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Lewisham Homes and Service Charges
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Gep


Posts: 60
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #1
28-03-2009 10:23 AM

Hi, I live in Forest Hill in a block of flats managed by Lewisham Homes.
I have just received the invoice for the service charge which is now over 800 pound, while last year was just over 500.

There has been an increase of 55%!

Has anybody else notice that?
Who would be the best person to complain to? I'm talking about politicians because calling Lewisham Homes has proven useless in the past...

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #2
28-03-2009 10:35 AM

Gep
I assume you own the flat and you say management charges.

Have the council installed entry phone systems , double glazing or any other capitol item which of course leaseholders such as you would have to pay for.

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michael


Posts: 3,198
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #3
28-03-2009 10:42 AM

You can speak to your councillor, who you can find from http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/CouncilAndDem...uncillors/

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Gep


Posts: 60
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #4
28-03-2009 11:17 AM

yes Brian, I own the flat and I'm talking about management charges (they call them service charges).

Each item has increased, in particular Ground Maintenance has doubled!
And has you said there are new items, which make up for an extra hundred pound:
- Sweeping
- Resident Involvement
- Anti-social behaviour
- Customer services

I found it all a bit dodgey though...

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #5
28-03-2009 11:42 AM

Hi Gep
I agree you should query it. If a genuine increase in service not sure what you can do . Unless Capitol Improvements does seem quite high

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jalapeno


Posts: 34
Joined: Oct 2005
Post: #6
28-03-2009 12:56 PM

Gep,

I have also received a similar statement this morning.
'Resident involvement' and 'Antisocial behaviour' are queries I shall be raising on Monday.

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Gep


Posts: 60
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #7
28-03-2009 01:38 PM

And what about the charges for external areas (with this new "sweeping" item):

Grounds maintenance 38.34 64.16
Sweeping 0.00 40.38
Total 38.34 104.54

An increase of 170%! I am shocked.

I have written a letter to John Paschoud, I recommend you do the same.

I will also call the Lewisham Homes on Monday, but I know already what they will say: that they have followed all the legal rules and that we have to pay and shut up.

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nevermodern


Posts: 653
Joined: Feb 2007
Post: #8
28-03-2009 01:38 PM

Shouldn't they have issued you with a section 20 notice for that kind of increase? It does seem steep without consulatation or notice.

Maybe the Leasehold Valuaton Tribunal can help in this case, if the landlord is unable to justify.

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jalapeno


Posts: 34
Joined: Oct 2005
Post: #9
28-03-2009 01:52 PM

I agree that it is a big increase and should be challenged.

Remember these are estimates though. Don't know about you, but last year's charges were ?300 over estimated and I now have that in credit with Lewisham.

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Gep


Posts: 60
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #10
28-03-2009 02:17 PM

I believe the section 20 notice is for extra-ordinary works that cost more than ?250. For example now they have decided to replace doors and entry phone and that will cost each leaseholder in my block ?2000 which have nothing to do with the Service Charge.

What they have done with the Service Charge is to increase each of the ordinary items in particular External Areas maintenance (+170%) and Management Charges (+78%).

Jalapeno you are a lucky man: for me it has always been the other way. The actual bill is always higher than the estimated one.

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Happysnapper


Posts: 93
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #11
28-03-2009 03:50 PM

Hi there

I'm dreading my service charge this year (also am a leaseholder in a block managed by Lewisham Homes). I'm already going to complain about last years efforts. We supposed to have our lifts cleaned every day (which doesn't happen) and even when it does it's a really half-a***d job (especially when some lovely person decides to use it as a urinal on a regular basis).

Not only that but we've just had the block repainted. It was going to come to ?500 per flat, but they 'just discovered' that there is some serious concrete infrastructure that needs to be sorted out. And guess what? We can all ad ?2,770 to our initial bill of ?500...

If I'm not mistaken we're also waiting to have the lift maintenance carried out. No holidays for me for the next couple of years then...

