A NEW law on how companies collect ground rents will come into force next year.
The move follows pressure from Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman for safeguards to protect people from billing abuses.
He has been flooded by complaints about London-based property company Estates and Management, who look after many thousands of ground rents for Huddersfield people.
Kirklees Council sold the rents to the company several years ago.
Mr Michael Coldbeck, of Salendine Nook, is among many people who have received a bill for a £35 ``administration" surcharge for non-payment of ground rent.
As well as criticising the firm's aggressive letters, Mr Coldbeck has slammed Kirklees for selling the leaseholds. They were sold in two phases, in 1994 and 1996. Discussions took place in secret.
Thousands of Huddersfield people pay Estates and Management small ground rents.
"The council made a decision which is going to adversely affect many, many Huddersfield citizens for the rest of their lives, possibly generations," said Mr Coldbeck.
"Yet the victims have no right to know why that decision was made."
The main complaint against the company is that reminder letters never appear.
When the Government's new law comes into force, a leaseholder will have to pay ground rent only if the landlord has sent a written demand in a defined format.
Mr Sheerman has asked Consumer Affairs Minister Melanie Johnson to look into the activities of Estates and Management.
Mr Coldbeck described the firm as "immoral" for preying on the weak and vulnerable, adding: "It makes it as difficult as possible for its tenants to pay on time.
"My cheque for this year's ground rent was returned to me on the grounds that I had not written my address on the back.
"They returned the cheque via my bank, because they claimed not to know my address. By next post I got a letter from Estates and Management, saying I was in arrears."
Kirklees Council has written to the firm about its conduct.
"We have corresponded with them on behalf of former tenants, encouraging a reasonable approach," said acting estates manager Dave Wood. "What is reasonable is, of course, a matter of opinion."
The firm refused to comment.
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