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.

Major Works – Councillors want to hear from you! (and more…)

In this update:

Major Works and Leaseholder Services Charges – Councillors’ Scrutiny Committee
Interested in Solar Panel and PV Cells for your estate?
Minutes from November’s Forum Meeting
Next Meeting Date
 

Major Works and Leaseholder Services Charges – Councillors’ Scrutiny Committee

Camden Council’s Housing Scrutiny Committee are currently considering a report on major works, days to day repairs and service charges (amongst other matters). The report is available here.

If you want to submit any comments about the report then please provide these in writing to gianni.franchi@camden.gov.uk by 5th January as the committee would like to hear your views. There is also a meeting at 6.30pm on 14th January – if you would instead like to request to speak at the meeting, please contact the above email address by 13th January.
 

Interested in Solar Panel and PV Cells for your estate?

Camden Council-led “Camden Climate Change Alliance” is hosting an event that will bring together community groups (such as Leaseholder Associations and TRAs), businesses and others to explore and develop low carbon energy projects in Camden. The event will combine case studies, knowledgeable speakers, tools and support!

Although this meeting is an early part of the development process, it will showcase how community groups can get involved and explore financial benefits and carbon savings.

The event is on Wednesday, 28th January from 4pm to 8.30pm at Arup’s head office (nearest station: Warren Street). Sign up via Eventbrite. If you have any questions please email camdencca@camden.gov.uk or call 020 7974 3901.
 

Minutes from November’s Forum Meeting

These have now been published and are available at: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=382&MId=4948&Ver=4
 

Next Meeting Date

The next Forum meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 13th January (not 16th December as originally scheduled) at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE; observers are always welcome. The next open meeting and AGM will be during 2015.

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.

Leaseholders’ Forum meetings resume!

We are delighted to be able to say that Camden Council’s Democratic Services department have now resolved their resourcing issue (at least for the time being!) and we can continue our meetings. We thank everyone for their support regarding this issue.

The next meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 18th November at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE; observers are always welcome. The next open meeting and AGM will be in 2015.

The agenda is available at: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=382&MId=4948&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.

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.