Getting overcharged by local authority for roof repair

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    Getting overcharged by local authority for roof repair

    Hello everybody,

    Just wanted to see if anybody can help as I feel like somebody is really trying to pull a fast one. Couple of years a go I get a letter saying that the LA was going to resurface the roof. I was please as my BTL is on the top floor and it's leaked a few times. But then we get the estimate - it equated to around £400 per sqm for the roof alone - so scaffolding, removal of old roof and a 6k management fee for the local authority (even though there are only 11 flats in the block) are all extra! I was looking at a 10k bill that needed to be paid within 4 years.

    Straight away I got in touch with "observations" and protested that it's well over the odds - they took forever to get back to me and they jsut went ahead and did it. I Asked for materials vs labour costs and they said they didn't know as it wasn't in the quote. After a while I got a breakdown of costs for each par tof the job - not materials vs labour costs which still seemed high. Things like "skylights: 1400 each" - to which I say that there are no skylights, to which they say "it's an access hatch", then I find out what model and it costs about £400.

    I check with them that I'm not going to be asked to start paying whilst all this goes on and they still can't give me an answer as to why it costs so much beyond "we got 2 quotes and this was the cheapest one". The fact that they're asking for 6k management fee on top of the monthly service charge suggests to me that they should know all this. So I write to my MP who gets in touch with them and says that the housing officer at the local authority will get in touch with me. about a year passes (it's now 2 years since the repairs) and I hear nothing back until now - a letter saying "it's come to our attention that you haven't paid anything - please get in touch to arrange payment" - still no explanation of how this job can possibly cost this much!

    Anybody else been in a similar predicament? Is there a tyoe of solicitor that can take this further? I just feel so ripped off by somebody who's getting the benefit of overcharging here.

    Thanks in advance!

    #2
    HI, leaseholders living in local authority blocks do seem to have the most eye-watering major works bills.

    Leaseholders can individually or better still collectively take the matter to First Tier Tribunal on (a) liability to pay and (b) reasonableness of the costs.

    LAS operate as you suggest - they don't seem to care too much what the costs amount to when refurbing their blocks. All done by 'public servants' (ironic title, that) on flexi-time who likely hate their job, their colleagues, and you most of all. More focused on internal power politics and restructuring.

    See here for a series of articles on leaseholders under LAs who took their LA to tribunal and won good reductions in major works fees...

    http://www.leaseholdknowledge.com/ca...can-fight-back

    Form an association with the other leaseholders in the building, or join a local existing leaseholder group in your area. Get reading, get angry, get justice.
    Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

    Comment


      #3
      Its well known that local council property was intended for the low income section of the community and the low rents charged to tenants did not cover the cost of property routine maintenance for the property. The local councils are hard up and so much of the maintenance has been skimped.

      So when you buy local Council property to use as a BTL , you should expect to contribute more for maintenance of the property in poor condition .

      its better business sense to sell and buy another flat in better condition and in a better location.

      Comment


        #4
        Agree.

        Never understood the sense of right to buy being available for social landlord blocks. Possibly the worse kind of leasehold tenure.

        In purpose-built leasehold blocks, the leases clearly apportion the service charges per unit because the total flats is a given from the start.

        RTB leaseholds are a moveable feast as new flats are bought by tenants. If you read social landlord leasehold forums, you find that the LA works out individual service charges based on rateable value for the whole estate against rateable value for the leasehold unit, and then pools service charge costs across multiple blocks in an estate.

        How the leaseholder in one block can find out 'transparently' for sure what they are being charged for, and why, is a mystery to me.

        The maintenance and refurbishment costs of LA blocks are off the normal scale even for leasehold. This is because of the way the contracts are run as well as the years of under-financed and under-prioritised repairs.

        When the private buyer buys into a high-rise and employs a surveyor, you have to wonder how much of the structure the surveyor accesses for the fee for one 'house buyer' survey. Who could afford to have a whole tower block surveyed before they bought one unit?

        As said above, people who couldn't afford to buy housing on the open market were pushed the chance to buy discounted leasehold of their council tenancy (now extending to HAs I think) and nobody it seems explained the maintenance cost implications.

        No sane home buyer expects to get maintenance bills of £20-£50K and more of the same again a few years down the line. Where do you get the money for this?

        A lot of leaseholders have, apparently, been caught up in the Grenfell tragedy and it was mentioned only today in parliament that they are being asked to provide details of their leases to get help. You might think government officials could easily look up the Land Registry for these victims at a few quid a query but seemingly not.

        But the main thing is offering RTB in social landlord blocks helped win political votes.

        Suppose ought to also mention to OP that going to tribunal might reduce the major works bill, as per articles linked above, but if the lease allows it the LA might charge their legal costs back? Could be an expensive solution. Would need to work with others and take legal advice. Or maybe start with posing a query direct to the LKP website folk?
        Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks for all the replies guys,

          I inherited the place from my Mum who bought it through RTB back in early 90s - I'm looking to sell at the end of the year as it's not viable. Definitely think get rid and get a freehold somewhere closer to home.

          Comment

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