Paul Ginsberg

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  • You would have to use the formal complaints process. That only kicks in after a minimum of 10 working days from when you sent in your correspondence and there won’t be an immediate response. It’s just a hunch, but I suspect you’ve been particularly caught out as the annual estimates are being sent out now, which resolves in an increased workload within Leaseholders Services.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve not heard of any property sales failing to go through due to two weeks of delays from Camden. And nor do I think that Camden promise this information within 10 working days – they always say initial acknowledgement within 10 working days, but it depends on how complex the query is, as to how long it will take to resolve.

    Not so useful directly to you, but maybe to others: some estate agents recommend getting the Sale & Assignment Pack when you put your property on the market, to cut down on delays. You can then ask for a letter stating that there have been no material changes once the property is sold, speeding up the process.

    in reply to: Purchase of undemised Freehold areas #4422

    Hi JD,

    I find formal complaints a really good way of speeding up responses that otherwise wouldn’t be forthcoming. It won’t (ok, shouldn’t) affect the decision, and you can always ask for an explanation of how the figure was arrived at, possibly using FOI to get the full details.

    As to the second part of your question, this tells you the specification Camden has for the role when recruiting: https://www.jobsgopublic.com/jobs/housing-manager-ward-lbc01371/from/zgylte9dsxtch/3/of/79/opening_at/desc

    It doesn’t tell you whether they got the level they were looking for.

    p.s. Forum guide to complaining here: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/complaining-effectively/

    in reply to: Neighbor Complaint #4416

    If the person is a Camden Council tenant then they have certain obligations: http://camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/housing/council-tenants-and-leaseholders/file-storage-items/the-tenants-guide—information-for-tenants-of-camden-council-homes.en and in particular page 130 of the PDF attachment listed there. It’s in the section about tenancy conditions. Contact Camden (020 7974 4444) will then have the right escalation details for you.

    To be honest I don’t know if this also applies to leaseholders (I think there may be some provision) or privately owned properties, so it depends on who their landlord is, and whether they are definitely a tenants. We’ve a guide here that helps works out who is a leaseholder: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/finding-fellow-leaseholders/

    in reply to: Total loss of heating hot water for over a month now #4394

    Hi there. I don’t believe the Forum have had any similar reports though their main channels.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve found that when calling Camden Repairs they’ve happily told me if anyone else in the block has been affected (if I’ve asked). Alternatively do ask your neighbours.

    In terms of getting the issue sorted, I’d definitely ask your local councillor and, given the length of time, perhaps attend their next advice surgery in person. See http://camden.gov.uk/theme/camden-bremen/ccm/navigation/council-and-democracy/who-represents-you/councillors/ for more details of when the next surgery is (usually best checking all your local councillors).

    In the meantime, do have a read of our guidance here, as that may help you progress your issue. For instance if you get the ticket reference number you can then ask them to escalate it the following day, if you quote the same reference, and ask to speak to a manager as you can prove that the repair hotline’s promises aren’t being kept (e.g. no callback). More info here: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/complaining-effectively/

    Hopefully someone will also be along to let you know what your legal rights are. Given the length of time LEASE or Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to help.

    Hope that all helps,
    Paul Ginsberg

    in reply to: Major Works, Fire Risk Assessment Works #4374

    Good spot! It’s Monday, 11th December. Correction now going out.

    in reply to: Major Works, Fire Risk Assessment Works #4368

    Hi J Hautman and others,

    Just to say that the Leaseholders’ Forum will be having an Open Meeting about these expensive proposed Fire Risk Assessments (currently scheduled all across the borough) in December. For more details please see the latest newsletter (out today).

    Fire risk assessments (open meeting); All change at the top; Date changes!

    Best regards,
    Paul

    in reply to: Gas leak #4354

    Hi Ellen,
    Just some quick ideas but your local Councillor may be able to help. Also Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to let you know the legal position over what’s required.
    Good luck!
    Paul

    in reply to: Subletting my flat – have you encountered any problems? #4338

    Hi Liveseeds.
    Good thing you checked, as I don’t think either of these points are correct.

