4th October 2020 at 21:09 #5611GRParticipant
Because of Covid-19 Camden Council Leaseholder Services will finally provide the supporting documents for the service charges in electronic format, instead of asking leaseholders to come to Camden Council’s offices in person and make hundreds of copies.
I strongly recommend to request the supporting documents for the recently issued 2019/2020 service charge bills from Leaseholder Services and to check it carefully. Every year over the past 6 years, without fail, Camden Council has charged me and fellow leaseholders erroneous and unjustifiable charges.
For the 2018/2019 service charge bill alone leaseholders in my development were charged £8,355 for the repair of a burst water pipe, even though the repair was covered by insurance. Electricity for the communal hot water and heating system was incorrectly charged at £4,114 instead of the correct amount of £2,240. An unjustifiable charge of £5,465 was billed for the Mobile Security Patrol.
Repeatedly repair costs have been charged even though the work was not carried out properly or the cost was covered by defects liability/warranty or insurance. In 2016/2017 the property management charge included items such as the costs of a hall hire of a charity. Without a detailed audit, who knows how many other charges are routinely buried in the service charge bills, given the persistent incompetence and wilful negligence.
Leaseholder associations have the right to appoint an auditor for a detailed management audit of all accounts with on-site inspections. The audit report can then be used as evidence at the First-tier Tribunal.
Has any Camden leaseholder association performed a management audit recently and can give advice/recommend an auditor?
Thanks.5th October 2020 at 10:03 #5612MsMoParticipant
I was unaware of the management audit, thank you for the information about the electronic supporting documents though as I have had major battles with Camden over the years about erroneous ‘repair’ works. They have tried to charge our block for amoungst other things :-
1. Creation of a turning circle when there is no land around our block to build one.
2. Removal of pigeon dropping from the lift shaft when we don’t have a lift in the block.
3. Mobile Security – That was a big one, they lumped our estate (2 small blocks of 8 flats each) with a larger one (6 blocks with at least 20 flats a block) then they just divided by the number of blocks. After escalating my complaint I managed to get them to revise their calculation to divide the cost by the number of flats rather that blocks.
I have complained so much they have made me a key leaseholder so I get quarterly updates about the repairs carried out and can keep on top of it.
Luckily I have no battle over service charges this year but I do have to tackle them over an extortionate major works bill.5th October 2020 at 10:28 #5613camdentownieParticipant
This a really good idea. If you have a minute can you let me know where do we log in to download the documents? It has been an organised shambles for years with, as you say, substandard work charged for and never corrected and work not completed at all. When I fought the council on it for three years I got nowhere as it consistently supplied documents for a completely different block, dragged its heels and just made the whole thing too stressful to continue. I paid before court proceedings took place but the lift it installed is still on the verge of dangerous. Is there a way of getting a quorum of leaseholders together to contribute to paying for an independent audit each year? I would be very keen to proceed with this. I feel the council has been operating with a complete lack for transparency for too long now. But at least it has a lovely HQ now next door to Google, nice neighbourhood if you can afford it!5th October 2020 at 21:10 #5614GRParticipant
The supporting documents for the service charge bill are not available online. You would need to request them from Leaseholder Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) quoting your property reference number and simply stating that in line with your rights as a leaseholder (Section 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) you wish to inspect all documents relating to your service charges. It was confirmed to me that due to Covid-19 an electronic version of the inspection file would be made available.
“Is there a way of getting a quorum of leaseholders together to contribute to paying for an independent audit each year?”
The requirement is two-thirds of all qualifying tenants in buildings of three or more dwellings, or a recognised tenants’ association.
To get an independent audit on behalf of all 8,000 Camden leaseholders, at least on the management charge and all these intransparent long term borough-wide contracts, might prove more tricky.
Has maybe the Forum Committee looked into that before?
Perhaps funding could be through one of those crowd funding platforms. If the funding target is hit, then the management audit goes ahead, otherwise the funds are returned to leaseholders. Just £5 per leaseholder would go a long way with over 8,000 leaseholders in the Borough (even if not all leaseholders contribute), and the accounts would get properly scrutinised.5th October 2020 at 22:14 #5615camdentownieParticipant
Thanks loads GR. That is v useful information indeed.6th October 2020 at 07:54 #5616NW5 leaseholderParticipant
This is really helpful information, thank you for sharing. I would be happy to contribute to a cloud-funding arrangement if it helps to facilitate a thorough independent audit. That said, I’m perplexed why it should be the responsibility of the ‘customer’ to make these arrangements.
Does this ongoing situation not suggest a lack of robust financial governance and oversight within the Leaseholder Services team, and why is someone not being held accountable and responsible for this at Camden? If there is a systemic problem with providing a reliable and accurate invoicing system than surely Camden should be funding external auditors to help them identity and correct these accounting and invoicing problems. It is very concerning that Camden are sending out invoices to leaseholders knowing they are ‘likely’ to the incorrect. I can’t think of any other organisation/industry where this type of practice would be deemed acceptable.
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