I have already complained once and been fobbed off. My next plan is to chat to all the other residents and the CAB because I feel Lewisham Homes should be doing an annual building inspection, and if they have done it properly which they obviously didn't) then they would have picked up this concrete problem a long time ago and it wouldn't have been so expensive to fix.

I am fuming. Apologies for the rant.

Cursing

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #12
28-03-2009 04:46 PM

Whilst understanding your annoyance surely LBC are only acting like most other freeholders of blocks of flats.
If you have recently purchased surely your surveyor noticed the problem(s).
I am not sure it would be considered reasnoble to ask a freeholder to make an annual check of the infrastructure. Do not forget the check itself would cost a great deal of money which would be charged back to you pro rata.
I do wish you all the best in sorting this out.

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Gep


Posts: 60
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #13
29-03-2009 04:32 PM

I totally understand Happysnapper. Lewisham Homes should be more careful before spending our money, especially in these troubles times.

For 2 doors and a new entry phone system they spent over 11 thousand pound. For a similar job my sister in her house spent 1/3 of that... but obviously she didn't have 8% Consultation Fees, 10% Management Charges, etc. etc.

Lewisham Homes is only worried about being within the Legal Terms (i.e. section 20 notification and all that), but I think they should also try to get some value for money!

I really wish you all the best trying to involve the other residents in your block. I tried and the answer was "most of the resident in this block are council tenants so we don't care how much Lewisham Homes spends because we will not have to pay anything anyway".

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #14
29-03-2009 04:56 PM

Yes Gep I expect LBC are subsidising the council tennants ( which they have to pay ) from the private tennants.

You need all the facts and figures I would think. Get your 3 Councillors on board.

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eddy


Posts: 39
Joined: Jul 2008
Post: #15
29-03-2009 09:28 PM

this seems a bit much when people are loosing their jobs.

my mum lives under phoenix housing now use to be lewisham till it was sold, her service charge had doubled, 100% rise in a year.

phonix want ?850 out of her this year which is way over the top for a 1 bed room flat in a small block of 5 flats.

on top of yet another council tax rise and increase in day to day bills i just can't see how people are expected to cope.

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #16
30-03-2009 07:03 AM

Eddy I agree increases should be reasnoble and reasons documented.

Could be the age of some of the council blocks means lots of maintenance required. I really do not know.

I know the same for Private Landlords , however you know in that case all other leaseholders have to pay.

As I said contact your 3 Councillors.

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Gep


Posts: 60
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #17
31-03-2009 11:38 AM

I have emailed Mr. Paschoud, but I didn't get any reply.
Is it one of those person who expects a paper letter sent by post?
Or maybe it's better to ring him up?
Did anybody contacted him in the past? Is it useful or just a waste of time? Sorry, but I've become really cynical whenever it's something to do with the Council.

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #18
31-03-2009 11:47 AM

I have contacted Susan Wise , Alan Till and John in the past by e mail and they have always been very helpfull and friendly. E mail addresses in Sydenham and Forest Hill Life which came through my door yesterday.

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #19
31-03-2009 11:48 AM

I have contacted Susan Wise , Alan Till and John in the past by e mail and they have always been very helpfull and friendly. E mail addresses in Sydenham and Forest Hill Life which came through my door yesterday.

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Just


Posts: 15
Joined: Mar 2009
Post: #20
31-03-2009 06:56 PM

Just llike Council tax your leasehold chargers are arbitrary and usually unjustified. If you dont want to be smoked out of your own home with charges that do not fall in line with day to day reality then you need to ask more fundemental questions. Being docile is not the answer for anybody if you want fair treatment. The 500 hundred you pay seems outrageous in itself. If you break down your charges and multiply these amounts by the other tenanted flats you will find there can be no justification for these charges whatsoever. Lewisham Homes get fed rheotoric by the Council to which to feed you with. Speak to the other Leaseholders in your area. Use human contact and not the internet. Your situation is likened to a piece on a monopoly board. What amount you are charged the year next will depend on the dice. We are in a recession. Wages and jobs are being held back or reduced while Councils seem to invent new ways to create new poverty. Its really up to you.

Good luck

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