News Update – May 2019

Topics in this Update


Forum Meetings
Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Committee Meetings
Estate Regeneration Ballots
Building Safety – Hackitt Review & Camden 2025
Caretaking Review
Responsive Security Patrol and CCTV
New Landlord Structure for Council Owned Properties
Survey of Tenants and Residents (STAR)
Thames Water charges
Fire Safety Advisory Panel (FSAP) papers
Other Concerns

Forum Meetings
The next Forum meeting is on Tuesday 28 May at 7pm in the Council Chamber at Crowndale Centre, 218 Eversholt St, London NW1 1BD (around the corner from Mornington Crescent Underground Station). A full list of Forum Members can be found here. To contact a member representing your district please email camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk with “FAO [Member Name]” at the top of the message.

The draft minutes of the February meeting are posted here on the Council website. The agenda pack for this next meeting will be available on the website a week before the meeting.

Please note that whilst leaseholders and other observers are welcome to attend, only Members have a right to speak. To address the meeting on an Agenda item, known as a deputation, please send in a written request no later than 5pm on Thursday 23 May, to the Committee Support Officer outlining the points you wish to make. More information on making a deputation is available here on the Council website.

Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Just before the Forum meeting there is also the Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery running from 5.30pm to 7pm. You can arrange to meet with a member of the Leaseholder Services team who will help to explain bills and resolve outstanding issues. You must make an appointment – email leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk or call 020 7974 4444.

Committee meetings
To read more on the news information below, click on the link to the relevant Committee papers:
– Housing Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 28 March 2019 (Link: HSC28mar2019)
The next meeting of the Housing Scrutiny Committee is on Tuesday, 16th July 2019 at 6.30pm

– Fire Safety Advisory Panel papers for meeting held on 22 January 2019 (Link: FSAP22jan2019)
– Fire Safety Advisory Panel papers for meeting held on 9 April 2019 (Link: FSAP09apr2019).
The next meeting of the Fire Safety Advisory Panel is on Wednesday, 26 June 2019 at 6.30pm.
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Estate Regeneration Ballots
A report of the Director of Development sets out the Council’s proposed approach to estate regeneration ballots.

It is Camden’s commitment to residents that their voice will be heard within major decisions about their homes, neighbourhoods and communities. The Council is proposing to adopt all of the Greater London Authority’s (GLA’s) requirements for estate regeneration ballots, meaning that any Council led scheme involving the demolition of affordable or leasehold homes, that also involves the construction of more than 150 homes, will result in a ballot of all eligible residents to determine if it goes ahead. This will be subject to the same exemptions as the GLA has made to schemes that are to facilitate major infrastructure schemes, sheltered housing decommissioning and others.

The Council is working with residents of Wendling and West Kentish Town Estates to develop options for possible regeneration of their estates. Part of the consultation with residents over the next few months would include discussion on the Council’s approach to ballots. The intention was that any changes to the proposed approach to ballots set out in this paper as a result of consultation with residents would then be agreed at Cabinet prior to any ballot. Also any changes that were made would have to remain consistent with the GLA’s ballot guidelines.

The GLA had brought in the need to allow tenants to have a ballot on estate regeneration schemes which involved demolition so the community felt that they had the ability to halt such proposals. The Council does not expect to ballot any approved CIP pipeline schemes / phases that secured planning permission on or prior to 18th July 2018 as these are covered by the GLA’s transitional arrangements.

The ballot would be a paper based vote that would take place over 21 days, with a yes no answer. The ballot would be based around the landlord offer, with further work following a positive vote to develop the proposal to planning submission stage. The GLA guidance noted that a further ballot might be necessary if the proposals change significantly from the balloted landlord offer, but there is room for interpretation around what would constitute a significant change. Camden would be consulting with the GLA throughout the process. GLA guidance suggests buy-to-let landlords are not eligible to vote.

For more, read the Committee papers here HSC28mar2019
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Building Safety – Hackitt Review & Camden 2025
A report of the Cabinet Member Better Homes sets out the work to date to deliver ‘Camden 2025 Safe Homes’ – the Council’s commitment to achieving the highest standard of safety in all Council homes – and the on-going work required to embed resident safety in the way the Council does things, planning the Council’s response to the Government’s Hackitt Review and the prospect of a new statutory safety framework. The report also recommends that the Council co-produce a Camden resident safety charter through a community conversation with residents.

Immediately following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, and the evacuation of the Chalcots estate in 2017, the Council appointed the first local authority Director of Resident Safety in the country, supported by a small Resident Safety Team – Heads of Engagement & Strategy, Compliance and Governance, and Safer Homes.

