Gaisford Street – Major works charges

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum homepage Discussion Board Major Works + Estimates Gaisford Street – Major works charges

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  • #5617
    christopher2965187
    Participant

    Just been reading all the posts around how inept Camden Council are with the cost of works. I have a place on Gasiford Street, NE52EB and I’ve just been sent yet another demand of £4k on major works, when essentially all the did was paint the hallway and install 3 fire alarms. It’s a totally crazy amount but it seems so hard to challenge the spend with the council. They cleaned out the gutters but the scaffolding was up for 7 months, even though work carried out was for one week, so guess i am paying for 7 months of scaffolding too. Only back in 2016 they did more ‘major works’ and charged me just under £10k for this, so that’s £14k I’ve been charged in the last 4 years, its total madness, but how does anyone challenge this total incompetence. Please let me know if you are in the same boat or if you know how i can challenge this. Many thanks, Chris

    #5622
    AS121
    Participant

    Hey Chris,

    As you have read on this forum, there are lots of people in the same boat. I too received the dreaded FRA major works bill, with little evidence of work, but a sky-high bill.

    I did manage to get them to email me over a spreadsheet with a detailed breakdown of the costs, which helps to clarify what the actual scope of works was. But I can tell you that the material costs were 10x of what they are in stores.

    You can email Capital Services on CapitalServices@camden.gov.uk and Assignments Team on AssignmentsTeam@camden.gov.uk to request the detailed breakdown of costs in a spreadsheet, but don’t hold your breath, it will take months.

    Meanwhile, you can confirm you were notified about the intended works and the fees do not exceed the amount disclosed upfront. If they did, then you shouldn’t be held liable for the extra amount.

    You always have the option of taking this to a tribunal, but I have no idea what the success rate looks like. The freeholder is meant to not impose unreasonable costs to leaseholders, so if you feel you can be bothered and have a strong case, you could try.

    #5628
    Dips
    Participant

    Hi Chris ask the council to provide you with a mini bill . Totally understand what you’re say .
    I think a forum is useful but we should consider starting a whatsapp group .

    #5633
    Dips
    Participant

    This is exactly what I was saying to someone. With the buying power and budget the council have , surely there material costs should be far below you or I. How is that possible. ….

    #5639
    christopher2965187
    Participant

    I’m totally up for a whatsapp group. If there’s enough of us, we can employ an audit firm to really scrutinize the spend. As I said, I’ve paid £14k in the last 4 years, and extremely little to show for it, I just don’t know how to fight it without incurring lots of time and legal costs. Yes, I could get their spreadsheet, and no doubt it would add up to the total, but what we don’t know is if we have got value for money or competitive quotes etc. We need to fight this as one group. As Karl Marx once said, we need to move from potatoes in a sack to a sack of potatoes – there’s power in a sack, but if we all moaning as individuals we have no real power. Step 1 is getting everyone together into a group and agreeing a strategy to stop these persistent crazy charges !

    #5641
    Dips
    Participant

    This is what is difficult. Total adds up but it’s whether we are getting a fair deal . Some of the costs are totally unreasonable. 4K for painting and alarms . I know a couple of other people in the same position but they also feel helpless.
    If we can get everyone working together then we may get somewhere.
    If the cost of materials are much higher than normal obviously we should be able to question why . We should be able to get independent quote from a third party to compare whether what we are paying is fair.

    #5642
    Dips
    Participant

    Please email the Keir Starmer. His office have been really good . Fast efficient replies.

    #5644
    Abhis99
    Participant

    I agree Chris & Dips. I have 2 flats in camden and have paid approx £20k in major works. Would be more than happy to join forces to expose the scam that Camden seem to be running.

    One of the flats is on College place which has also had scaffolding up for almost a year and undoubtably will result in a large bill being received.

