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.

Nominations close in 1 week! (31st July)

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is run by Camden leaseholders* for Camden leaseholders*. We get re-elected every three years and anyone can stand and have the opportunity to make a difference.

If you are interested in stand and making a difference, you need to apply by 31st July.

What steps do I have to take?
If you are a Camden leaseholder or freeholder and want to apply: email your name, contact details and Camden property address along with up to 100 words explaining the reason you are standing to tp@camden.gov.uk. The closing date is Tuesday, 31st July 2018.

If there are more applicants than vacancies in your area, there will then be elections, with your statement of standing (above – 100 words) published and sent to leaseholders.

Visit our website for more details about the Forum, activities undertaken, and successes achieved, over the last three years, or our more in depth article about the 2015 election process, which was very similar.

(*) this also includes those freeholders who pay an element of service charges to Camden Council.

Leaseholders’ Forum – our elections! Your opportunity!

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is run by Camden leaseholders* for Camden leaseholders*. We get re-elected every three years and anyone can stand and have the opportunity to make a difference.

That time is now upon us! You’ll need to act fast as, if you want to stand for the Forum, you need to apply by 31st July.

This is what Peter Wright, current Chair of the Forum has to say:
“We need to more active online; to reach and involve the 40% of leaseholders who are now non-resident; we need to be far more active about service standards for all our leaseholders; and we need to be more flexible so those who can help their fellow leaseholders for part of their time can do so. If you can connect to any of this, stand for election and design the new Forum.”

This is what Camden Council, who assist with the logistical running of the Forum, have to say:
“This summer, the Camden Leaseholders’ Forum will be holding an election for new group members and ex-members wanting to return.

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is an independent group that represents the leaseholders and freeholders of Camden Council properties. As a member, you will meet senior officers and councillors regularly to discuss things like cleaning or grounds maintenance through to communal repairs.”

What steps do I have to take?
If you are a Camden leaseholder or freeholder and want to stand to become a part of the group, email your name, contact details and Camden address along with up to 100 words explaining the reason you are standing to tp@camden.gov.uk. The closing date is Tuesday, 31st July 2018.

Depending on the number of applicants, there will then be elections, with your statement of standing (above – 100 words) published and sent to leaseholders throughout your local area.

Find out more by calling Camden Council’s Reda Khelladi on 020 7974 3041 or you can also read our more in depth article about the 2015 elections which followed a very similar process. Alternatively visit our website for more details about the activities undertaken and the success achieved over the last three years.

p.s. If you missed it our Spring newsletter, which was posted to all leaseholders, is now available online.

(*) this also includes those freeholders who pay an element of service charges to Camden Council.

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

Welcome to your November 2017 newsletter from Camden Leaseholder’s Forum.

In this edition:
Fire Risk Assessments (including open meeting)
Camden Cabinet – All Change
Interested in getting started in writing or WordPress?
Forthcoming Meetings (date change!) and 2018 dates
Previous mailings
GDPR is coming
 

Fire Risk Assessments (including open meeting)
Fire Risks remain high on the Council agenda. The main focus remains on tower blocks and so national issues, but the Camden programme for fire risk assessments and ensuing works for 2017/18 has shifted to street properties. Over 1000 of our 9000 leaseholders will be seeing bills for about £3.5k as a result. If you have been affected and have gone to any of the explanatory sessions, let us know your observations or, even better, post your experiences on our Forum discussion pages.

Keith Scott, the new Director of Resident Safety has started work. His background is in risk management, and his starting point is that those who bear the risks should be part of resolving them. He has already been part of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review of the Building and Fire Regulations. We will be working with him on risks more widely across the capital and repairs programmes; anyone with skills who can share in this, please contact us.

Our main annual open meeting will focus on Fire Safety. It will be on MONDAY, 11th December at 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall. Currently, besides Mike Edmunds from Leaseholder Services, Keith Scott will be coming as will Councillor Meric Apak the Cabinet member for housing. Anthony Essien, the Chief Executive of the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) will be coming to discuss service charge implications. We are seeking a representative from the London Fire Brigade. We will therefore have experts on what is happening, what is likely to happen both to landlords and to leaseholders, and what happens in Camden. The aim is short presentations and then lots of time for questions. Please come.
 

Camden Cabinet – All Change
Camden has a new Leader in Councillor Georgia Gould, who is making openness and transparency key priorities. As you may recall, Councillor Patricia Callaghan was the member responsible for the housing portfolio. Although well intentioned, her background in social care meant it took her some time to get up to speed. In September she moved to being Cabinet Member for Tackling Health Inequality & Promoting Independence, and so back towards her previous area.

Councillor Meric Apak becomes Cabinet Member for Better Homes. He is a long-standing Camden tenant and previous tenant leader, who has had his own business as an electrical contractor. He chaired Housing Scrutiny before joining the Cabinet, and has attended our Forum. Councillor Danny Beales becomes Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities, and so responsible for Regeneration. Put simply, Councillor Danny will build, and Councillor Meric will then run new housing. Councillor Sabrina Francis takes over as Chair of Housing Scrutiny.

Click here for the full list of Camden cabinet members and their positions and the associated announcement (with the new Leader for Camden).
 

Interested in getting started in writing or looking websites?
The Forum’s writer-in-residence, Paul Ginsberg, has had to step down as newsletter-writer-in-chief as he is now working abroad. This leaves a number of opportunities/positions available for anyone who is interested. These positions can be done individually or taken together, and the time commitment is low. The only requirement is enthusiasm to writing and/or maintaining a website. An interest in leaseholders’ issues is welcome but not mandatory and full training and mentoring can be provided to suit your requirements.