The report refers to the programme of independent cladding testing for high-rise residential blocks. Testing at the Chalcots estate identified ACM cladding panels that did not have a fire retardant filler (the same type of panels used at Grenfell tower) fitted to the five towers. The cladding was removed between December 2017 and January 2018 and an independent review of the Chalcots evacuation was commissioned. Since publication of the Review report in June 2018, officers have been working through the report recommendations and the lessons learned from the evacuation process. Extensive resident engagement has been a fundamental part of the selection of a solid aluminium panel system for the replacement cladding at Chalcots. The aim of the process was to ensure that resident feedback informed selection alongside technical engineering advice from specialist consultants. This engagement and selection process has also been followed regarding the replacement of the curtain wall and windows on the estate.

Early work with residents in shaping safety processes included setting up the Fire Safety Advisory Panel (FSAP). The FSAP meets in public with its papers published on the Council’s website; meetings are co-chaired by the Cabinet Member for Better Homes and a resident panel member. There are five full and five reserve resident members recruited through an interview process, with participation by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) who are also members of the Panel. The Panel supports the Director of Resident Safety in ensuring that tenant and leaseholder voices are central to the Council’s developing approach to resident and property safety and residents are members of the stakeholder panel for the recruitment of Directors of Resident Safety. The LFB has a monthly ‘partnership’ meeting with the Camden Fire/Resident Safety team, to discuss trends, provide advice and work alongside the Council in community outreach engagement. (There is more information below on the work of the FSAP).

The Council has regulatory, safety responsibilities for both its own and private sector property delivered through Environmental Health and Building Control Teams. As a result of under investment in construction industry training there is a shortage of professionally qualified staff. Post Grenfell demand for building control and safety professionals has increased steadily, Camden has responded by developing in-house service capacity, training existing staff and recruiting graduate building control officers to build talent, skills and available resources.

Part of the Camden 2025 Safe Homes commitment is a programme of periodic fire risk assessment (FRA) for Council homes and the wider property portfolio. To help deliver the fire safety programme, the Council has invested to increase the in-house resources dedicated to safety and recruited a dedicated Fire Safety Team based in the Property Management Division. The Team has an establishment increased from 5 to 14 staff reporting to a new post of Head of Fire Safety and Health & Safety Delivery, and includes in-house Fire Safety Advisers. External Fire Risk Assessors undertake FRAs in line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and Camden property managers develop programmes of works to individual homes based on these fire risk assessments.

In September 2018 Camden began to carry out new Type 4 FRAs, which include intrusive checks in communal areas and a sample of homes. Tenant & Resident Association representatives are invited to participate in the fire risk assessment of their homes and receive copies of the FRA reports that are checked by in-house Fire Safety Advisers and made available on the Council’s website. The resulting FRA work varies from property to property but where a fire risk assessment has identified something as necessary, fire safety actions include new signage, emergency lighting, redecorating communal areas using fire retardant paint, replacing or upgrading fire doors & door closers, smoke detectors & alarms and ensuring adequate fire stopping (to prevent the spread of smoke & fire). (There is further information below under ‘FSAP’)

Following the Grenfell fire, the Government commissioned Dame Judith Hackitt to review building regulations and building safety to establish a new statutory framework for the regulation of the design and construction of new buildings, their maintenance and management. The final Hackitt report recommended a new statutory system with an initial focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings 10+ storeys in height. The Government has accepted all of the 52 recommendations made by the review and has published its response – the Building Safety Implementation Plan. A White Paper consultation is expected to begin in May 2019 and it will be some time before the detail of the proposed new safety regime and the timescale for implementation is known. In the meantime, the report concludes that the Council should continue with the development of its own resident safety approach and undertake a programme of internal system review against the Hackitt recommendations and to co-produce with residents a Camden Resident Safety Charter to make clear what the Council’s safety commitments mean in practice.

For more, read the Committee papers here HSC28mar2019
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Caretaking Review
The Cabinet Member Better Homes has reported on the Caretaking and Estate Cleansing Review which considers whether an updated caretaking model is required to meet current resident’s needs. Whilst cleaning remains a major part of the service and was a key priority for residents, there was a range of other demands on caretakers such as increased anti-social behaviour, rough sleeping and monitoring resident safety requirements.

The final decision on the proposal for the external cleaning service and the reorganisation and modernisation of the Caretaking Service would be taken by the Cabinet Member Better Homes, before Summer 2019. The proposed approach would be shared with the DMCs at their June cycle of meetings so they were aware of the final arrangements. Officers would send the final report to all Members of the scrutiny committee so that they were aware of the proposed approach.

