2 years even and late bills arriving the same day as the original demand. I haven’t even gotten into the council that can get a county court claim for vacant period council tax in less that 30 days of it being late. The landscape has changed to become more and more hostile so we as landlords and as Landlords and Agents we have to adapt and change and ensure we are on top of everything. 

So what can we do to ensure we're on top of it. 

Firstly, there are many cases when we cannot do much, except to repeatedly provide the same information over and over again. Many providers are so far behind they just aren't functioning but this doesn't stop them from being aggressive in their approach to landlords. 

Nonetheless here is some simple steps to ensure you can cover yourself should they no be able to get hold of you and which is an effective defence in court. (Yep it may actually get to court because one of there tactics is to wear your down to the point of just paying their ridiculous bills.)

  1. CHECK THE CONTRACT YOU SIGNED BEFORE COMPLETION
    Check your Contract and make sure your address is correct in the notices section of the contract. Remember in the contract you will be called the Tenant (Not the landlord). The Landlord in this sense is the Freeholder of the land. You are the tenant under them.

    The Notices section is normally hidden ¾ of the way down the contract and says something like: 
    • Notices can be served on the Landlord (freeholder) at XXX (being an address).
    • Notices can be served on the Tenant at the property - This is bad because your tenants are unlikely to pass on the mail. 
    • Notices can be served on the Tenant at XXX (your address) - This is good and what you want because this should then be recorded at land Registry.
    • Even with your address in the notices section you will still need to check the following.
  1. DOWNLOAD THE TITLE REGISTER EXTRACT FROM WWW.LANDREGISTRY.GOV.UK
    If you don't have a recent copy then you will need to do a search for your file - https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry.

    It costs about £3 and will give you the correct address where the notices will be sent. If it’s incorrect then you need to change it. 
  1. CHANGE THE ADDRESS LISTED AT LAND REGISTRY FOR YOUR CONTACT, INCLUDING ADDING AN EMAIL.
    Check that your address is updated on Land Registry to the correct address, it’s ideal to use our address and email in this to ensure that it always arrives somewhere known and reliable. https://customerhelp.landregistry.gov.uk/guide-page-external/?stepid=552e2f99-b582-eb11-a812-000d3ad48f95&kbonly=true&setanswer=

You can also see the guidance for the evidence you need to provide with the application. Unfortunately it must be posted, so do not send originals.You can also use a solicitor to do this on your behalf which requires less evidence but obviously will cost more.  Doing it yourself is a free service.

Note - The time it takes to change the details are Land Registry is around 3-4 months (as at Oct22).

You will need a passport sized photo of yourself, passport or driver licence (not original), or either two of a Utility Bill, Mortgage Statement or Council Tax Bill but only one of each of this type.

  1. ELECTORAL ROLL
    I also suggest that you ensure you are on the electoral roll, this is not possible if you live outside the UK. In which case it is imperative that you update through the above form.

A Warning Against Using Your Own Contact Address & Email

Whilst it may seem like a great idea to use your own address and email, you are likely to get bombarded with Estate Agents wanting to sell your property, various scams directed at home owners, all manner of medical and insurance offers, most of the time they are massive mail outs and bombard your email. Simply because the information is in the public record so it’s very easy to see and join to various marketing databases. So be warned.  

As a client of Ezytrac/Gladfish you are able to use our address for use with Land Registry COG1 Form

Contact Address 1
 lr@ezytrac.uk

Contact Address 2
C/Ezytrac Property Management
Suite 6 The Regatta Henley Way
Lincoln Lincolnshire LN6 3QR

You can also use your Accountant’s or Lawyers (with permission) or other suitable address that you can ensure you will receive it. 

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE FOR NEW BUILD PROPERTIES AFTER COMPLETION

The issue is particularly pointed for new properties where there is no managing agent appointed prior to completion of the property. Often Block Managers simply send to the property and ignore other addresses. It is often hard to know who has been assigned as block manager and even if they have, often their initial response is “We will write to you in due course”,  of course they are going to write to the property address not you. 

Bill Payment Services By Agents

It’s rare that an agent will take responsibility for paying all your bills relating to the property, this is because the resources it takes and the risks with not receiving mail are considerable and getting worse.

As an Agent who offers a bill payment service, we can only pay bills we know about, the service is not to track down every provider who runs the block management, landlord licensing, council tax, water, communal heating, energy, gas and other services and we cannot monitor individuals properties to ensure this is kept up to date at all times, in order to do that we would need a full time team checking every quarter, 6 monthly and yearly for changes.

It is hard enough when we know who these providers are to get them to send the correct bills on time, in the right name. Ezytrac literally have 2 full time staff who do nothing else but wait on the phone to speak with providers, while waiting they are emailing other providers and despite doing it once the next round of bills we have to do it all over again.  

The whole industry is a bit of a wild wild west right now. There is little coordination, even less tolerance for anything. We spend hours going back and forth with providers arguing points where we know we are correct but they will not accept, many times we have to provide the same information repeatedly until we find someone competent enough to action the information. 

Ultimately, it has to be you as a landlord that ensures that this is managed and kept up to date. Even staying on top of things it’s hard to ensure this, managing agents will change and the new ones won’t have the details, or perhaps a managing agent hasn’t updated their information for 2 months and so they say the bill wasn’t paid when in fact it was. This all requires time to resend information that they already have. 

These are the challenges we face every day and it’s the same challenges faced by tens of thousands of landlords across the country. 

Surely something has to be done, but alas with the current state of politics it’s clear that nothing will change anytime soon. Hence why the above are essential steps to ensure that you can be contacted.  

Live with passion

Brett


Tags

Land Registry, Late Fees, Legal Fees, Serving Notices


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