So if you fancy writing or contributing to our newsletters (twice-yearly at a minimum), writing blog posts or guides, posting on social media, learning about leaseholder issues, or just to help maintain a website, let us know, speak to our Chair (at any meeting) or discuss it with any Forum member. You can also email Paul Ginsberg if you have any queries.

Paul adds: “I’ve really enjoyed my time handling the Forum’s communications. It’s enabled me to meet some really good, selfless people as well as interesting characters – and sometimes both at once! My writing style and confidence have also grown; I now regularly write well-received articles as part of my professional career. I also like to think that I have made a positive contribution to the lives of both leaseholders and tenants by, over time, improving some of Camden’s processes behind the scenes, using the knowledge and passion of our network.”
 

Next Meetings (date change!) and 2018 dates
Leaseholders’ Forum meetings will take place as follows, all at the usual venue of Camden Town Hall at 6.45pm and normally in the Council Chamber.
– 11th December 2017 (date change – this replaces the 28th November meeting)
– 16th January 2018
– 20th March 2018
– 26th June 2018
– 18th September 2018
– 23th October 2018
– 10th December 2018
 

Previous mailings
Our 2017 Spring and Autumn newsletters which were included in Camden Council’s service charge statements sent by post in March and September are now available online just in case you missed them.
 

GDPR
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a complete game-changer in terms of how companies interact with customers and even other businesses. Companies will need to prove that customers opted in to communications, amongst other matters. Even the Leaseholders’ Forum is affected!

When we first started this mailing list we didn’t think to keep details of when and where someone signed up to receive newsletters. To ensure we stay completely on the right side of this new legislation, next month we will be asking everyone on our mailing list to confirm that they want to receive our newsletter. We’re just getting the bits “behind the scenes” set up now, so look out for the email.
 

p.s. For all the news straight away (and other stories from other stories that we think might be of interest), follow us on Twitter! @CLForum

That’s all for now!
Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

STOP PRESS: Special Meeting About Leaseholders and Chalcot’s Estate

Dear Leaseholder,
 
SPECIAL MEETING ABOUT LEASEHOLDERS AND CHALCOT’S ESTATE
 
With the Leader of the Council (Councillor Georgia Gould)
and the Cabinet Member for Housing (Councillor Pat Callaghan)
 
Council Chamber, Camden Town Hall,
Tuesday, 19th September 2017 1845 hours
 
All Chalcot’s leaseholders are welcome to attend and raise their concerns
 
Full agenda at http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=382&MId=7182&Ver=4
 
Just before the meeting, there is also the Leaseholder Services help session, running from 5.30pm to 7pm. This enables you to discuss problems any with your service charge bill, in person, with members of the Leaseholder Services team at the Town Hall. You must email leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk to reserve your slot. For more info please see this article detailing the scheme.
 
p.s. For all the news straight away (and other stories from other stories that we think might be of interest), follow us on Twitter! @CLForum
 
That’s it for now!
Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
For more information please see: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk
 
If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up. You can also adjust your own preferences by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.
 
Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Open Meeting Rescheduled; Survey – Last Chance!

In this update:
November’s open meeting rescheduled & next meeting date
Leaseholders’ Forum survey – closing soon!
Councillor Pat Callaghan’s Surgery (Saturday, 19th November)
Reminder: Key Leaseholder Scheme
Minutes from October’s meeting
 

November’s open meeting rescheduled & next meeting date
We were due to have a second Open Meeting this month.  This has now been re-scheduled to Tuesday, 17th January (at the usual time of 6.45pm) to take into account revised policy work that Camden have agreed to undertake.  There will be a presentation and update regarding Major Works, taking into account feedback from the Forum.  Given October’s meeting, it may be rather lively, but hopefully informative.

For Tuesday, 29th November, instead of the open meeting, we will have a standard Leaseholders’ Forum meeting which will also complete agenda items that we ran out of time for in October; the agenda will be released to those who have subscribed for updates in due course (or you can download it here once published, typically 7 days in advance).  It will be at the usual time of 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall.
 

Leaseholders’ Forum survey – closing soon!
If we are to improve how Camden runs its works contracts, we need to be able to demonstrate that you think significant issues need to be changed.  If you have had Major or Capital Works to your property IN THE LAST 3 YEARS, please complete the survey at http://tinyurl.com/clf-survey2016 by 30th November. Forward the survey on to fellow Camden Council leaseholders you know.  We are aiming to feed in this feedback into January’s Housing Scrutiny Committee meeting on leaseholder issues.
 

Councillor Pat Callaghan’s Surgery (Saturday, 19th November)
On Saturday, 19th November from 10am, Councillor Pat Callaghan (Cabinet Member for Housing and Deputy Leader for Camden Council) will be holding a leaseholder-specific surgery at Camden Town Hall (in Committee Room 3A). No appointment necessary – first come, first served from 10am onwards. If you have unresolved queries and issues, this might be a good opportunity to air your case.
 

Reminder: Key Leaseholder Scheme
On a quarterly basis, Camden Leaseholder Services send members of this scheme details of repairs Camden plans to recharge when the actual adjustment is issued. Members can then review the repairs for their block/estate and forward to leaseholder services any queries they may have for investigation prior to the actual adjustment being issued.