The proposed approach for the Caretaking Service, would enable caretakers to fully undertake the new roles as they would cover fewer estates than they did now so they could focus on the role in hand, have a higher level of community visibility, enable them to get to know the people living on the estate, and through that better understand their service needs. Veolia would continue to deliver the collection of bulk refuse along with the Council’s street cleaning contracts. Taking an element of the service back in-house would not lead to any increased service charges. However, if the service model was changed then this may lead to some increase in service charges.

For more, read the Committee papers here HSC28mar2019
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Responsive Security Patrol and CCTV
The Director of Property Management provided an update on the Responsive Security Patrol (RSP), the plans for CCTV on housing estates and the joined up work carried out between Property Management, Housing Management and the Community Safety teams to tackle anti-social behaviour.

In January 2018 the Council mobilised a new contract for the RSP with the contractor Croma Vigilance, taking the opportunity to introduce new contractual requirements and ways of working.

The aim of the RSP is to reassure and engage with the community, responding to specific call outs from residents, carrying out pre-determined patrols and acting on intelligence provided by the community safety team, housing management and Police. The RSP also gathers evidence that can be used by the Police and other teams to take enforcement action. A breakdown of RSP call-outs in 2018 shows the greatest number (48%) being about noise.

The RSP is funded through leaseholder and tenant service charges and is a dedicated service for the Council’s housing estates. Tenants are charged a weekly service charge to cover the estimated cost of the service for the coming year, the charge is currently £0.61 per week. Leaseholders are charged an annual amount based on the actual cost of the service. In 2018/19 the Council provided additional funding of £0.15m to help develop the patrol and the RSP now consists of five vehicles and operates from 4PM to 4AM.

To help monitor the performance of the RSP a panel is being established with residents. The panel will be co-chaired by a resident and the Cabinet Member Better Homes. The Terms of Reference have been finalised and were signed off at the March 2019 District Management Committees. The recruitment processes for panel members are underway.

The Council will be upgrading the CCTV system and wireless network across the borough, at an estimated cost of £4-5m. Leaseholders will be charged a share of the capital cost of the installation in line with the conditions in individual leases. Installation of the first new camera is likely to be at least 18 months away, according to the security consultant.

The upgraded CCTV digital control room was installed in January 2019 and will go ‘live’ later in the year. The Council owns the CCTV cameras currently in position; Croma Vigilant holds the existing contract to operate CCTV in Camden; a further company has responsibility for repairs. The upgraded control room will be able to monitor 100 cameras at a time. As the new cameras will all be digital, algorithms could identify when something was occurring that required a human operator to review images.

For more, read the Committee papers here HSC28mar2019
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New Landlord Structure for Council Owned Properties
The Cabinet Member Better Homes reported that recruitment is underway for the new Neighbourhood officer role which will replace the Housing officer role. When tenants contact their Neighbourhood officer with a problem, the new way of working will mean they will be taken through all the way to resolution, instead of being passed on to another service. Neighbourhood officers will be empowered to make decisions to address resident’s needs. The new service is set to be implemented in two stages, first in June 2019 for properties in Kentish Town, Gospel Oak and Hampstead Housing Districts, and then in September 2019 for the remaining properties.
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Survey of Tenants and Residents (STAR)
Independent research company Acuity has been commissioned to conduct a new STAR Survey during Summer 2019. Tenants and residents views will be sought on a number of different housing matters including repairs and maintenance. This information will be analysed and comparisons made with the 2016 survey to see how Housing Services was performing.
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Thames Water charges
There has been some considerable concern from tenants at the news about Thames Water terminating its contract with the Council to collect water charges on its behalf. This issue does not apply to leaseholders as they are already invoiced directly by Thames Water.
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Fire Safety Advisory Panel (FSAP) papers
The Fire Safety Advisory Panel (FSAP) was established in January 2018 to bring together residents, relevant professionals, staff and Members with the relevant knowledge and skills, in order to put in place measures to ensure that Camden residents never have to experience another Chalcots like incident.

The following extracts are taken from agenda papers for FSAP meetings in January and April 2019 and the minutes of the January 2019 meeting. There is a link to the papers at the end of the thread.

The Fire Safety Advisory Panel considered a report of the Director of Housing Management titled ‘The Council’s tenancy conditions and fire safety’ to inform the panel’s work. The report:
– explains the process for changing the Council’s tenancy conditions
– explains in broad terms how the tenancy conditions currently support fire safety
– Looks in detail at the relevant recommendations in the Hackitt report and the corresponding Council tenancy conditions
– Considers the similarities and differences between the Council’s tenancy conditions and lease terms.

The following are extracts from the report Summary:
5.1 The Council’s tenancy conditions provide a solid basis for staff to take forward fire safety related activity. They stand up well alongside the Hackitt report recommendations and, taking these into account, there are no obvious gaps.

5.2 Although lease terms present additional challenges the Council’s standard leases contain very similar key clauses relating to fire to those in the tenancy conditions.

