Mum mum has been letting out her flat for seven years, but has now been issued with a subletting fee off £130. This seems unfair as the Upper Tribunal has reported that £40 is a reasonable fee. Can we just pay £40 and hope they don’t know about the previous years?
Problematic. Your mum seems to be in the wrong for subletting her flat for some time without the freeholder’s consent, which is a breach of lease. No court will sympathise. So you are not in a strong position to quibble about the sublet fee. Our advice to all leaseholders is to pay the demand and then seek a written ruling on the reasonableness of the fee. The key point is: Pay first; fight second. This avoids the risk of legal fees, if the leaseholder is unsuccessful.
That said, it is essential to check your lease to see that a sublet consent is actually required at all. If in any doubt, ask the freeholder to identify the clause in the lease that requires his consent and fee.
Dreamed-up subletting fees are a nice, not-so-little earner for freeholders: sometimes the demand for a fee is served on flat owners who have never sublet at all.
Pier has even served subletting fee demands on the dead.