The aim is to reduce the volume of queries to be investigated, making things easier for everyone.

If you would like to join the Key Leaseholder Scheme, contact leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk and provide your full name, email address and the address of your leasehold property asking to be added to the scheme.

You can also see the final list of recharged day-to-day repairs via the Camden Account at https://contact.camden.gov.uk/
 

Minutes
The draft minutes for October’s meeting have now been published and are available at:
http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=382&MId=5724&Ver=4

If you would prefer to see the easy to read PDF version, you can do so here:
http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/documents/g5724/Public%20minutes%2018th-Oct-2016%2018.45%20Leaseholders%20Forum.pdf?T=11

p.s. For all the news straight away (and other stories from other stories that we think might be of interest), follow us on Twitter! @CLForum
 

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Advice surgery with Councillor Pat Callaghan

A mini news update:

We have just been informed that Councillor Pat Callaghan (Cabinet Member for Housing and Deputy Leader for Camden Council) will be running a leaseholder-specific surgery this Saturday, 5th November (tomorrow!) from 10am at Camden Town Hall (in Committee Room 3A). No appointment necessary – first come, first served. If you have unresolved queries and issues, this might be a good opportunity to air your case.

There will also be a second leaseholder-specific surgery on Saturday, 19th November (again in Committee Room 3A) from 10am if you cannot attend tomorrow.

p.s. For all the news straight away (and other stories from other stories that we think might be of interest), follow us on Twitter! @CLForum
 

That’s all for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Planning Changes – be alert! Forum survey; Open meeting this month; Lots happening!!

Welcome to October’s newsletter. Suddenly, there are loads of things to keep you informed about.

Camden planning notices: significant changes (a genuine “must” read!)
Forum survey: your input required
Open meeting this month on Major Works: have your say
The lowdown on gas/heating pricing in Camden
Update on the Leaseholder Surgeries: need questions answered?, this may help
National Tenant Engagement Standards launched
Our Autumn newsletter
Meetings dates for 2017
Self-promotion: Our discussion boards are going from strength to strength!
 

Camden planning notices: significant changes
From 1st October 2016 Camden Council has stopped sending letters to neighbouring properties about planning applications. They have replaced them with the following:
– Site notices;
– Email alerts (perhaps the best option) and covering planning applications within 500 metres of your property, or for specific wards. Alerts cover new applications, decisions, and appeals with direct links to the application details, documents and drawings. You can set them up at http://camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/environment/planning-and-built-environment/planning—email-alerts/;
– the planning section on your Camden Account
– press adverts in the Camden New Journal and the Ham & High;
– an online map showing all applications received in the last 7 days: http://gis.camden.gov.uk/geoserver/PlanningApplication.html
 

Forum survey: your input required
If we are to improve how Camden runs its works contracts, we need to be able to demonstrate that you think significant issues need to be changed. If you have had Major or Capital Works to your property IN THE LAST 3 YEARS, please complete the survey at http://tinyurl.com/clf-survey2016 by 30th November. Forward the survey on to fellow Camden Council leaseholders you know.
 

Open meeting: have your say
Our meeting scheduled on Tuesday, 18th October at 6.45pm in the Town Hall will be about the new Major Works consultation process, with a presentation from the relevant officer. Want to have your say? Please come and we will adopt an open meeting structure to allow more discussion. Councillor Pat Callaghan (Cabinet Member for Housing and Deputy Leader) will also be present.

The Forum retains the right to call open meetings notably in November; given all the issues around savings, we may well call one to discuss that issue.
 

The lowdown on gas/heating pricing in Camden
We get a number of queries about gas pricing, and Camden is about to re-tender its gas contract. It will need to apply for a new dispensation from the LVT to do so.

We will be arranging Forum meetings, but it is a complex area and there is little information easily accessible, so we’ve decided to delve into a little bit of history to provide some background about the causes of the current situation. Want to know more? Here’s the guide: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/guides/gas-pricing/

Keep an eye on our agenda for any updates. n.b. the previous dispensation was LON/00AG/LDC/2010/0104.
 

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. Check out the dates later in this newsletter and book your appointment via leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk.
 

National Tenant Engagement Standards launched
New national tenant engagement standards have been launched at http://www.tpas.org.uk/tpas-news/tpas-launch-new-national-standards. Camden Council contributed, so do feel free to check that they are following their own recommended best practice!
 

Our Autumn newsletter
Our Autumn newsletter recently went out to all 10,000 leaseholders. Missed your copy within the bundles of paper? You can have a read here.
 

Meetings for 2017
Our meetings for the rest of this year and next year have now been confirmed as follows:
– Tuesday, 18th October 2016
– Tuesday, 29th November 2016
– Tuesday, 17th January 2017
– Tuesday, 21st March 2017
– Tuesday, 23rd May 2017
– Tuesday, 27th June 2017
– Tuesday, 12th September 2017
– Tuesday, 24th October 2017
– Tuesday, 28th November 2017

As ever, do check nearer the time as occasionally meetings have to be re-arranged due to member or room availability issues.
 