6.3 As to the position concerning leaseholders, there are a number of different leases, so that although the terms are identical, or virtually identical, in form they are found in different places within the differing leases.

6.4 In contrast with tenants, the approach can also be very different. With reference to, e.g., changing the doors which are demised to the lessees for safety purposes presents the council with 2 potential choices as to utilising different parts of the lease to argue either:- (a) for an implied right to undertake the works; or, (b) contend that the lessee is in breach of covenant, such that: (i) s/he must replace the door, or (ii) that the Council will waive the breach and undertake the work itself.

6.5 There may also be service charge disputes centred around the construction of the lease that are adjudicated in the First Tier Tribunal. One recent example was: E & J Ground Rents No. 11 LLP v Various (24/01/18) where the Tribunal held that the costs of a `walking watch` were reasonably incurred, and noting that otherwise there was a real risk that the landlord may be in breach of its insurance policy if it did not implement a `walking watch`. A comment of note too was made by the Tribunal in a similar case about a `walking watch` and cladding charges in Firstport Property Services Ltd v Various leaseholders of Citiscape (09/03/18) that they did not consider any previous legal authorities of assistance “in the highly unusual circumstances that arose in this and other similar cases following the Grenfell Tower fire”.

The current standard lease gave the Council the ability to carry out gas safety inspections if it wished, though the Council had never sought to impose this for resident leaseholders. Further legal advice is being sought about how the Council could take forward this power if it wished to do so. The Council was also considering other approaches to ensuring leaseholders undertook annual gas safety checks, this included incentivising the process where for example the Council undertook this service for leaseholders free of charge.

A working group arising from the Hackitt recommendations is looking into the issue of the rights and obligations of leaseholders. This matter was also being discussed at London Council’s level who recognised the importance of clarity on the rights and obligations of tenants, landlords and regulators in relation to safety generally and specifically the right of entry to undertake safety works. It was expected that primary legislation would be required to provide the necessary powers for this to be taken forward.

A number of tenants had fitted metal grills to doors and windows of their homes, and it was unlikely that they had sought the Council’s permission to do so. Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) were picking up where these were located and officers would then have to consider what action they should take on this. The London Fire Brigade did not support metal grills being fitted to doors and windows as they required specialist equipment to cut through and were an unnecessary hazard when having to fight a fire. Should a tenant still wish to fit metal grills then the fire service could recommend the most appropriate ones to use, as some were easier for them to deal with than others.

The Fire Safety Advisory Panel considered a report of the Director of Property Management titled ‘Fire safety programme update’. The following are extracts:

The Council has commenced a new round of Fire Risk Assessments. The new FRAs are “Type 4” meaning that they include intrusive checks in communal areas and a sample of dwellings. The first batch of this new type of FRAs focussed on purpose built blocks between 6 and 9 storeys. The second batch of FRAs, focussing on purpose built blocks below 6 storeys commenced in September 2018 and was expected to be complete by February 2019. Once checked and verified, the new FRAs will be uploaded onto the Council’s website here. At 1 May 2019 there are listed FRAs for 92 buildings.

To help deliver the fire safety programme the Council is putting in place a new structure. The Council has already appointed two experienced fire safety advisors to work alongside the Principal Fire Safety Advisor and they joined the Council towards the end of 2018. The Council has also appointed a new Head of Fire Safety and H&S Delivery and they joined the Council in January 2019.

The Council has a wide ranging programme which is delivering fire safety works. The programme is complex, covers a large number of properties, is often subject to leaseholder consultation and access can be required within dwellings to install smoke and heat detection. To help track the programme the Council has a fortnightly programme review in place and is also setting up new processes to address ‘no access’ properties.

A wide range of works packages have been established – some are property specific and some form part of wider Better Homes projects. The report identifies five geographical works packages underway, totalling to £20 million. These works are due to complete by August 2019.

The Council is aware that the current approach being undertaken to contact TRA representatives in relation to a Fire Risk Assessment being undertaken on an estate, had not been working as well as it had been. Officers from the Resident Safety Division would now be discussing with colleagues in the Tenant Participation Team regarding the best way of contacting TRA and DMC representatives in relation to Fire Risk Assessments (FRA) being undertaken on estates. This information would then be shared with the contractor undertaken the current programme, and officers would put in place plans to monitor the way this was working going forward.

The start date for the Chalcots Replacement Cladding and Curtain Wall works contract was February 2019, with the overall programme of works taking approximately 124 weeks. The actual start of works would be determined by the detailed design process and the full system fire test of the proposed cladding system.

