Major Works 2017/18 Bill Extortionate

Camden Leaseholders’ Forum homepage Discussion Board Major Works + Estimates Major Works 2017/18 Bill Extortionate

This topic contains 31 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  Leighton Grove 4 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #4201

    cchill
    Participant

    Please help – I got a massive estimate of £13,000 (thirteen thousand) pounds for the Major Works for 17/18. I have a 368 sq ft small one-bed flat and I am an artist on low income/tax credits. In general I live simply and do any home improvements myself to keep costs down. I have written several emails to the Leaseholders Services and received no reply. The demand arrived on the 8 March (although the letter was dated the 25 Feb) and the first quarterly instalment is due 31 March. I’m in a panic and not able to sleep – and just so others are aware (please write to the Camden Leaseholders Service asap with your concerns if you agree) I am asking for a more reasonable demand from leaseholders, and also a 2-year payment plan option. I am also asking for a more detailed breakdown of costs. I am very experienced with building work and the costs look extremely high to me. I am concerned that with cutbacks the costs are being passed on to leaseholders – we are not cash-cows! This is extortionate and unfair. I am hoping Camden Council will respond. Watch this space!

    #4202

    jordan1980
    Participant

    Hi there – we too have had a huge £13k bill from them for work on our block on Highgate Road. I’ve already written and complained but been rebuffed by the inept staff at the council. I asked about the extremely high fees, especially the overheads and Indirect costs.

    I’ve also written to our local MP Kier Stramer and he’s been receptive to our case before. I suggest you do the same so he knows it’s a major issue for some of his constituents.

    Let me know how you get on.

    #4203

    jordan1980
    Participant

    Kier Stramers email is keir.starmer.mp@parliament.uk

    make sure you put your address on the email so he knows you’re in his borough

    #4204

    clareb
    Participant

    I have also been challenging a major works bill which was issued a few months ago in relation to works carried out in 2014. I was not notified about the works and knew nothing about it until after they were approved and when scaffolding went up.
    The whole process has shown me how dreadfully burocratic and inefficient leaseholder services is. They fire off paperwork and bills which are impenetrable and it’s very hard to get through to departments to get clarification.
    I have 2 fire assessment risk estimates on my account for £2000 and a disputed bill of £3000 for windows in another flat (which I wasn’t consulted on)- files of conflicting and confusing responses resulting from an original demand for £8000 which has now been reduced because they have admitted failure to consult on some aspects.
    The property is due for Major works for internal repairs in the next 12 months and I worry about the cost in view of the excessive costs billed so far for works and Day to day service charges (Which have been consistently double the estimates)

    I have now lodged a complaint with the tribunal. The council made out that if I took it the tbibhnal it would cost me more in costs than the demand, but I felt that I needed to stand up to them.

    I regret buying a Camden leasehold and would never do it again as there is no control on the excessive overheads and inefficient management.

    #4206

    jordan1980
    Participant

    Hi Clare B – as I mentioned to CCHil’s post, seeing as we’re all getting zero helpful response from Camden, i think a constructive course of action is to write to keir.starmer.mp@parliament.uk and voice our concerns.

    If enough of us do it, something will be mentioned to the council. I’ve already had correspondence back from him and he seems to understand our frustrations.

    #4205

    CSMedia
    Participant

    To concur with invoices sent without details of what the costs involve. It is noted that the council are now including major works as service charges so that our normal service charge for the year £2,700 is estimated this year at £7,759 (Due to works on Lifts) so £775 per month, this without any warning of the increase. Out of the blue, £775 instead of £270 per month.

    It is a scandal that needs exposure. To also note that the works done in 2014 with an estimate of £40,000 is still not concluded due to poor workmanship, so we are still waiting for remedial works on 120 flats in Bacton.

    Example

    A. The council fitted a brand new central heating system for an estimated £15,000 but is does not work because the thermostat was put on the same wall as the hot pipes instead of in the room. Not only that but because they did not follow fitment instructions it had to be redone…more expense.

    B. The old windows at BActon Tower Block were fine in our flat they just needed maintenance, rubber seals at best. These have been replaced for a quote of £24,000 but were damaged on fitment by the contractors and negligence of the site manager
    who insisted in removing protective covers. These sills were then damaged by masonry being swept off scaffolding above that bounced off the new sills and dented them (Health and Safety issues denied until video proven)

    The sills had to be replaced….but the site manager being indifferent then removed the protective covers off those and guess what, they were damaged again.

    C. We have requested invoices from the 2014 works but still have no indication what they will be, they were supposed to be offset by grants but we have heard nothing. The situation with Camden Council is nothing but a scandal as written proof and video can and will prove.