    I checked in with Mike Edmunds (head of Leaseholder Services) and this is what he said:

    The council has recently included an article in the home owner news on letting which states:

    Frequently asked questions about letting out your property – we have had several enquiries from leaseholders, asking what the Camden lease allows:

    Q: Can I use my property for short holiday lets?
    A: No, your lease requires you to use your property for residential use only and letting your property on sites such as Airbnb is a breach of your lease. Breaching the lease could also invalidate the buildings insurance.

    Q: Do I have to apply for an additional licence under Camden’s local licensing scheme?
    A: Yes, if your property is occupied by three or more people who form more than one household, your property is a flat in multiple occupation.

    Mike didn’t answer your question about smoke alarms, but I think you need more that 1 of those too. If you contact hmolicensing@camden.gov.uk they will be able to advise you on this. Email is probably best as in my experience they rarely answer the phone (and this way you have it in writing)

    in reply to: Setting up a RTA – 60% representation clarification #4326

    It’s 60% of people need to actively sign up, so this will require door knocking etc.

    The Leaseholders’ Forum have produced a guide on how which properties are leasehold on your estate:
    https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/finding-fellow-leaseholders/

    in reply to: Major Works 2017/18 Bill Extortionate #4312

    Hi Emma,
    Not the answer you want, but if you are fancy financial hardship do discuss this with Leaseholder Services as they have various schemes available. None right off the money, but one option includes, I believe, a charge against your home (which may also have interest applied).

    If you struggle to get to speak to someone appropriate send me a message and I’ll do my best to put someone in contact with you.
    Paul

    in reply to: Waiting for bill for work done 4 yrs ago – Walker House #4309

    Failing anything else you can submit an official complaint regarding lack of communication: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/complaining-effectively/

    (but you might still not get the response you want, but it doesn’t hurt).

    in reply to: Help Needed with a Freehold Purchase #4307

    Hi Mazboy,
    This Forum usually does with issues where Camden Council is the freeholder. It doesn’t sound like this is the case, but do let me know if I am wrong?

    In any case, LEASE (Leasehold Advisory Service) should be able to assist. They offer a free 15 minute consultation and their booking details are here: https://clients.lease-advice.org/appointments.aspx

    Best regards,
    Paul

    in reply to: Waiting for bill for work done 4 yrs ago – Walker House #4306

    Hi Charlotte,

    Camden do not produce interim invoices, only statements of monies spent so far. I suspect you won’t get far as have no legal requirement to produce these so the usual complaints process won’t work.

    If the works aren’t complete (or the sub-contractor hasn’t given Camden the final costs) they Camden can’t issue the final invoice. A statement showing that the works costs are still outstanding may be sufficient (but that depends on your individual private legal agreement with the previous owners).

    You may be able to query with your lawyers whether you can get a time extension as the works have not yet been completed?

    Sorry not to be able to provide more positive news.

    Paul

    in reply to: Leasehold building insurance #4296

    Hi SS,

    Contents insurance: This definitely won’t be covered for a number of reasons, including that it’s not Camden Council’s requirement to insure the contents within your flat and everyone will want different levels of insurance anyway.

    As to the cost: I’m going to hazard a complete guess that it will be in line with the existing cost (plus inflation), which is already included in your service charge. The only reason that we’re notified is that it’s a legal requirement to do so whenever the contract comes up for renewal; I find it’s one of the less contentious aspects of the service charge bill.

    Best regards, Paul

    in reply to: Herbrand Street Estate Works #4276

    Hi Folks. Rather than exchange details in public, I’ll give you each other’s email addresses (or you can also use the messaging facility on this discussion board).

    Best regards,
    Paul
    Discussion Board Maintainer 🙂

    in reply to: Extension of lease #4267

    For what it’s worth, I understand that Camden Council doesn’t have any “problem” extending the lease – they’re compelled to do so by law and it’s a small bit of extra income for them, so it’s just a standard piece of work. Also I imagine that the expiry dates of leases are still so far in the future that there’s no benefit in Camden dragging their feet.