Self-promotion: Discussion Boards
Our discussion boards are going from strength to strength. People have been asking questions about subletting, seeking out the real world experience on making alterations to their homes and querying how to challenge major work bills – and getting answers! If you want to ask questions, join in the discussion or just have a daily or weekly digest of the collective wisdom, then sign up here: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/sign-up/
 

p.s. For all the news straight away (and other stories from other stories that we think might be of interest), follow us on Twitter! @CLForum
 

That’s all for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

September date change; minutes from our meeting

Just two updates in this mini newsletter:

September’s meeting has now had its date changed. It was due to be on 6th September, but due to a meeting clash (with a DMC meeting scheduled on the same date), it has now been moved to 13th September at the usual time/place of 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall. Leaseholder Services will be emailing anyone who had booked an advice clinic if it is required to change their slot.

The minutes for the last meeting have now been published and are available at: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=382&MId=5722&Ver=4

If you would prefer to see the easy to read PDF version with all the reports included, you can do so here: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/documents/g5722/Printed%20minutes%2028th-Jun-2016%2018.45%20Leaseholders%20Forum.pdf?T=1

p.s. For all the news as it happens (and other stories from other stories that we think might be of interest), follow us on Twitter! @CLForum

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up. You can also adjust your own preferences by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

More Drop-in Sessions announced! Also improvements to Works repayment options

Just two important updates for this mini newsletter:  Drop-In Sessions and Major/Capital Works repayments (including news of a 5% discount available to live-in leaseholders).
 

    ALTERATION: Please note that the Drop In session on Tuesday, 28th June, has now moved from Committee Room 4 to Committee Room 2.  The Leaseholders’ Forum Meeting itself has not changed and will be taking place in the Council Chamber at 6.45pm.

 

More Drop-In Sessions announced!
Following the successful pilot drop-in last month (as confirmed by the leaseholders attending), Leaseholder Services have extended their pilot: this is a new scheme whereby you can discuss problems with your service charge bill, in person, with members of the Leaseholder Services team at the Town Hall.

Some people dislike the Contact Camden call centre, and others are confused by paperwork in the post, so we hope that this new offering will help explain bills and resolve outstanding issues. Email leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk to reserve your slot. The session is from 5.30pm to 6.30pm, Tuesday, 28th June in Committee Room*2*. There is also a session from 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday, 6th September if those timings work better for you.

Points to remember:
– This pilot scheme does not cover Major Works or repair issues as those are looked after by different departments.
– Really observant folk might notice that these sessions are on the same nights as Leaseholders’ Forum meetings; why not pop along to the Council Chamber once you’re done, to see what we are up to? Our meetings start at 6.45pm and observers are welcome.
– The new Service Charge guide, written with our input, is a vast improvement over previous available information and may answer some of your questions.
 

Major/Capital Works repayments (much more flexibility including 5% discount now available!)
At the last Leaseholders’ Forum meeting there was an update on repayment options for Major and Capital Works schemes for those living in their property; these repayment options are only available for new Works schemes (not existing ones, sorry!).

– The maximum interest free credit period has been extended from three to five years and there are now more flexible arrangements for those who were struggling to make payments.
– There are now longer repayment options and leaseholders can opt to pay over 25 years, but interest is payable in these cases and it may be that leaseholders can get a better deal through their mortgage lender.
– There is also a hardship scheme where leaseholders can defer payment and the debt will sit as a charge on the property, with interest charged at 3.13%.
– A discount for prompt payment has also been introduced: those that pay in full once the works are "on site" will receive a 5% discount.
– These new options are being bought in as court and administrative costs could mount up. Explaining the thinking behind the new options, Camden’s Head of Leaseholder Services said "[it is] often better to make sensible arrangements like interest free credit. The courts also expected councils to make such arrangements."
– Commercial landlords (those renting properties out) are expected to pay in full as the intention is to help those that are resident in their properties (and this policy has been agreed by Camden Council’s Cabinet).
– The repayment guide is now being revamped in line with the above (and the Leaseholders’ Forum will have input to try to ensure that it is as easily digestible as possible!).
– Full details (well, as much as are currently available) are available here.
 

Next meeting
Our next meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 28th June at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE; observers are always welcome. The next open meeting will be later in 2016.
 

p.s. For all the news as it happens (and other stories from other stories that we think might be of interest), follow us on Twitter! @CLForum

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up. You can also adjust your own preferences by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Service Charges – new pilot scheme! Better Homes pipeline revealed; plus more!

Our new Forum members are settling in and this newsletter describes some exciting new developments. It covers:

Problems with Service Charge bills? New, trial, “drop in” sessions!
New Service Charge Guide
Do you want to contact your Leaseholder Services officer?
Forthcoming Major Works – are you affected?
Major Works – you can fight and win your corner
Missed our Spring newsletter?
Camden Council Leader election – the result!
Next meeting
Tweet us!
 

Problems with Service Charge bills? New, trial “drop in” sessions!
Together with Leaseholder Services, we’re launching a new pilot scheme whereby you can discuss problems with your service charge bill with members of the Leaseholder Services team at the Town Hall.

Some people dislike the Contact Camden call centre, and others are confused by paperwork in the post, so we hope that this new offer will help explain bills and resolve outstanding issues. Email leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk to reserve your slot at the first session from 6pm to 7.15pm on Tuesday, 17th May in committee room 3A. The second session is provisionally scheduled for 6pm to 7.15pm on Tuesday, 28th June.

Three additional, but important, points:
– This pilot scheme does not cover Major Works or repair issues as those are looked after by different departments.
– Really observant folk might notice that these sessions are on the same nights as Leaseholders’ Forum meetings; why not pop along to the Council Chamber once you’re done, to see what we are up to? Our meetings start at 6.45pm and observers are welcome.
– The new Service Charge guide, written with our input, is a vast improvement over previous available information and may answer some questions. You can download it here.
 

