1 August 2011

Leaseholder charging review

Below is a news release from Southwark Labour which gives some details of a forthcoming review of leaseholder charging in the borough. My involvement comes from chairing the Council's Housing Scrutiny Committee. Leaseholders living in Peckham Rye may want to keep an eye on this. I'll post further updates as the review progresses.

The original release is here (with a pic of me looking even more grumpy than usual!)

Leaseholder charging review announced

The Labour Chair of Southwark’s Housing Scrutiny Committee has announced a review of leaseholder charging in the borough. The review will look into all aspects of leaseholder service charges - including customer service to leaseholders and the accuracy of billing arrangements – as well as charges for communal repairs and major works.

The review will also look at the progress being made in implementing the recommendations of the Grant Thornton audit of leaseholder service charges that was published in September 2009.

Southwark Council has responsibility for over 12,000 leasehold properties, 3,200 freehold properties and 40,000 tenants. Average leaseholder service charges in Southwark are: £1,130. Labour Councillors believe that efficiently administered leaseholder charges will benefit tenants and leaseholders alike – ensuring that money is not wasted on tribunal and court disputes.

Councillor Gavin Edwards, Chair of Southwark's Housing Scrutiny Committee said:

"We want to take a close look at leaseholder charging to see if improvements can be made. It’s in everybody’s interests for Southwark to have an accurate, fair and transparent system of charging leaseholders for the services they receive.

"Last year we showed what progress could be made when scrutiny and the cabinet work together to improve the repairs service. This year I hope we can do the same with leaseholder charging.”

The review comes at a key time for leaseholders – as Southwark’s Labour Cabinet announced last month its huge 5 year housing investment programme, leaseholders will be eager to know that any charges they incur through improvements to estates are clearly explained and accurate first-time.

Councillor Ian Wingfield, Southwark Labour’s Cabinet Member for Housing said:

“I welcome this review whole-heartedly. We have a responsibility to get these charges right and any recommendations which help us to improve our leaseholder operations must be seen as a good thing.”

“We will not be defensive. Unlike the last Lib Dem administration we will work with scrutiny to make sure that Housing Services in Southwark work for residents, not against them.”

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