    Contact Leaseholder Services and they should be able to help. In any event, once done perhaps report back so we know how you got on, and this will benefit others 🙂

    Paul

    in reply to: Noisy communal heating #4259

    If you’re suffering, perhaps your neighbours are too. Consider forming a TRA or Leaseholders Association, which will lend weight to your complaint (sorry that no other solutions leap to mind – others might have better suggestions?)

    Also, make you sure keep a note as to the complaint reference to check that it is being processed correctly. You might also want to speak to your local councillor to see if they will take up your case.

    There are guides on all of the above (forming associations and complaints) here: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/

    Best of luck,
    Paul

    in reply to: Garbage mountain in Wellesley Rd #4250

    Have you tried to log the missed collection online?
    https://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/environment/waste-and-recycling/twocolumn/new-recycling-rubbish-and-reuse-guide/

    Also, do bear in mind the Leaseholders’ Forum recommendations for logging calls/emails/contacts, in case you want to go down the Complaints path later on: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/complaining-effectively/

    Best regards,
    Paul

    in reply to: heating and hot water charge calculation #4221

    Hi there,

    The newish Camden Council Service Charge Guide (pages 17 and 35) might be of use. Also the Leaseholders’ Forum have created two guides which explain about heating upgrades and the gas system that Camden Council uses:

    https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/heating-options
    https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/gas-pricing/

    Personally, I’m in in favour of individual systems and have not yet heard of any estates that love their communal systems…

    p.s. I believe, if you really want, you can contact the Leaseholder Services team to visit their offices and see the actual invoices. Whether this makes them good value, is an entirely different matter!

    Best regards and good luck!
    Paul Ginsberg
    Leaseholders’ Forum member

    in reply to: Fire doors (Updating old glass front doors) #4179

    Your lease will set out what counts as a communal area (unfortunately I can’t visualise your particular circumstance, so can’t comment further). Landings outside your property to which others have access are very likely to be defined as communal.

    The Service Charge guide, page 16 has a grid defining what is and isn’t Camden’s responsilibity. From my experience and from looking around my locality, I would say front doors are leaseholders responsibility (including frame if necessary), but I’m no lawyer! Weirdly, internal door frames are Camden’s responsibility.

    in reply to: Fire doors (Updating old glass front doors) #4176

    If the fire doors are in communal areas then it is Camden Council’s responsibility to ensure that they are adequate. Does your estate have a TRA? – (often ideas can be proposed by them to Camden Council to take forward)

    if there are no other suggestions (from more informed sources!) then this department within Camden Council should be able to help re. the appropriateness of the fire doors within your building. This page lists links to the relevant legislation and their contact details: https://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/environment/building-control/?context=live

    in reply to: Backdated Service Charge Correction? #4154

    I believe you can ask to see them (and fairly sure under FOI too), but you may be invited to the Council offices to take a look rather than them print everything out. And they won’t necessarily be in an easy-to-read format, so take a friend to help you too if you can!

    in reply to: Major works bill from 2011 #4140

    Hi there. I spoke to Peter about this last night. Please don’t take this as gospel as I might have misunderstood…

    There are two strands. First is that the council have to issue Section 20B notices every 18 months telling you that the works have not been settled and the state of the costs outstanding. If they don’t do this, then the maximum they can charge is £250.

    The second is that despite the Section 20B notices, under the Statute of Limitations, the council have 6 years from when the final charge was incurred to bill you. The trouble is that this “end date” is open to interpretation and therefore may conceivably have to go to a court of law to decide.

    So, my takeaway is, if you get a large bill, and either of the above conditions is met, it may be well worth fighting it.

    I’ve tried to look for resources on the Net to back up the above statements, but I’ve found very little easily accessible (i.e. non legalease) information specifically related to leaseholders on this topic. I suspect this would be ideal for one of our Guides in due course, but there’s already 3 in the queue!