Do you want to contact your Leaseholder Services officer?
Each area has an officer in Leaseholder Services officer to deal with your Service Charge queries (e.g. repairs charges incorrectly allocated to your property). There are currently plans afoot to get this information published on the Camden Account website, but in the meantime here is the current list (as of February 2016).
 

Forthcoming Major Works – are you affected?
We’ve now got the list of potential schemes for Better Homes and the Council’s Spring Clean programme for April 2016 to March 2017. There are more potential schemes listed than the budget will cover, so have a look through and, if you’ve got strong feelings that you want a scheme included or excluded, now is perhaps the time to ask! Budgets are shrinking so there’s no guarantees for 2017/18. Feedback to your TRA/Leaseholders’ Association or directly to AssetTeam@camden.gov.uk. This does not include all schemes (such those run via Major/Capital Works).
 

Major Works – you can fight and win your corner
Case study: Last year, Mortimer Close and Hillgrove Estate leaseholders learned Camden would install external wall cladding costing £7k-£20k each. They lobbied, petitioned and provided a technical surveyor’s report stating that the cladding was unsuitable: it wouldn’t save on costs and would cause problems such as damp. Camden have backed down, in our opinion proving the success of team-working and independent professional work.
 

Missed our Spring newsletter?
Our newsletter went out with the estimated Service Charge statements to all leaseholders in Camden – if you missed it, whilst wading through the thickets of paperwork, why not read it now?
 

Camden Council Leader Election – the results!
Following this week’s leadership challenge at Labour’s AGM, Sarah Hayward remains Leader of the Council for another year, and we await news of any changes to the Cabinet.
 

Our meetings
We meet about every 6 weeks, the next date being Tuesday, 17th May at 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall in the Council Chamber. Our next “open” meeting will be later this year (date being finalised currently).

Our agendas are typically published a week before the meetings; to sign up for notifications about this and also to receive the minutes, sign up to our mailing list.
 

Tweet us!
And finally: we’re now on Twitter. Follow us @CLForum. We’re also happy to take suggestions on who to follow.
 

That’s all for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Your new Forum, TRA websites, planning applications and lots more!

As ever, we’re pleased to say that there’s a lot going on at the Forum right now. Welcome to the November newsletter!

Introducing your new Forum
Next meeting (important update)
Draft minutes from September’s meeting
Councillor Pat’s open surgery kicks off!
Want a TRA website?
Our archives are now online
Planning applications
Houses of Multiple Occupation (and flats too!) – an update
Have a small maintenance job?
Resident participation consultation (response required by 20th November)
Scholarship?
 

Introducing your new Forum
Following elections over the Summer, the Forum members met informally in October. Peter Wright, chair of the 2012-2015 Forum notes: “Of the 19 positions, we have 10 new members, 9 who have been members before. 15 live on estates or in a large block; 4 live in a street property (‘converted house split into flats’). One is a buy-to-let landlord, and one is a freeholder paying service charges. Every type of leaseholder in fair proportion to the total is there, which is a really good place to start from.” As another member noted at our last meeting “We’re all here to represent our fellow leaseholders and do the best we can.”

To see who our current Forum are, we’ve now uploaded member elections statements to our website: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/core/biographies
 

Next meeting (important update)
As the 2015-2018 Forum is still in the process of settling in and establishing itself, the Open Meeting scheduled for 24th November has been postponed. Instead there will be a regular Forum meeting with observers welcome on the same date (Tuesday, 24th November) at 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE.

If you want to receive an agenda in advance of the meeting, make sure your preferences are up to date by clicking on the “preferences” link at the end of this newsletter.
 

Draft minutes from September’s meeting
The draft minutes from our meeting of 15th September are now available online.
 

Councillor Pat’s open surgery kicks off!
Councillor Pat (Deputy Leader and Camden’s Cabinet Member for Housing) will now host “surgeries” in the Council Chamber from 6pm on days when there is a Leaseholders’ Forum meeting, to discuss individual issues related to housing. The first surgery will be on 24th November. No need for pre-booking.
 

Want a TRA website?
Camden Council now have a facility to support TRAs in setting up their own websites. It’s the same service that we used when we moved from “We are Camden” over to our own website.

We’re not going to claim it’s the speediest service, but it’s free and it deals with all the hassles of get websites registered and organised in the first place. One particularly excellent example is Kilburn Vale Estate: http://www.kilburnvaleestate.org.uk/ – as ever the more work that goes into thinking about what you want your website to have, the better the result will be.

For more details about this scheme (which doesn’t extend to Leaseholders’ Associations/RTAs), please contact Tenants Participation: tp@camden.gov.uk
 

Our archives are now online
The final Forum-specific announcement is that all the Forum’s papers from its foundation in 1996 are now online: http://tinyurl.com/forumpapers
 

Planning applications
There is a new e-mail alert system for planning applications to Camden from your neighbourhood. You can sign up for alerts at http://camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/environment/planning-and-built-environment/planning—email-alerts/
 

Houses of Multiple Occupation (and flats too!) – an update
Camden Council have recently introduced new licensing arrangements properties that are classed as “HMOs” – where three or more persons (including children) live in one property. These licensing arrangements will have a great impact on some landlords/properties.

