Welcome to this LVT update which focuses on the appointment system for viewing Camden Council’s evidence for the LVT management charge case.
If you have already registered your interest in the case with Camden Council, Lauran Bush of Camden Council has probably emailed asking you for your preferred appointment slot to view Camden’s evidence in regards to this case (within the window of 13th August to 27th September, as set by the LVT). If you have not already received an email, we recommend that you contact her again now. Lauren’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
We suggest leaseholders spread out their sessions and don’t all try and view the information at the same time. Each leaseholder can then view the information and, should they wish, feed what they discover back to other leaseholders, for example through our website (see below) – the aim being that we don’t all just section at “Section A” and no one gets past “Section D” (for example!).
Pick a time to suit yourself; slots so far have tended to be 4 hours or 5 hours in length, some running from 12pm to 4pm and others from 2pm to 7pm. Camden Council have told us that they will endeavour to be flexible and amenable so that all those that want have any opportunity to inspect the information which will be accessible on laptop computers.
If you want to “buddy up” with someone to view the documents on a laptop together, do feel free to post requests at https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/discussion-board/ [editor’s note: old Discussion Board posts were not migrated when we changed sites in 2015] to see who else is around. TIP: For the above link, the most recently updated discussion is listed at the top of the page with the older discussions towards the bottom (the “updated” date is in the last column).
If you know of friends who are well-versed with figures or accountants, do feel free to bring them along with you (just ensure that you let Lauran Bush know how many people you will be bringing). Apparently there will be a Camden Council accountant on hand to facilitate, but we would obviously rather have independent eyes if possible.
We understand that Camden Council wish to be “reasonable” over this particular issue and will issue follow up appointments if requested (or first appointments, to those that missed the original deadline). If you would like an(other) appointment ideally between 13th August and 27th< September email email@example.com your request; we assured (but cannot guarantee!) that there will flexibility around the closing date so if there are problems, let us know.
Camden Council’s initial position was that information can be printed out at 10p a sheet. We have pressed Camden Council allow memory sticks, so that information can be taken in as near an original form as possible (e.g. XLS files) to reduce the likelihood of formatting issues, data corruption or merely photocopying errors. We expect to hear back from this before 13th August and will let you know.
Discussing the information
Do feel free to discuss what you discover at https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/discussion-board/ [editor’s note: old Discussion Board posts were not migrated when we changed sites in 2015] which is a discussion board specifically set up for this purpose. The aim is to share whatever information that we can find, to build on each other’s discoveries (and avoid reinventing the wheel). The downside is that the discussion boards are in the public domain (and viewable to individuals from Camden Council), but there is no practical way around this for such a discussion.
If you would prefer to make suggestions privately please email firstname.lastname@example.org, but we cannot guarantee to reply to every email.
As well as the points of law that various leaseholders have raised and made us aware of, the Leaseholders’ Forum are currently of the opinion that evidence that we get about individual mistakes/overcharging that are documented in the information provided will benefit our case; these will help prove that Camden Council aren’t justified in increasing the management charge in the way that they wish. If you see any evidence of this then please make the Leaseholders’ Forum aware of these errors by posting in the discussion board (particularly to the post entitled: “LVT Case: Evidence”) or email email@example.com.
But, do remember what the LVT has already said “It is important to re-iterate that the case is not about the cost of the other services that the council provides, such as gardening, cleaning or repairs. It is also not about the standard or quality of the services provided by the council in the current year, because the actual costs of those services will not be known until after the hearing of the application. If appropriate, those issues can be considered by another tribunal at a future date”. The case is about projected management costs, not the costs or quality of the services themselves.
There is a body of opinion that also recommends seeing major works data as well as service charge data, as the principles involved in the case can be identified as covering major works too. Consequently any errors in charges for major works are also important.
Here is what the Leaseholders’ Forum are doing:
We have asked to see the documents on the first day that they are released, 13th August. We will be inspecting the information and then report back, hopefully the same evening, to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/discussion-board/ in a post probably entitled “LVT Case: 1st Day Report”. [editor’s note: old Discussion Board posts were not migrated when we changed sites in 2015]
With this information we feel that we might be able to offer an opinion on where following leaseholders can best place their efforts when inspecting the documentation themselves (in the same way as indicated in “Discussing the information”, above).
There is no guarantee that any of this will be useful and that we will understand the information in a meaningful way, but we should all try our best.
That’s it for now!
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk
If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up. You can also adjust your own preferences by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.
The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all the leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.