    If anyone is reading this, is knowledgeable, and fancies writing up a couple of paragraphs on this topic, then that would be amazing – just send me a message or click on the Contact Us link above.

    Some references: http://www.servicechargedisputeguide.info/section-20b-the-18-month-rule/ and http://www.inbrief.co.uk/claim-preparations/civil-claim-limitation-periods/

    Best regards,
    Paul Ginsberg
    Leaseholders’ Forum member

    in reply to: Insurance #4134

    Just a reminder to folk not to share email addresses in public (otherwise you will be likely to suffer an increase in spam). If you are a registered user of this website and logged in, you will notice that there is a now messaging facility (it’s relatively new) so you can send a message to Gerry (or anyone else) directly 🙂

    Back to the question in hand; Gerry, the very approximate value of your property can be seen here: http://www.mouseprice.com/house-prices/brunswick+centre,+wc1n?SortBy=2

    Whether the charges are reasonable or not I have no idea. For 2 bedrooms in Kiln Place (60.7m), according to a recent service charge statement, the cost is £196.95 plus a 10% management surcharge per year (if that helps). Flat prices in Kiln Place can also be looked up on the above website.

    in reply to: Waxham Refurb help please #4130

    Hi Tardigrade. I’ve just sent you a message with Shafeeq’s number – he’s both a member of the Forum and Chair of their TRA, so should be able to help!

    Re Section 1.
    My own personal observation is to get the assurances in writing, then you will have a fall back position if that proves to be incorrect. If you contact the Council they will be able to confirm whether you need their permission, or not, to make the alterations you are considering.

    Section 2 is all about local knowledge specific to the building, hopefully Shafeeq will know someone who can help, but otherwise consider attending the next TRA meeting if it is soon?

    Section 3: Timescales: Ask Camden what their current turnaround time is (and ideally post back here as to what the answers are!). The Leaseholder Services team should be able to point you in the right direction. Re. “too long” – it all depends on your definitions of too long!

    Others also welcome to chip in their advice – I haven’t undergone this sort of thing so can’t provide much detailed help.
    Best regards, Paul

    in reply to: Failure to give Section 20 Notice #4114

    Re. the process – it is for Camden to take you (eventually) to the LVT (now known as “First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)”) if you refuse to pay.

    As to the rest, I can’t help much (I don’t know if other readers have experience of this? Do comment if you have!), but Camden have been known to settle out of court and you could ask them to take you to arbitration first, which they were trialling, but I’m not sure how far they got with that. You might even want to suggest it to them when they next send a demand.

    Just a suggestion, but there are now face-to-face meetings with members of the Leaseholder Services’ team just before every Leaseholders’ Forum meeting. The next one is scheduled for Tuesday, 29th November from 5.30pm (our meeting starting at 6.45pm). I’m not sure whether this is within their remit or not, but you might want to email them and see if you could have a meeting to discuss it – it might save a lot of aggro (I’m always the optimist!).

    Booking is essential for these face-to-face meetings. Here’s an excerpt from a recent newsletter with more details:

    Update on the Leaseholder Surgeries: need questions answered?… this may help
    Some people dislike the Contact Camden call centre, and others are confused by paperwork in the post, so surgeries help explain bills and resolve outstanding issues with members of Camden’s Leaseholder Services.

    The sessions have proved very successful and will now be scheduled from 6pm to 7.15pm on the same evening as Leaseholders’ Forum meetings for the foreseeable future. The only significant change is that they are no longer being billed as “drop-in” and you need to book in advance (even if only a day or two prior), so that Leaseholder Services can ensure that enough staff and time are available to answer your queries. Book your appointment via leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk.