For more, read the Committee papers here FSAP22jan2019
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The Fire Safety Advisory Panel April meeting received a report from the Director of Property Management tilted ‘Street Property FRA Works Update’. The Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) programme is prioritised according to risk and includes a total of 1,968 street properties. Properties rated as High Risk in the previous FRA will be assessed every 2 years with the expectation that the risk rating will decrease following the fire safety works. Properties rated as Medium Risk will be assessed every 3 years, and properties rated previously as Low Risk will be assessed every 4 years. In financial year 2018/19, there were 400 street property FRAs carried out and in financial year 2019/20 FRAs will be carried out to the remaining 1,568 street properties. This phasing reflects the works that are currently being carried out and the next FRAs will be undertaken when works are completed.

The Camden Association of Street Properties (CASP) has highlighted concerns over the delivery of the recent fire safety works to street properties not having consideration for the original features and aspects of the build types during installation works. This feedback has initiated a renewed focus with closer working with contractors to ensure, where possible, care is taken to preserve the character of communal areas. To improve consideration of the original aspects of street properties during programmes of work, the Council’s Quality Assurance team is to arrange joint site visits with CASP to consider work completed on street properties and the approaches taken.

The Fire Safety Advisory Panel April meeting received a report from the Head of Resident Safety Division titled ‘Supporting Residents affected by Emergencies’. The report provides information on the support offered to residents in the event of emergency evacuation and incidents such as floods or fires.

The Fire Safety Advisory Panel April meeting received a report from the London Fire Brigade Borough Commander titled ‘London Fire Brigade Performance in Camden’. The report includes operational statistics, community fire safety performance and regulatory fire safety information.

The Fire Safety Advisory Panel April meeting received a report from the Head of Resident Safety Division titled ‘Camden 2025 Resident Safety Programme’. The report sets out the Council’s work to date to deliver its commitment to resident safety and the on-going work required to embed resident safety in the way it does things; the Council is also planning its response to the Governments Hackitt Review and the prospect of a new statutory safety framework.

For more, read the Committee papers here FSAP09apr2019
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Other Concerns
If there is a particular matter of concern to you, please post details on the website Discussion Board or email your suggestion to camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk

News Update – February 2019

Topics in this Update

Forum Meetings
Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
New CCTV Service
Caretaking Service Review
Chalcots Replacement Cladding and Curtain Wall
Retro-fitting Sprinklers
Camden Resident Account
New Landlord Structure for Council Owned Properties
Other Concerns

Forum Meetings
The next Forum meeting is on Tuesday 19 February at 7pm in the Council Chamber at Crowndale Centre, 218 Eversholt St, London NW1 1BD (around the corner from Mornington Crescent Underground Station). A full list of Forum Members can be found here. To contact a member representing your district please email camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk with “FAO [Member Name]” at the top of the message.

The Agenda pack and the draft minutes of the last meeting are now posted here on the Council website.

Please note that whilst leaseholders and other observers are welcome to attend, only Members have a right to speak. To address the meeting on an Agenda item, known as a deputation, it is necessary to send in a written request no later than 5pm on Friday 15 February, to the Committee Support Officer outlining the points you wish to make. More information on making a deputation is available here on the Council website.

Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Just before the Forum meeting there is also the Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery running from 5.30pm to 7pm. You can arrange to meet with a member of the Leaseholder Services team who will help to explain bills and resolve outstanding issues. You must make an appointment – email leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk or call 020 7974 4444.

New CCTV Service
The Council is developing proposals for a new CCTV system, with a high bandwidth wireless ring network. This would replace existing cameras with new state of the art CCTV cameras and the inclusion of ‘Rapidly Deployable Cameras’ that can be deployable strategically to cover high risk areas. The new CCTV system will be ring-fenced for housing residents only and could be funded from a new service charge to tenants and leaseholders receiving this service in order to recover the capital cost of this upgrade.

Caretaking Service Review
The Council’s Caretaking Service is currently undergoing a review. A proposals paper is to be considered by the Council’s Housing Scrutiny Committee on 28 March 2019.

Chalcots Replacement Cladding and Curtain Wall
The Council resolved at a meeting on 8 January 2019 that the Chalcots contract be awarded to Wates Living Space Limited, as set out in the published report. The report is here.

In response to questions, officers made the following additional remarks:-
– The cladding system would have the highest A1 fire protection rating throughout.
– The anodised panels selected looked as similar as possible to the previous panels.
– The regular meetings with tenants would continue throughout the installation process.

The Director of Property Management remarked that the co-location of contractors and council staff on the estate would continue and that mitigation measures for disruption would be regularly reviewed with residents and compensation for heat loss would continue until the new cladding was in place.

Retro-fitting Sprinklers
Camden’s Housing Scrutiny Committee is monitoring the outcome of proposals by Wandsworth Council to retro-fit sprinklers in all of its blocks of flats with ten plus storeys.