    #5645
    RamsayShort
    Participant

    I am currently in dispute with Camden over another major works bill, that is unfair, unjustified, way above what it should cost but more to the point something that must be covered by their own buildings insurance – it is do with subsidence investigations, which i never agreed to and insisted at the time must be covered by buildings insurance, and repair work that was never carried out. I will not pay, cannot even pay even if I could, and am willing to take them all the way to court or a tribunal if I have to, to show their ineptness (even if I lost). The way they conduct their business, the terrible wastage that they have when it comes to their terrible contractors who charge outrageous prices because they are the council, etc and so on, is unconscionable. The whole process is wrong and needs major reform. So feel free to get in touch to start a whatsapp group and examine legal options, if we go in together it could be far less costly. But at this point I’d rather give any money I have to a lawyer than the council.

    #5649
    Dips
    Participant

    Reading articles today regarding this problem . It seems to be same in a lot of other boroughs as well . There seems to nationwide problem but mainly in london. Sometimes the problem is that sometimes individual leaseholder won’t bother if the charges don’t effect them . But what they do in one block will eventually effect you too . Think it’s important to support each other. Spoke to a friend in muswell hill . Same problem. Council have charged him over £2000 to fit a fire door .
    I’ve been looking a doors today , 160/240 pounds . Then went onto checkatrade costing . Roughly tradesmen should charge 350 to hang the door . The maths don’t add up. I think we should all express our grievances as one , even if your block isn’t effected. I think getting an independent auditor would be great . A lot of times the cost are too much for one individual.
    Especially legal cost . Only stupid thing is that even if we win , we are expected to pay their costs . Ridiculous

    #5650
    Dips
    Participant

    Please also look at leasehold reform act via parliament publications 19th march 2019. Highlighting all the issues .
    Also strongly recommend local MP

    #5648
    KateB
    Participant

    Hi Everyone

    I have a small one bedroom flat in Gaisford Street. I’ve been hit with a major works bill of over £9000. They have just carried out the fire assessment so I have that joy to come.

    In the meantime re the bill I have received it I would make two
    major points at this stage :

    1) There is nowhere near enough transparency in the figures which Camden have provided. It is best practice as a Landlord to supply sufficient details to enable us to be confident that the figures presented to us are correct.

    In some instances they have even referred to charges for other properties together with repairs to the ceiling of the upstairs flat which still in Camden’s ownership so it points to a lack of care and detail in the preparation of these bills and creates mistrust.

    It also seems absurd that they have itemised minutiae to as little as sums of 20p but have then thrown in huge items of generic expenditure such as in their words “decs” totalling several thousands of pounds with no detail whatsoever.

    2) They are misinterpreting the Lease in applying rateable values for major works.

    It is clear from Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 in the Lease that there is a obvious distinction between the annual service charge which should be based on rateable value and building/major works. In the case of those items for which the Landlord’s expenses extend to the Building then it should be a fair and reasonable proportion of the costs attributable to the Premises. The Lease is unequivocal.

    It cannot be fair and reasonable that my small one bed flat contributes almost the same percentage to the major works as a four bedroom flat spanning two floors with an additional large two storey extension, French windows, a metal decking and staircase leading to a large exclusive garden and a large flat roof over the extension. It is simply and wholly inequitable.

    It seems highly suspicious that the remaining flats in our building are still council owned therefore it suits them to apply a percentage proportion (rateable value) of circa 30% of the total bill when I occupy such a small floor area compared with the whole.

    All in all shocking.

    #5654
    christopher2965187
    Participant

    ok, so what are the next steps ? Who has time to take the lead on this and set up a group and stop these crazy charges going forward. It seems there’s a number of us in the same boat. I would love to bring some action against the council for miss-use of funds and general over charging for everything over a number of years. I am now worried that next year or the year after there will be another ridiculous bill for more major works. I’m going to have to sell the flat if there’s anymore major works, I can’t keep paying out thousands of pounds a year to Camden Council for virtually no benefit.