    Best regards,
    Paul Ginsberg
    Leaseholders’ Forum member

    in reply to: Major Works 2016 Bill #4069

    Hi Miccael. You need to speak to your solicitor as they should have warned you about forthcoming major works when you bought the property (depending on how long you have been living in the flat). You can speak to Leaseholders Services within Camden Council to find out when they first issued the notice that there would be forthcoming Major Works as they would have had to do statutory consultation.

    Regarding the charges, it’s during the consultation process that you need to start fighting this, so it may be too late, unless the works are substandard or there have been significant costs over and above the additional estimate. Here’s a document we’ve written, but is due to be substantially revised later on this year, on this matter: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/heating-options (it particularly focuses on heating systems, but the principles are the same)

    Others may have more advice!

    p.s. If you have problems paying online in installments call Leaseholders Services and they will be able to guide you.

    Best regards, Paul

    in reply to: Backdated Service Charge Correction? #4067

    I would hope that it would be since the error first occurred, but I think that having more specific information would help. Also it depends on how you design “significant” and whether Camden agrees.

    As an example, Camden don’t always fulfil their obligations under the lease (things to do with cleaning windows, but I could easily misremembering the example). They don’t charge for this service and therefore they say that the material effect is “nil” – because you aren’t being charged, you don’t lose out.

    In the first instance, I would personally email Camden, see what they say and then ask them to justify this stance. That way you have everything in writing. Ultimately the First Tier Tribunal (property chamber) would be the referee.

    Here’s Wiki on the Statute of Limitations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limitation_periods_in_the_UK (no responsibility for accuracy of lack thereof!)

    Cheers, Paul

    in reply to: Major Works billed as Service Charges #4059

    Hi wendyh. The response you received could have been phrased more clearly. There are two very different parts to the answer you received and possibly they should not be connected by being in the same paragraph.

    “The feedback we received from leaseholders (more often than not from the leaseholders’ forum) is that they want more regular updates about leaseholders’ liability for major works” This was us asking for more information – leaseholders regularly complain to us about bill shock.

    It does not mean that we asked for major works to be billed in advance: we just asked for more information to be made available. Just because the two sentences sit side by side does not mean we asked for this, nor does the response you receive actually claim that we did (but as I as said, it certainly could have been phrased better). So, any decision over billing in advance is a different matter which we were not consulted over as far as I am aware.

    That said, with major works I know that there is a new (permanent) scheme where people can get a 5% discount if they pay towards the beginning of the scheme right at the start or can pay in agreed instalments (but sadly cannot get both the discount and pay in instalments!). The guide for these payment options isn’t ready yet as they have only been recently approved by Camden Council’s Cabinet. The Forum has been promised to have input on the guide in due course (in terms of trying to make it as user friendly as possible).

    Hope that clarifies.

    in reply to: Major Works billed as Service Charges #4043

    Hi Alex. I’m afraid I don’t have the details – there may be something in the Forum minutes, but I couldn’t guarantee it as items aren’t written down verbatim for reasons of practicality. I would have to suggest reading the minutes for the last few meetings this year and combining that with a Google search.

    My impression is that Camden Council, like many other council I know about, changes/retargets its investment/building and refurbishment strategy depending on what funding pots are available and those pots are deliberately designed to ensure that that happens – it certainly does cause last minute changes as schemes can withdrawn without any notice or have very short application periods. I’m certain it’s a pain in the backside for all concerned. In terms of accuracy in meeting the criteria, I would hope that Camden tries to strictly comply with the criteria because the risks of getting it wrong and having the bill fall on Camden Council itself are too great (whether I’m right or wrong on the latter point may be for the various schemes’ auditors to pick up on).

    Sometimes the funding pots just benefit council tenants (such as kitchen refurbs via Better Homes) and sometimes leaseholders benefit (such as insulation, which I think was delivered via energy companies after directions from central government). At a guess, also sometimes leaseholders pay for the benefits while tenants don’t. All works charged to leaseholders “have” to be justifiable in terms of reasonableness/appropriateness – but at that point people’s views will differ over what is reasonable and what isn’t (especially in terms of how well the works are carried out!).

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 75 total)