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Lewisham Homes and Service Charges
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Lewisham Homes Victim


Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #61
23-04-2009 07:31 PM

Hi - just 19 !

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Just


Posts: 15
Joined: Mar 2009
Post: #62
25-04-2009 02:42 PM

LHV

look at your lease and view your proportion of the work you are liable for. Try to look at the costs in terms of the whole amount charged and not just your own. 19 flats at the amount you quoted is just under 300,000 grand. Next view documentation from the Council by booking an appointment (invoices,receipts, memos e.t.c. Do you have an idea of who LH used to do the work? Get all the documentation and from there we can go further with the scrutiny. The Section 20 notice needs to be looked at and other features of the steps leading up to the work.

If you had scaffolding up for 10 weeks and the work took only 5 weeks but you were charged for the 10 weeks then this is something to contend.


[size=x-small]Leaseholder loans to pay for repairs[/size]

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 | By Emily Rogers

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Regulations have been laid before Parliament to enable social landlords to ease the burden of service charges for leaseholders though equity loans.

The regulations allow councils and housing associations to offer interest-free loans to their leaseholders, or to buy shares in their flats, to help them manage charges for repairs, maintenance and improvements.

Concerns have been raised in recent years about the size of the bills faced by leaseholders, particularly in London.

The regulations would enact powers introduced in last year?s Housing and Regeneration Act. The government plans to consult over the next few weeks on whether the fees for such loans should be capped, to encourage leaseholders to take up the offer.
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Jim Paton | Thu, 19 Mar 2009 02:36 GMT

A rarely mentioned effect of the over-hyped "decent homes" programme is the huge, often unaffordable, bills which result for leaseholders in the case of external works. Insult is added to injury by the frequently overpriced, tatty, 5th rate work produced, some of it never properly completed and some of it already falling apart.

I'm glad I'm a weekly periodic tenant rather than a long tenant (or leaseholder), but I don't join in the smug chorus of "Ha! Serves 'em right". (So much for 'mixed communities', eh?). The fact is that the merely greedy who went for the right to buy have cashed in and gone years ago, leaving:-

(a) The gullible who took the propaganda at face value and are now, in many cases, in serious trouble and at risk of losing their homes. These people are victims of the last 20-odd years of housing policy, not co-conspirators.

(b) The innocent who bought flats on council estates from the cashers-in because they were cheap, all they could afford, and the only way they had of housing themselves.

Many of these people are far from well off, some have lost jobs or otherwise find themselves in much worse circumstances than they were a few years ago.

A better way to help would be to offer the option of reverting to Secure Tenancies. And yes, this should be offered to all, including those who were not Secure Tenants in the first place. Of course, it would make sense only in the context of a huge emergency programme of building new social housing, preferably by councils.

I doubt we'll see either, though. All we'll get is a bit of pre-election tokenism.

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sharon | Thu, 19 Mar 2009 09:55 GMT

Many people bought their own council homes without being made aware that due to the age and state of the stucture of the developments, they would be hit with massive repair bills at a later stage. Providing loans for leaseholders to pay these exhorbitant bills without them even knowing how these quotes were reached will still leave them with somewhat questionable and cetainly massive debts.
Sharon
Leasehold Life

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Lewisham Homes Victim


Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #63
25-04-2009 06:50 PM

Thank you Just - I know that these avenues can be approached but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and I think that is by design. However, I will keep on trying - I will try to get some advice without incurring high costs as I could only be adding more to what I am being held to account for. If I could afford it, I would like to take this to the highest court in the land as it is having a dreadful effect on some people especially the elderly who in some cases I hear are becoming ill with worry.

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Just


Posts: 15
Joined: Mar 2009
Post: #64
26-04-2009 08:24 PM

Hi LHV

This is one of the best sites for info I think. Very clear to understand and methodical. LHV you have to help the others in your block. The elder people will not know how to use the PC so its up to you.


jj

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crossfields


Posts: 10
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #65
17-05-2009 04:02 PM

Can anyone tell me why us Lewisham Homes lot have to pay ?38 a year for Anti-social behaviour when it is already included in Council Tax? Where can I find details that is paid for already in Council Tax?