The HMO licensing team is now up and running. If you have any queries (or referrals) regarding the new arrangements, the team can now be contacted on hmolicensing@camden.gov.uk or 020 7974 5969. There is also more information on the Camden Council website: https://camden.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/housing/private-rented-housing/landlords/houses-in-multiple-occupation/
 
Have a small maintenance job?
The Forum have in the past asked Camden Council about the possibility of extending the whole portfolio of repairs services to leaseholders as well as tenants. We continue to ask to see if this is feasible but in the meantime Camden bought the following to our attention which may be of benefit to leaseholders:

Origin Housing have recently launched a Handyperson service, called Handy Heroes. It’s a handy person service for residents of Camden and is aimed at professional residents. Origin Housing already provide a handyperson service for over 55’s and disabled residents but this is a new service to help those who do not meet those criteria. More information can be found here: https://www.originhousing.org.uk/customers/repairs-and-maintenance/handyperson/handy-heroes
 

Resident participation consultation (response required by 20th November)
Every 3 years Camden Council needs to agree their approach to tenant participation and there are consultation exercises around this. They have produced a Draft Resident Participation Strategy 2016-19 and asking people to look at this and then fill out a survey. The survey closes on 20th November.
 

Scholarship?
Camden Council’s Economic Development team has negotiated a range of part and fully-funded scholarships with Hult International Business School and Anglia Ruskin University London for Camden residents of all ages. The Scholarships give Camden residents the opportunity to study at vastly reduced rates or in some cases for free – the Hult Bachelor of Business Administration degree is worth £90,000.

The closing date is 4th April 2016. For more information and how to apply please see http://www.camden.gov.uk/camdenscholarships
 

That’s all for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Head of Major Works answers questions and much more!

Welcome to our September newsletter. Lots going on at the moment, so here’s a real smörgåsbord, with something of interest for everyone:

Major Works consultations: Questions and answers
Communal Repairs alerts
Open Surgeries with Councillor Pat Callaghan
Building Cladding issues & our lively discussion board (have you signed up yet?)
Heating/Hot Water options
September “Actual” Statements & our Autumn newsletter
Forum elections update
Open Forum meeting
 

Major Works
Stephen Platt, Head of Planned Works at Camden Council, will be appearing at the next Leaseholders’ Forum meeting, to describe current policies and answer questions from the Leaseholders’ Forum. Do come along and, subject to time constraints, let your views be known! The meeting is at 6.45pm, Tuesday, 15th September at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE.
 

Communal Repairs alerts
The status of communal alerts can now be checked online: https://contact.camden.gov.uk/communal-repairs-statuses-subscription/

At the bottom of the same page there is the option for signing up for text or email alerts, so you get informed whenever there is a new communal repair raised.

p.s. Due to the way these items are initially logged, you are also likely to see some items that are then re-assigned and won’t end up on your repairs bill, so don’t worry about seeing erroneous/wrongly categorised faults with these particular alerts.
 

Open Surgeries with Councillor Pat Callaghan
Councillor Pat Callaghan (new Cabinet Member for Housing) will be hosting “surgeries” for leaseholders to discuss individual issues before each Leaseholders’ Forum main meeting, starting in November. More details will be available nearer the time.
 

Building Cladding issues & our lively discussion board
A number of blocks are currently undergoing consultation regarding cladding for their building. This has caused a lively discussion on our discussion boards including tips and shared knowledge. For more information please see: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/discussion-board/

To sign up for our discussion board and get alerts regarding new posts please visit: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/sign-up/

We have also been working on a new system to tailor your notifications about new posts, so you can choose whether to have them instantly, daily or weekly. We expect this to be up and running within the next two weeks and will email Discussion Board users once it is live.
 

Heating/Hot Water options
The council’s latest heating and hot water policy is out (technically it is an “appraisal brief”); it lists the considerations the Council must go through before upgrading or replacing heating and hot water systems. If you are currently undergoing such a scheme, then this is the document for you!
 

September “Actual” Statements
Camden Council’s “actual” leaseholder statements, containing the adjustment for last year’s (2014-15) service charges are now in the post and should be arriving on your doormat shortly. It also includes our Autumn newsletter – to read it in advance please see: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/150901-newsletter.pdf
 

Forum elections
We are pleased to announce that the three yearly Forum elections process has gone very well. There are five districts (Camden Town, Holborn, Gospel Oak, Hampstead and Kentish Town) and in both Camden Town and Hampstead more people applied than there were places available. Leaseholders in those those districts will get ballot papers through the post with more information and full instructions on how to vote for up to five preferred candidates.
 

Open Meeting
Following on from the elections there will be an Open Meeting at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 24th November. As well as members voting for the new Chair and Vice Chair of the Forum, they will be hearing leaseholders’ (your!) priorities for the next 3 years in relation to what the Forum should do.
 

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Final Call for Leaseholder Elections! (also agenda for next meeting)

Just a short bulletin this time round as we wanted to remind everyone of the deadline for new member applications for the Forum. A more lengthy newsletter is in the works.

In this edition:
* Last Call – New Members wanted for the Forum (deadline 31st July)
* New Website and Email Address
* Minutes from previous meeting (16th June)
* Agenda for next meeting (28th July)
 

Last Call – New Members wanted for the Forum

Are you a Camden Council leaseholder (or freeholder paying Camden service charges)? Do you want to change how Camden Council treats its leaseholders? Stand for Camden Leaseholder Elections and meet senior officers and Councillors regularly to discuss issues and propose improvements.