    #5660
    Dips
    Participant

    It was time consuming and we should not be put in this position. I think it would be a good idea to talk with a councillor or arrange some sort of communication. There are so many people effected by this and the council and government should take heed.
    Looking at forums from other parts of London, same issues. The other thing is that when they are charging you £1000 to paint a door in your block, they are also paying these contractors £1000 of public funds for every other door in the block.
    But are the tenants aren’t paying they don’t say anything. Therefore when no one complains the quality of work goes down. If we didn’t have to have this charges , would we still complain?? Even when you know what’s happening. But this is effecting other services when money is not available because it’s been wasted.
    We should communicate this to Camden council and the MP.
    These issues aren’t new they have been going on for ages . Leaseholder have been forced out of their homes.
    I know someone that ended up selling because he got so fed up to these horrendous charges and having to fight them all the time.
    I understand by selling up he doesn’t have the problem but next owner will go through the same issues. Basically kicking the can down the road .

    #5666

    Hi,
    I have a 1 bedroom flat on the St Silas estate which is having a new heating system installed.
    I wont bore you with the detail of the last 6/7 years of alleged consultation but it seems that they are finally going ahead.
    The estimate for my flat is in the region of £23K and I can only imagine that the final cost will be more.
    The lack of transparency, honesty and professionalism from the council officers and contractors has been astounding.
    Despite requesting details of the rational for the decisions on what system was best suited and would provide best value we have only ever got vague responses with no substance.
    We still don’t know what shape the installation in our flats is going to take.
    I have been in regular touch with councillor Alison Kelly and she is willing to help but it has to be driven by us. I previously tried to contact the tenants and particularly reached out to fellow leaseholders in my block and the one next door as we have similar issues in relation to the options choose by Camden. I was contacted by 2 leaseholders but both have since sold and have or are moving on. The response was disappointing to say the least!
    Some years ago I contacted our MP he was not much interested in the issue and I guess he is now far to busy with other interest!
    I think a WhatsApp group might help we had one one previously but it petered out. I doubt Camden will help with information on other leaseholders to contact more than likely quoting Data Protection

    Jerome

    #5667
    Dips
    Participant

    Hi jermone,
    I’m sure so many other people have over the years sold up rather than go through all this . I can’t blame them . However let’s talk with leaseholder services and see if this would be possible. The leaseholder service have been helpful recently.
    But it is a question about getting people together. Hopefully they’ll take more notice .
    23k seems excessive. Someone had a similar bill from the council in Lambeth. They thought the cost was many times what it should be . The simple question is WHY is someone paying 460k for works costing 200k ?????

    #5733
    GiuliaNico
    Participant

    Hi!

    I am a bit late on this but we have the same issue at Camelot house. Major works estimate is extortionate and not specific to this estate There is no breakdown costs list whatsoever and they have no idea bout what works are going to do or when.
    We are struggling to sell our flat (we need to move as we had another kid and this one is too small) as every potential buyer is scared about this bill and about the uncertainty of what and when will happen.
    If there is a whatsapp group/joint action with MP/against council I am more than happy to know more about it and be involved

    thanks
    Giulia

    #5753
    christopher2965187
    Participant

    ok, lots of posts on this topic. I think we are all in the same boat, all being totally ripped off by the council with crazy high fees offering little or no value for money, but the question is how do we take this forward and take action against the council ? Without this, I fear these kind of charges will continue year after year. Lets start with a whatsapp group. Can everyone email me their mobile number to: Christopher2965187@hotmail.com
    Once I get your email with your number I can create a group. Perhaps we all need a meeting. Potentially we need to employ an audit firm to investigate the spending, and potentially a legal firm to take action. As I’ve said, I’ve paid circa £14k over 4 years on my place, scaffolding was up for a year before anyone even went to the building. Its got to the stage where I’m not tempted to sell the flat just to get out of this crap !

    #5754
    CarolynM
    Participant

    Slightly different type of major works, but I have a dispute with Camden and I raised an online complaint via their website which they have now upheld and reversed a rather perverse decision. I have had some success contacting Susanne Afra, new head of capital services. I haven’t yet had a demand on fire works but will contact you Christopher so I can support your efforts.