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sydenham74


Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #66
20-05-2009 01:05 PM

not sure about the anti social behaviour charge, seems like many of these charges there's some duplication with council tax.

I've queried the sweeping charge with Leaseholder services, somebody should be replying to me within the next couple of weeks. To me it's about paying a fair charge for a fair service, as I've not seen a single sweeper on the roads or pavements around the estate in over 2 years since I lived there, I feel it needs justifiying as to why i should pay for it.

I've told them that I won't be changing my standing order date to the 19th of the month from the 25th (previous years date). I'm not changing it, it's inconvenient for me to pay on the 19th and there's been no reason given for the change so I can see no reason why I should inconvenience myself. Why they can't sort out a direct debit for this function instead of SO is a little mystifiying to me as well, Lewisham take my council tax by DD, but I have to go through the admin of setting up a new SO every year for my service charges, it irritates.

I did note that in the reply I recieved to my email which included the above issues the responder managed to ignore the issue that my charges have increased by 40% in 2 years and give no justification for the increase (basing this on my last actual charges which are not estimates 07/08, 08/09 is still an estimate).

Like many other leaseholders I'm not happy with the escalating charges.

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crossfields


Posts: 10
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #67
20-05-2009 04:18 PM

Sydenham, you don't want a Direct Debit! Then they'll be able to take what they like when they like. More by mistake than design I didn't put a time limit on my SO so it didn't stop after 10 months and I am still paying out the same as last year, ie ?32 instead of the new charge of ?76.

All the new charges are stealth taxes. We are told tenants are paying for them in their rent. If you add these and the cost of maintaining the building to tenants' service charges it would mean that 30% of their rent was going to service charges on top of the charges they already pay which are about 14% of their rent on top of their rent.

Have you written an official Complaint yet? You'll get back a load of waffle if you do, but it's worth it.

Bottom line is Adam Barrett reported to the LH board in January that new charges wouldn't be more than ?137, and leaseholders wouldn't be paying more than ?114 than they were last year. Since with the addition of new charges the management fee alone amounts to ?194, he is quite patently a liar.

(You can find the Board's minutes on the LH website)...Also see the Audit Commission's mock inspection report of Nov 08: http://tinyurl.com/AuditComLewHomes

Add on sweeping (which tenants don't pay) which now comes under the heading "Council Provided Services to Outdoor Maintenance" so that it doesn't fall under the heading "Caretaking" or "Grounds Maintenance" (in which tenants now have to pay the same as leaseholders) and you'll see another stealth tax.

And as you say, very little to show for it.

DON'T PAY. Tell your councillors. Tell your MP. Tell your neighbours...

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #68
20-05-2009 04:29 PM

I am not don't pay is good advise. I agree with other comments.
Surely if you simply do not pay could be liable to eviction?

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crossfields


Posts: 10
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #69
20-05-2009 04:39 PM

You can pay ?10 for ground rent and ?40 for insurance (a legal requirement), until it is explained to you why these charges have been made and some effort has been made to rectify the issues. It was suggested by one of our TRA to write separate cheques for each so that they know what you are choosing to pay for.

Or pay ?10 a month. Or pay the same as last year. Or pay your charge minus the new charges. Up to you.

Even if you don't pay it is likely they will just add what you owe onto next year's bill.
They are extremely bad at chasing up bad debt. They are owed ?3m by tenants and ?4.7m by leaseholders (the latter mostly in inability to pay unexpected & extortionate major works charges).

Can I just check that you guys in SE23 and thereabouts are paying the same as us for Management charges, eg ?140 + ?38 ASB, ?12 Resident Involvement, ?4 Customer Services?

