See below for Camden Leaseholders’ Forum submission to the Pre-Trial Review, in reference to Case number LON/OOAG/LSC/2012/0791 (i.e. the proposed increase to the management fee element of service charges). The Pre-Trial Review itself will take place on Monday, 4th April at a venue to be announced.
1. The case papers refer to respondents being ‘the leaseholders of Camden’. The paper from Camden refers to it being the freeholder of the properties in question. But, in carrying out your instructions to consult, it has only written to type ‘B’ leaseholders. In fact, Camden itself only holds a lease on some of its properties, and there are freeholders of houses on estates paying service charges to Camden. It is not clear from the papers submitted to date who the respondents really are, and whether there are hidden sub-groups of ‘B’ leaseholders who fall to be treated differently, and how they might be handled in the light of any judgment the LVT might make. I submit that the LVT needs reassurance on this point before addressing the issues of the case.
2. It is unclear how Camden proposes to re-coup the costs of the case, and how they might be apportioned between holders of type ‘A’ and type ‘B’ leases. Whatever the LVT is asked to decide on this issue is potentially likely to impact on both types of lease. By failing to contact holders of ‘A’ leases, despite the LVT direction, Camden has deprived them of the opportunity of stating their case on this aspect of the decisions the LVT is likely to have to make in considering Section 20 (c). The LVT may therefore be statutorily obliged to see that they are advised of the case.
3. The timescales imposed on leaseholders have been quite unreasonably short; leaseholders reported receiving their letters from Camden dated 22nd January a week later leaving no real time to consider the issues if they were away or did not have a copy of the lease to hand. Many consulted our Forum on issues we could not respond to; others doubtless called the LVT.
4. The methodology implied in the statement could be construed as transferring costs not recovered from capped ‘A’ leaseholders to ‘B’ leaseholders. The result would effectively be a change to the terms of the type ‘B’ leases as being incompatible with the type ‘A’ leases. Again, if this issue is to be considered by the LVT, ‘A’ leaseholders have to be party to the case. It only arises from the actions of Camden in framing its leases in such a difficult way. I submit that the straightforward way out of this issue is to reject anything that arises from Camden’s current position that entails changing the type ‘B’ leases which it chose to issue.
5. The headings within the charges as set out are unclear, but Camden asserts that it has calculated the sums lost to it. That should mean that calculations showing their methodology exist now. There should be no need to delay producing them until the hearing, making it impossible for the respondents to examine them. I submit that the LVT should order their immediate production, and allow respondents time to group and consider them. If the LVT is inclined to continue with the case despite its hidden elemental purpose of changing the type ‘B’ leases, I suggest it would take at least three months to assemble leaseholders and commission the necessary examination. The alternative is to have 9,300 rushed and separate submissions, assuming it is accepted that both ‘A’ and ‘B’ leaseholders have interests in this case. I therefore request that the LVT provides my Forum with a full contact list for all Camden leaseholders and freeholders paying service charges, giving their property and contact addresses, in a format to allow automatic addressing of mail. We will do what we can (and what leaseholders agree we should) to provide a respondent case.