Wandsworth Council has applied to the First Tier Property Tribunal seeking a determination that they are entitled to recover, as part of the service charge payable by the leaseholders, costs relating to the expense of fitting (and maintaining) sprinkler systems within the leaseholders’ flats. The latest information posted by Wandsworth on its website is here.

Wandsworth leaseholders’ options are to respond by 5 February 2019, for an application to strike-out or transfer the case to the Upper Tribunal, or alternatively to lodge a statement of case by 19 February.

Camden Resident Account
A report to the Housing Scrutiny Committee notes that the number of leaseholders signing up for the Camden Account (Now called a Resident Account) continues to rise with 6,451 (over 66%) registered and using the services at 18/19 Q2.

New Landlord Structure for Council Owned Properties
Restructuring of Camden’s Landlord service, which manages council owned residential properties, will be introduced in two stages in June and September 2019. The aim is to put the resident at the heart of the service, creating a new neighbourhood role that seeks to understand and address the context in which a resident is living and providing one trusted point of contact for residents.

The restructure will have an impact on the front line and management structures across the following services: tenancy management, voids and lettings, rent collection, outreach support to vulnerable residents (Floating Support).

There will be 10 new Neighbourhood teams, each with between 6-9 Neighbourhood Officers and a Neighbourhood Manager. The new Neighbourhood Officer will now have a patch size of 400 instead of 800 properties. There will also be up to 4 staff from other teams based in each Neighbourhood, providing more specialist support such as welfare rights, debt management, and complex repairs. Two Senior Neighbourhood Managers will provide management and support.

The new Neighbourhood teams will replace the previous structures of the Ward Housing teams, Rent teams and the Void Homes team, bringing them into one Neighbourhood team.

The consultation report and Council decision can be found here.

Other Concerns
If there is a particular matter of concern to you, please post details on the website Discussion Board or email your suggestion to camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk

News Update – November 2018

Topics in this Update

Forum Meetings
Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Service Charges
Communal Electricity Long Term Agreement
Annual report of the Cabinet Member for Better Homes
Government to fund Chalcots cladding
Survey of tenants and residents (STAR) 2016

Forum Meetings
The next Forum meeting is on Monday 10 December 2018 at 7pm at Crowndale Centre, 218 Eversholt St, London NW1 1BD (around the corner from Mornington Crescent Underground Station). Please note that whilst leaseholders and other observers are welcome to attend, only Members have a right to speak.

If there is a particular matter of concern to you, please post details on the website Discussion Board or email your suggestion to camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk

The draft minutes of the last meeting are now posted here on the Council website. The agenda pack for the next meeting will be available a week beforehand on the same link.

At the meeting in October the following members were elected to the Chair for the year:
– Chair: Dr Peter Wright (clfchair@gmail.com)
– Vice-Chair: Todd Buchanan

A full list of Forum members can be found here.

Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery
Just before the Forum meeting on 10 December there is also the Leaseholder Services Advice Surgery running from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. You can arrange to meet with a member of the Leaseholder Services team who will help to explain bills and resolve outstanding issues. You must make an appointment – email leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk or call 020 7974 4444.

Service Charges
It is that time of year when we receive from the Council summary details of the actualised ‘day to day service charge’ and of any major works costs.  The details are for the financial year ending 31 March 2018 and the accompanying invoice or credit note reflects the adjustment of the estimated charge which was invoiced in February 2017. If you are interested to see a cost breakdown and the invoices and calculations which underpin the summary you can ask Leaseholder Services to make these available for inspection (at their offices).

Camden has prepared some very useful guides to Services Charges, Major Works and Freeholders. A copy of the Guides can be found here.

Communal Electricity Long Term Agreement
The Council has entered into an agreement for the supply of communal electricity (lifts, stair lighting, etc.) until September 2020. The Council obtained dispensation from the full Section 151 consultation process on the following conditions:-

A. Camden is to provide to leaseholders within 21 days of entering into a contract information about;
i. the name of the energy supplier
ii. the date of the agreement
iii. the contract duration
iv. the date on which supply starts
v. the date on which the contract period ends
by uploading that information on its website
B. Camden is to provide free of charge to any leaseholder requesting it, a copy of the supply agreement which Camden has entered into with an energy supplier.

Camden has published the new “Contract Information” on its website at Boroughwide Section 151 Consultations.

Annual report of the Cabinet Member for Better Homes
Councillor Meric Apak presented his Annual Report for discussion at the Housing Scrutiny Committee on 25 October 2018. The report is here on the Council website.

You can watch the Scrutiny Committee meeting webcast recording here. Cllr. Apak’s presentation (Agenda item 10) and subsequent discussion starts at webcast 1hr 11min (drag the time slider).