The extra sweeping charge will probably be variable - but I am contesting the different amounts that each block pays on our estate. Every block pays something different for Caretaking, Grounds Maintenance, Sweeping, Lighting even though they're getting exactly the same service. Smaller blocks often end up paying more.

Lewisham Homes' list of crimes is never ending...

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crossfields


Posts: 10
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #70
20-05-2009 05:48 PM

I have just written the Lewisham Homes Board. The public are allowed to table questions to the board to be raised at Board Meetings. Questions must be submitted 7 days before the meeting (next meeting 28th May). Tomorrow is the deadline for emailed questions. Write to nicola.clarke@lewishamhomes.org.uk

Here are my questions (a couple of which you may want to ask too):

Dear Nicola,

Please table these questions to the Lewisham Homes' Board Meeting on 28th May 2009:


Q1. Re: Leaseholders Service Charges - Management Charge
Adam Barrett reported to the Board in January 2009 that the outcome of a ?consultation? with tenants and leaseholders at the December 2008 Area Panel Meeting means that the new Flat Rate Management Charge for Leaseholders would be ?137 pa. The maximum level of the Leasehold Service Charge increase would be capped at ?2.20p/w (?114 pa). An example was given that showed an increase of 14%.

There is no reference in the March 2009 Board minutes to increasing this charge to ?140 and adding ?54 of other charges, making the total ?194 pa. This has resulted in an average increase of 40% in total charges.

Were the Board aware that these extra charges would be introduced?


Q2. Re: Leaseholders Service Charges - new Sweeping Charge
Tenants' service charges were reviewed so that tenants will now be charged the same as leaseholders for Caretaking, Grounds Maintenance and Communal Lighting. We are told that "previously sweeping and caretaking charges were combined but this year's service charge bill shows them as separate items providing greater transparency for leaseholders".

However, in order to avoid charging tenants extra for sweeping in either their Caretaking charge or their Grounds Maintenance charge, a new umbrella heading has been invented ("Council Provided Services to External Areas") under which Sweeping is listed along with Grounds Maintenance.

So tenants are not charged for Sweeping in either their Caretaking Charge or the Grounds Maintenance charge. The Sweeping charge to Leaseholders, added to Grounds Maintenance under the new heading, results in an average 225% increase on last year's charges for Grounds Maintenance and an almost 300% difference on what tenants will pay.

Were the Board aware of this anomaly and would they not deem it a stealth tax?


Q4. Re: Leaseholders Service Charges - Antisocial Behaviour
We are told that this charge is for work that is carried out by you "as part of managing buildings and estates, and this cost is not covered by council tax. The work will include for example where lumber or rubbish is left in communal areas, noise nuisance, or working to prevent and curtail other behaviour which has an adverse impact on residents".

However, lumber removal is included in caretaking duties, noise nuisance is already dealt with by the Council's environment team, and the police deal with emergencies. The Council runs an ASB service which is for the benefit of all Lewisham citizens and is paid for through Council Tax. As Council Tax payers, we are paying for this but cannot access it because we have to go through the Lewisham Homes' service. So we are paying extra because we live on an estate.

How is this charge justified, where is the Council Tax rebate, and is the flat rate of ?38pa applicable across the borough, ie the same for all Lewisham Homes' leaseholders regardless of demands on the service, or are peaceful and law-abiding estates likely to pay less in Actual Charges?


Q5. Re: Leaseholders Service Charges: Tenants & Leaseholders
We are told that all the extra charges that leaseholders have to pay that do not appear as service charges on tenants' statements are included in their rent.

If maintenance of their building (Repairs & Technical Services), Sweeping, Management, Anti-social Behaviour, Customer Service, plus the difference between what tenants pay to the Tenant's Fund and what leaseholders are charged for Resident Involvement, minus the fee you charge tenants to manage their water rates, were all paid for in their rent, it would amount to around 30% of their total rent, whilst their statements show that their service charges are only around 14% of their total rent.

Isn't this yet another example of Lewisham Homes' failure in accountability and transparency?

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