Elections happen every three years, so there are seats for new members, as well as for those wanting to return. Interested?

To stand, email your name, Camden leasehold address, email address and reasons why you are standing (up to 100 words) to tp@camden.gov.uk . Closing date is 31st July. For lots more information please visit https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk or call 020 7974 7056.
 

New Website and Email Address

The Forum’s website has recently been relaunched and is now up and running.

We have a series of useful guides on issues such as:
* how to form a Leaseholders’ Association if you are living in a block or an estate and the benefits of doing so
* how to buy the freehold of your property
* understanding the complaints process
* …and many more. For more information and to see the new website go to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk and click on “Guides”.

There is also a Discussion Board to so you can ask questions and discuss with fellow leaseholders as well as the option to sign up to the Forum’s newsletter. If you want to receive updates when there are new discussions you’ll have to register for this.
 

Minutes from previous meeting (16th June)

The draft Leaseholders’ Forum meeting minutes of 16th June are now available at: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=382&MId=5315&Ver=4
 

Agenda for next meeting (28th July)

The meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 28th July at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE; observers are always welcome. The next open meeting will be later in 2015.

The agenda is available at: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=382&MId=5316&Ver=4
 

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up. You can also adjust your own preferences by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

New Website and Email Address

In this edition:
New Website and Email Address
Seeking Concerned Leaseholders!
Next Meeting
 

New Website and Email Address
Starting today, we have a new website and new email address! The old website (www.wearecamden.org/leaseholders) and email address (leaseholdersforum@wearecamden.org) have been discontinued.

New website: www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk
New email address: camden@leaseholdersforum.org.uk

All the old content has been copied across and the layout improved. Hopefully everything will be easier to find (including our much appreciated “Guides” series). We are still bedding in some of the finer details so you may find changes in layout over the next week or so.

Unfortunately it was not possible to copy across our old Discussion Board, but why not sign up and start a new discussion instead? By signing up you will also get automatic notifications when there are new posts.

As ever, all feedback is welcome – especially if you find that any of the links aren’t working!

p.s. We fully appreciate the timing and smoothness of the transition between the old and the new website could have been much better – unfortunately some of these factors (but not all) have been outside our control.
 

Seeking Concerned Leaseholders!
Read our Chair’s letter which was published in this week’s Camden New Journal (unfortunately with an old website link, corrected in the text below)

Every three years I seek Camden Council leaseholders who are concerned; concerned about what Camden is doing and concerned enough to want to help improve the situation. That is because the Camden Leaseholders Forum is about to be re-elected; it is the only such Camden body where every member stands down for re-election in this way. And, although we have done well in retaining current members for their three-year term, there are spaces for new members even if every existing one stood and was re-elected.

Detractors ask if we achieve anything, and I will list just two things from this term which particularly please me.

Cllr Phil Jones wrote to the press on June 8 about HS2 saying “Camden does have a plan to help the council tenants affected… all council tenants and resident leaseholders displaced by HS2 will have a new flat built, meeting their needs, that will be ready to move into before HS2 begin to demolish homes”. I am grateful to him and his colleagues but that is not where we started from; compulsory purchase plus 10 per cent capped was the position for leaseholders we successfully argued against. Be assured we will go on arguing for more…

Secondly we are involved in the major re-procurement of the capital building programme contractors. I was able to nominate three leaseholders to be part of the process, all with relevant skills to contribute which the council in-house team does not have. They are having an impact on that process which cannot but be valuable.

Find out more here.

Nominations close on July 31.

PETER WRIGHT
Chair, Camden Leaseholders Forum
 

Next Meeting
The next meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 28th July at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE; observers are always welcome. The agenda will be published nearer the time and be available via our website.
 

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up. You can also adjust your own preferences by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.

Stand for the Forum and ask questions at Camden Council!

Election time! Do you want to represent Leaseholders?

“The Forum chosen three years ago has worked well for you.  The commitment of our new members changed policy in Camden for the better.  Individual members took personal interests in heating systems, regeneration, procurement for repairs and major works or even, recently, parking. Camden Council has been made to pay attention and we’ve changed policy and working practices on the ground.  Many of you have come with problems, and have attended our ‘open meetings’ where you can question senior officers and councillors. Most members had little experience before joining the Forum but, coming together regularly and supporting each other, we have been able to improve our lot.” Peter Wright, current Chair of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum

Every 3 years we all stand down and there are elections for all 25 places; usually (as now) there are free spaces after three years anyway for new members to join.  Do you want to stand? Read on for more information and eligibility criteria.
 

What is the Forum?
– How to apply
– Who can stand? (eligibility criteria)
– What’s required?
– Further information
– What’s next?
– Any queries
 

What is the Forum
The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and also freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. It scrutinises Camden Council proposals, examines working practices and lobbies on behalf of leaseholders to Camden officers, councillors and tenants.  The Forum is independent; it sets its own agenda.  It retains rights to meet without anyone from Camden Council, as well as to arrange open meetings which any leaseholder may attend and address.
 

How to apply
Send the following details

  1. Name of the person being nominated (this may be either yourself or someone else who is agreeable to stand)
  2. Camden address of the nominated person – this will be checked to show liability to pay service charges to Camden Council
  3. If the person nominating is different from the nominated person, then the nominating person’s Camden address is also required, as they must also pay service charges to Camden Council
  4. Nominated person’s email address
  5. Nominated person’s phone number
  6. Personal Statement of up to 100 words (reasons why the nominated person is standing)

email to: tp@camden.gov.uk
or post to Graeme Beedham, Head of Tenant & Leaseholder Engagement, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE.