Government to fund Chalcots cladding
The Cabinet member for Better Homes reported to the Housing Scrutiny Committee that Central Government has approved the bid for £80 million grant funding for the replacement of Chalcots cladding and curtain walling.  Until now the costs have been mainly funded from Council reserves.

Survey of tenants and residents (STAR) 2016
Did you know that Camden commissioned a survey of 3,354 Council tenants and leaseholders in 2016, to find out what they thought about housing services? The report is on the Council website here.

Forum Election Results

The election of Forum members for the period 2018 to 2021 is completed.

We have 6 new members, 2 previous members returning and 12 re-elected members.

To contact any of the members listed (e.g. one of those representing your area) simply email your message to camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk and include the name of the member in the subject line.

Elected Forum Members and Housing District Represented

Camden Town: Anthony Auerbach, Isabella Luger, Clive Sneddon, Wolfram Westendorf
Gospel Oak: Lucy Collyer, Philip Dunne, Josette Guédès, Robert Lopez, Karl Vaughan
Hampstead: Stuart March, Zulakha “Cindy” Mughal, Chris Tarpey, Thomas Watkins
Holborn: Todd Buchanan, David Hart, Richard Walker, Peter Wright
Kentish Town: Aldires Dall’Agnol Bugia, Shravan Sood, Hilary Westlake

Click on a name above to jump straight to the member’s election statement below.

Anthony Auerbach (Camden Town)
I am a Camden leaseholder since 2013. I and my family have sought opportunities to improve our estate and enhance community cohesion. I set up the website oakshottcourt.info and have engaged with the council on several community and leaseholder issues. I set up and am now secretary of the Oakshott Court Leaseholders Association. I would welcome the opportunity to help hold our landlord to account and defend the interests of residents and leaseholders in cooperation with other leaseholders.

Isabella Luger (Camden Town)
I have been a leaseholder forum member for a year now. Originally I became a Forum member with the intention of wanting to improve the communication between leaseholders and Camden Council especially in regards to Major Works and repair works. As a member I joint the Forum’s ‘Major Works’ sub-group with the aim to monitor and contribute to improving the process which is linked to the ‘Major Works’ i.e. how works are measured, costs of the works, duration of the works, delays etc. So far the negotiations with the Council’s Major Works Team have been rather slow due to various reasons, hence I am reapplying to remain a Forum member to allow me to continue further with the discussions and hopefully bring them to a mutually beneficial conclusion in the very near future.

Dr Clive R Sneddon (Camden Town)
I am a non-resident leaseholder who has lived since 2009 in Cartmel whenever I need to be in London. I am putting my name forward as someone who can understand and speak for the frustrations of those for whom Camden’s rules get in the way of our contribution to the local community. Leaseholders are not second class citizens, and should not be treated as such. Modern technology will enable my virtual presence at meetings even when not in London.

Wolfram Westendorf (Camden Town)
In these times of austerity, it is more important than ever for Camden leaseholders to scrutinise and challenge the council on expenditures and actions. Despite many changes and promises of improvement of works executed, cost management and fairer treatment of leaseholders the realisation of these promises is continuously lacking behind. To this date I do not think that leaseholders in Camden are treated fairly and as partners. As member of Camden’s leaseholder forum, I want to engage in a true dialogue with Camden, positively influence decisions and make our voice heard.

Lucy Collyer (Gospel Oak)
I’m keen to work with fellow leaseholder’s and the Council to improve services whilst reducing costs; which I have experience in. I have over eleven years’ experience on various types of Boards representing others. As a Whitehall civil servant (working on international negotiations) I’m familiar with policy papers, leading working groups, and working across a wide range of people and institutions to secure mutually beneficial outcomes in a constructive and creative way. If elected, I will endeavour to represent you to the best of my abilities.

Philip Dunne (Gospel Oak)
I have been an elected member of the Camden Leaseholders Forum since 2015, previously to this I attended Forum meetings and found them very useful. I have made a number of suggestions and believe in being active at meetings. As a leaseholder I am aware of issues regarding service charges, and believe that I offer a valuable contribution to the forum. I work for a property management company, which deals with both freeholds and leaseholders, setting service charges, as well as paying them, so I have the unique perspective of someone who looks at both sides of issues, and finds amicable resolutions to both parties where possible.

Josette Guédès (Gospel Oak)
During the nine years I have been a leaseholder in a residential purpose-built block of flats in Camden, I have acquired some experience of how things are done – or not done – and I would like to contribute to making things better for all leaseholders in Camden even though my gut feeling is that issues ought to be tackled at the level of the estate one lives in, i.e. between people that have the same first-hand experience of what one is talking about. Having spent years in the property business before moving to Camden, I have first-hand experience to contribute to the community.

