If we are talking about the bullying of leaseholders – well, it’s in the job title darling! Let me explain a recent experience.
Most leaseholders’ contact with our landlord Camden is likely to be around the subject of service charges. We are then faced with one of its team with the title “Collections Officer”. In other words, a ‘debt collector’.
We had disputed and withheld part of an actual charge and Camden had put this invoice ‘on hold’ while they resolved the matter. We next received a credit against another invoice (which we had already fully paid). Camden insisted on applying the credited amount to the disputed invoice, they said: “our automated allocations payment system doesn’t recognise invoices that are on hold. Therefore overpayments or credit notes cannot be prevented from crediting invoices on hold.”
We insisted that the credit should be applied to the latest payment due and so we paid less against that invoice. When we received a ‘final demand’ for payment we did not pay. Camden provided our address and the outstanding debt amount to its solicitors and they sent us their ‘£5 letter’, extracts: “If you do not pay this debt in full … will also seek to recover the cost of this letter which is £5. Further we will be instructed to issue you with a Pre-Action Protocol Letter of Claim … cost of that letter which is £75. In addition … recover interest on the debt owed.” Is this not an example of bullying?
Camden has admitted the problem we encountered is inherent in its automated payment system. This needs to be fixed. However, as a resident ratepayer we applaud Camden’s renewed efforts to recover unpaid bills which would otherwise be borne by all residents in the borough. Who has met a friendly and understanding debt collector?