    #5756
    AnnFor
    Participant

    I have a flat on the Silas Estate and have been in touch with Camden several times about the high estimates for renewing the heating system. I have heard that costs shouldn’t far exceed what the cost the leaseholder to do privately – whereas the estimate for my flat is over 20K. I then went on online and noticed a further list of ‘major works’ under the section headed ‘Property Details’ (under Major works it only listed the heating, under Property Details the total came to about 27K per unit.
    I made a complaint about lack of communication several months ago – and have not had a response! I phoned up Leaseholder services and it was suggested I could go to Tribunal….
    I am also concerned that the new heating system will be out of date -it has been discussed for so many years and in the meantime technology and environmental considerations have changed.
    I would be up for group effort.

    #5755
    imogenisabelle
    Participant

    I am in a similar situation to Jerome (St Silas Estate heating works) and feeling completely overwhelmed in the face of such an enormous bill, but also so powerless. Trying to communicate with Camden is nigh on impossible and even if I request a further itemised breakdown of the estimated costs, what will I then do with that information? Christopher, I will send you an email now.

    #5761
    Jay83
    Participant

    Hi All,

    I am hoping to complete on my purchase pretty soon. Just wanted to ask if there is an option to disconnect from the communal heating system at st silas and have your own heating hot water installed. As this will be significantly cheaper than paying £23k

    #5763
    AnnFor
    Participant

    Hi I asked about opting out of the heating system and was told one couldn’t. May be worth another try.

    #5764
    imogenisabelle
    Participant

    Hi Jay,
    Pretty sure that won’t be possible. Apart from not knowing whether or how it would be physically possible without using the same communal boiler (they are having to dig up the street for new underground piping and providing new piping to each flat – you would presumably still need to use that piping so you would be part of that work – we’re not just paying for interior work).
    But crucially, as the freeholder, supply of heating and hot water comes under their obligations in the lease – and that will create huge problems for the next leaseholder of your flat, and for Camden then.

    #5765
    AnnFor
    Participant

    Gas is in each flat anyway.I was told I could put in my own boiler system but would still have to pay the communal installation costs and running costs.

    #5770
    Jay83
    Participant

    I do know of some people that have had their communal supplies disconnected and have their own hot water and heating system, which is easier and less costly to maintain. But the problem is that they still charge the leaseholder for a service which is no longer in use by them. If the properties have their own gas supplies then it is possible to install a full central heating and hot water system in these properties. I am a heating engineer

    #5794
    bourneestate
    Participant

    Leaseholders at Bourne Estate are getting bills exceeding £15k for improvements/major works. Tribunal action likely. Happy to connect with others who plan the same.

    Bourne Estate Leaseholders’ Group
    https://beleaseholders.8b.io

    #5793
    livallen
    Participant

    Hi All

    I am a resident of Silas Estate, just moved in, and also have just got a bill for over £20,000 for major works. Terrifying.
    I also note what you say Ann about the ‘property details’ section on the Camden site. It is not at al clear if this is connected or separate. I will try to contact the Council to get some clarity, but I am not hopeful from what everyone has said.

    #5796
    imogenisabelle
    Participant

    Hi Liv, could you post again if you get anywhere with ascertaining how the costs under ‘Property Details’ fit into all of this? Or send me a message. Thank you.

    #5797
    camdentownie
    Participant

    With all that is going on in Liverpool and the police probe into building and development contracts in the city, we must have an independent survey of what is going on in Camden. I’ve tried to fight costs before, but as everyone has said, if it is just lone voices the council can either throw you a bone or just dig in its heels. I have had itemised accounts in the past, which of course add up but are astronomical in their costs. I was also sent the wrong one at one point for a block that I didn’t live in. Looked like a cut and paste job with the addresses changed. If all the work done was gold standard then the prices could maybe, somehow be justified, but in my experience that is not the case. I would also like to know exactly what the Council’s insurance does cover. If we are really serious I would rather pay into a fund for auditors than give any more to the Council.

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