R Lopez (Gospel Oak)
As a resident and leasehold at Silverbirch Walk for more than 20 years I feel im in a good position to apply to become a member of this forum. I’m well intergrated within the community and believe I can make a difference by representing it.

Karl Vaughan (Gospel Oak)
I would like to continue my role on the forum.

Stuart March (Hampstead)
I am a retired insurance loss assessor with extensive building and development experience. I have attended Forum meetings for the past six years, taken part in many discussions and like to think that I bring unique experience to certain issues. I would like to stand again for a place on the Forum and if elected promise regular attendance and active participation

Zulakha “Cindy” Mughal (Hampstead)
I have been a committee member for the past three years and have worked with sub groups, tackling repairs and major works. We are still hearing about leaseholders concerns for works and cost I feel this will be an agenda that has to be monitored and a system put in place where we Camden will get it right. I hope to carry on working together with Camden and bring forward to the Forum expertise of regularly pursuing unfair repairs charges, as a chair for BHRTA I have had significant experience in this area and feel the gap needs to be closed! Hopefully being on the Forum will get Camden to improve their working practices for us all.

Chris Tarpey (Hampstead)
I would like to continue my role on the forum.

Thomas Watkins (Hampstead)
I have lived in Camden for 15 years, as a leaseholder myself I believe it is important that we are heard and are given an opportunity to influence the service we receive. I believe I possess experience and skills that could contribute and benefit leaseholders. I have previously represented tenants and leaseholders. I have worked in housing management, including local authorities, for 20 years. I have experience of managing performance in all areas including gardening, cleaning, caretaking, estate services and major works.

Todd Buchanan (Holborn)
I am standing to build on the work I have undertaken during the last forum where I represented St. Pancras. I have been an active member of the working group on service charge major works and consider the forum will benefit from the continuity of me being re-elected.

David Hart (Holborn)
Having been a Camden leaseholder for 21 years I have some experience of the issues and challenges which leaseholders face. My aim as a member of the Leaseholders’ Forum group is to promote better communications with our landlord and between leaseholders. When we have a question for Camden (such as about works or service charges) we need to know the right person to ask in order to get a clear and prompt answer. I hope that leaseholders might be encouraged to make greater use of the Forum website to know what is happening and to share their concerns and experiences.

Richard Walker (Holborn)
Before I retired I was a Chartered engineer managing road safety engineering and research projects for the Department for Transport. I am the Secretary of the Red Lion Tenants and Residents Association and know that tenants are similarly affected as leaseholders by the housing service provided by Camden. I was the Chair of the Camden Housing Resident Scrutiny Group and our complaints revue made 19 recommendations for improvement. It is important to have a constructive dialogue with Camden officers, which should be on the basis of asking probing questions regarding all aspects of the way that Camden operates in order to improve housing services and ensure value for money.

Peter Wright (Holborn)
Leaseholders face difficult days; wages and house prices are falling in real terms, and council funding is being cut. Costs are rising. New blood is welcome, but new solutions can restore old problems as well as offering vain hopes. A mix of new enthusiasm and experience to cope with events in Camden, across London and nationally seems best. I have experience of all working in all those three areas which I hope to contribute to a new Forum so it succeeds for you.

Aldires Dall’Agnol Bugia (Kentish Town)
(1) I attend the Forum for the past 15 years. (2) I help Leaseholders across the Borough with their very complexed issues. (3) The reason that I want to remain as a Member is that, I have passion to help and, to work hard finding solutions to resolve anyone’s problems. (4) Walker House is an example, I was the one who took the initiative to approach the Council to have all the windows and doors changed to double glazing. Now, every resident enjoy warmth homes during the winter and, savings on gas/electricity bills. (5) I helped all the Leaseholders in Torriano Estate Kentish Town to get answers from the Council regarding poor works and, no value for money when the Council did repairs a few years ago.

Shravan Sood (Kentish Town)
I would like to continue serving on the forum.

Hilary Westlake (Kentish Town)
I have been a Camden leaseholder since 2007. I live in a small block of five 1970s purpose built flats at Gaisford Street. There are two leaseholders and three tenants. I was on the forum for several years before 2012/13. I am a theatre director but work less now that I am in my 70s, giving me more time for involvement in other activities. In these years of austerity and the financial problems that face local councils as a result, the pressure on the leaseholder is markedly tighter. Service charges increase unreasonably, mistakes are regularly made, requests for explanations are often met with a lack of clarity inevitably producing anxiety and stress in the leaseholder, who sometimes is required to find large sums of money at short notice. I would like to help make the relationship that leaseholders have with the council more straightforward and transparent.