CLOSING DATE FOR NOMINATIONS IS 31st July 2015.
 

Who can stand? (eligibility criteria)
Forum representatives must be over 18 and leaseholders of Camden Council residential property (or freeholders of ex-Camden Council properties liable to pay service charges to Camden). Camden employees and serving Councillors are not eligible to stand for election.
 

What’s required?
The main requirement is to turn up to regular Forum meetings.  The current Forum meets every 6 weeks (usually on a Tuesday evening at 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall).
 

Further Information
There’s lots more information on our website about the Leaseholders’ Forum but you might like to start with our “About Us” document which details what the current Leaseholders’ Forum has been getting up to for the last 3 years.  Perhaps most useful are the constitutioncode of conduct, and the personal statements from those who currently represent you on the Forum.
 

What’s next?
The 25 available places are divided up into 5 districts of 5 places each.  The districts are Camden Town, Gospel Oak, Hampstead, Holborn and Kentish Town.  No district can elect more than 5 people.  If more than 5 people do stand for a particular district (which doesn’t always happen), ballot papers will be sent out with Camden Council’s September service charge statements.  Applicants who meet the appropriate criteria and stand in areas where there are not more than 5 candidates will be elected automatically.

All applicants will be contacted before the first meeting of the new Camden Leaseholders’ Forum.  The first meeting will be an introductory session on 24th November 2015 at 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall for the newly elected Forum members to meet each other and then to hear from Mike Edmunds about Camden Council Leaseholder Services.
 

Any queries
You can either post these to our online discussion group so current members can respond, or contact Graeme Beedham (Head of Tenant & Leaseholder Engagement at Camden Council) on 020 7974 7056.

We also have Camden Leaseholders’ Forum meetings on and 16th June and 28th July (both at 6.45pm at Camden Town Hall).  If you are still unsure as to whether you want to apply, you can always apply and then attend the meeting to find out more.

ps. We would also like to thank Camden Council who have agreed to act on our behalf for the election process.
 

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

Leaseholder FAQs, Parking, WeAreCamden revamp (and more!)

It’s been a few months since the last update so we now have a broad selection of articles which will hopefully be of interest to all…

Leaseholders FAQs
Estate Parking
WeAreCamden Website Revamp
Heating Meters
Improvements
Service Charges
Cabinet Member for Housing Julian Fulbrook
Spring Newsletter
Next Meeting Date

Leaseholders’ FAQs
Camden Council have recently published a fairly useful set of Rights and Responsibilities. Amongst other things it lists what sorts of repairs are the leaseholders’ responsibility and what type of repairs are the Council’s. Other leasehold-related FAQs can be found here.

Estate Parking
Camden Council have recently tried to limit residents to two parking permits per property, for estates with dedicated parking, regardless of the number of people living within the property or the needs of those residents. We are currently vigorously opposing how this has been implemented – if you are affected please let us know.

WeAreCamden Website Revamp
WeAreCamden (including our website) is currently getting an overhaul. If you have any suggestions over new content or changes we can include in the Leaseholders section now is the time to get in touch.

Heating Meters
Forthcoming works: New legislation implementing an EU Directive means that Camden Council must record heating usage at block level (rather than just estate level) and also investigate the viability of installing individual heating meters in properties that currently don’t have them. Inevitably the cost of installation will be passed on to leaseholders as appropriate, but on the (small) upside of this will mean that bills will be more accurate. Camden Council are now assessing their housing stock to see which properties will be affected.

Improvements
A recent ruling by the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), the new name and format for what was the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) has clarified that landlords are responsible for repairs, but improvements that exceed the cost of necessary repairs, need to take into account the interests of the leaseholders (e.g. whether they could afford them) and give greater weight to the views of the leaseholders – that is to say that there should be a greater discussion between leaseholders and the landlord as to whether improvements take place and the extent of the improvements.

Service Charges 
The Competitions and Markets Authority has published a report into service charges. It notes poor leaseholder satisfaction levels with local authority leasehold management. It makes a number of recommendations, largely about improving information on charges and leaseholder obligations. It suggests leaseholders should have greater powers to enforce a change of manager, but it is not clear if they mean this to extend to local authorities. The main proposal is to seek government review of the section 20 process for consulting about works, at the behest of property managers who think the current requirements too onerous. Should such a review occur, we will need to be ready to feed views in so do feel free to get your thinking caps on!

Cabinet Member for Housing Julian Fulbrook
Many of you will know Julian Fulbrook, who has been Cabinet member for Housing since Labour regained a majority on Camden Council on 6th May 2010. He has had a long career as a Councillor, with previous spells running housing, and has always been hard-working and accessible. He has emailed many leaseholders directly, regularly sorting out issues. Julian has announced that he will not be standing for another year on Cabinet, so we will have a new Cabinet Member appointed by the Leader of the Council on 20th May. We wish him well for the future.

Spring Newsletter
Our Spring newsletter was recently sent out with the Estimated Service Charges. If you missed it, you can have a read here.

Next Meeting Date
The next Forum meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 5th May 2015 at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE; observers are always welcome. The next open meeting and AGM will be later this year.

That’s it for now!
Paul Ginsberg
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk

If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.

The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.