Exasperated leaseholders demand more transparency from Camden Council on housing bills

Camden Town Hall.

Fed-up leaseholders are urging housing bosses to be quicker about giving them details of bills they face.

Leaseholders own their homes on council estates and have to pay service charges and costs for caretaking.

They are also asked to contribute to the price of works such as re-roofing their homes.

However attendees at the Camden Leaseholders Forum (28 September) said they were unhappy as they felt they had to chase the council for a breakdown of costs or the amount they should pay.

Karen Dawson said she follows up calls and emails with the council to get things done of her estate, such as lighting and repairs.

She said: “We need to be a a bit more Greta Thunberg with Camden Council and hold them accountable.”

One leaseholder of 20 years’ standing said it used to be possible to query charges and sometimes get then reduced, but not any longer.

“It’s been made very clear to you that people are not happy with the way you make up our bills, the way you present our bills,” they told the council.

A resident of the Tybalds estate said the estimate for caretaking was £4,500 last year and the eventual bill was £9,000, whilst this year’s estimate has dropped to £4,000.

Carolyn Morgan said she has been chasing a breakdown of costs for major work on her estate in Kentish Town for six months, as well as when the council will want the money, but has not yet heard back.  She said the work is estimated to cost £30,000.

“I just get a brick wall,” she said. “These are substantial sums of money. I have talked to lots of leaseholders in a similar situation.”

She added: “I am being asked to pay for a service but I am not getting a breakdown of what’s being asked. I do not believe I’m alone.

“I think there’s room to improve communication between the council and the leaseholders.”

The work, which was completed in March, included roof replacement, external decorations, and repointing.

Mike Edmunds, Camden’s head of leaseholder services, said the council offers payment plans and a hardship fund for people struggling to pay.

Forum vice chair Isabella Luger said she feared some residents who cannot afford the costs may be forced to sell up and move elsewhere.

Edmunds said the council could look again at the way it details costs for work and the way service charge information is presented.

“There is a lot of information there on the database service charges,” he explained. “We do need to know what bits of information you want on the service charges.

“We’ve made a lot of changes on the Camden account and we’ve got changes to do other things.”

He said the breakdown shows every repair and heating cost.

“There is a very detailed breakdown,” he added.

He said his team is holding workshops with the Contact Camden call centre to help understand leaseholders’ concerns.

1 Comment

  1. Norman Speight on Tuesday 14 March 2023 at 12:48 pm

    12 months ago (2022) I received my ‘Services Charge) which I paid infull immedietly. Then found I’d been invoiced for a’ Door Entry System’ (which no one has on my estate. Was told this would be corrected in September (never was). It’s now 2023.and a £3377 bill has arrived. Will I be still ‘fobbed off’? Or will I again be paying towards Camden civil servants expenses. Resident complaints are still being ignored to death, mine, at 88 years old seemingly joining the queue!

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