If you don't pay the service charges, you're breaking the terms of your lease.
All service charges must be paid on completion of the sale.
When the lease is assigned, your solicitor will fix the service charges based on the date of sale - assignment - and claim a proportion from the buyer. The buyer will be responsible for the following quarterly or annual invoice and any subsequent invoices.
Remember that service charges are first issued as estimates. At the end of each accounting period - after 31 March - an 'actual' charge will be issued. This can be lower or higher than the estimated charge.
The person who is the leaseholder of the property on the date the summary notice of the actual or final service charge account is issued, usually by the 30 September, is responsible for payment of the deficit or excess charge. They will also get any credit on the actual service charge account.
We will advise your solicitor and the solicitor acting for the purchaser to make arrangements to 'hold money on retention' to cover any deficit, when completing the sale.
If there is a dispute about the service charge, we will normally insist on the full amount of the charge being retained by your solicitor until the dispute has been resolved.
Within 1 month of the sale taking place, the solicitor acting for the new leaseholder must register the change of ownership with our legal department.
There is a charge for registering the change of owner - 'Notice of Assignment'.