    #4208

    jordan1980
    Participant

    Aside from our broader concerns, I want to also get clarity on what exactly the details are on some of the listed costs we have been invoiced for. These include extortionate and vague fees for the blocks works such as:

    – Overhead fees for the works: £54,021.78 & £27,000.00
    – Major Works Supervision fees: £9000.00 & £3983.42
    – Contractor Central Overheads & Profit: £9073.38
    – Indirect Costs: £12,748.11 & £18,377.40

    There’s such a lack of clarity from the council on these costs and why the leaseholders seem to be being lumped with such huge sums. Most troubling are the indirect costs. According to one of the team at the Consultation Accounts team (who are responsible for suggesting and signing all off major works in the Borough), he stated they are the fees to cover his team of 18 people, their office space and overheads at the new Kings Cross office, but surely these costs are already covered by our council tax and annual service charge? If not, it means they need to find and commission major works to cover their overheads which would surely be a huge conflict of interest? He then back tracked and said it was just for ‘computers and posting stuff out’ which if true, seems a bit on the steep side and needs looking into regardless.

    It seems there’s no one at the council to really get a straight answer from or be accountable.

    #4209

    jordan1980
    Participant

    In addition to this was a charge of £140,000 for the scaffolding which after speaking to several people in the industry seems grossly over priced but we’re just meant to accept it and pay up.

    #4210

    camdentownie
    Participant

    I’m in dispute over the works on our new lift, which at best are shoddy at worst a Kings Cross disaster waiting to happen. Camden bully you into paying the money with the tactics of sending your details to the courts, whether you are in dispute or not. And of course there is the unresolved issue of the person signing off on the works being suspended for ‘allegedly’ taking backhanders. http://camdennewjournal.com/article/camdenhousingfraud?sp=1&sq=council%2520suspended I’ll try to post up an image of the lift shaft in question and leave it up to all who see it whether they think thwy would ride in this deathtrap. EMail Keir, he’s a good guy and came back to me pretty quickly. I suspect he may be keeping a file on all of this. We’re paying for the council’s chummy relationship with Lakehouse, we get the itemised bills to see they have paid, but how do wer really know. Bring back the tendering system I say.

    #4212

    elizabeattie
    Participant

    dear Jordon1980 and others, is Kier Stramers a representative for all of Camden, i am in Chalk Farm NW3 2EG?

    I recently bought my first flat on Maitland park villas and cannot not believe how bad the leasehold team are. I feel I have no rights and am just constantly paying up HUGE bills, bills that no one can budget for or accept to pay. Sadly I only think i’ll be able to live here for a little longer as I too got hit with an expected bill of £15k in major works…I mean that is a deposit on a flat. In the short 8 months i have been here I have already paid £8k, once of which I was told I had to back pay to before I moved in (apparently it was in my mortgage deal)…so £20k in 2 years all for works that don’t improve the quality of my flat

    I feel very disheartened as I thought my first flat would be a beacon of happiness (and expense but nothing like these unplanned bills).

    I too have questioned the high bills, but only ever received a response that ‘ a proper tender and RFP was undertaken’… we have no power!

    Any suggestions to help manage these bills, challenge them or at least demand better management support is welcome

    #4216

    5hp
    Participant

    Hi,

    We are hit with huge unreasonable bill of £15K. windows, roof, externals, totalling 2M for our block.
    Windows are just over 10 years old generally in pristine condition. Roof seams in good condition.
    Definitely there is something fishy about Camden with services charges and major works.

    There isn’t any cap as nothing is central government funded anymore so we will see more of these huge bills every couple of years,… next is heating as is just about 10 old then lift in couple of years time and then full circle again.

    One thing is clear that Camden is not doing these works for residents benefit!

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  5hp.
    #4223

    jordan1980
    Participant

    Hi Eliza – try this website to find you MP https://www.theyworkforyou.com

    I think it probably would be Kier and think you should definitely write to him asap with all your concerns. If enough of us make a noise something will have to be done. There’s enough annoyed people feeling like we’re being conned so we just need to try and make ourselves held.

    #4238

    Flyingdoctor
    Participant

    Similarly, we have received a notice for £13,000 worth of works in the coming year, a large part of which is for the roof, which we understand to be in good condition. I accept that going to the MP may be one route – but it is usually better to start with the local authority itself. Given that others have had trouble getting any decent information out of Camden, advice on who to approach would be gratefully received please.

    #4242

    oakshott
    Participant

    Try contacting our elected councillors. They have the power to bring about real change within the council, although it’s not easy even for them…

    Here’s the list and you can find your area’s councillors: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1

    #4272

    RosieM
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    We have just been told that our major works bill for £14,000 is now actually £22,000. I am absolutely gobsmacked by the increase in cost and I’m wondering if we have any recourse at all.

    Has anyone successfully taken them to tribunal? Or got anywhere at all with challenging these charges?

    I would be so grateful for your help!

    #4277

    MsMo
    Participant

    Hi,

    We are in the same situation at our small block in Kilburn. We had an estimated major works bill in March of about £3.5k, scaffolding went up, and on Tuesday a new consultation letter saying this estimate was to be ignored and the new one is £17k. I’m confused as to how they could have got the first estimate so very, very wrong. I am also concerned that many of the overhead, profit and indirect charges that seem to be very excessive and were much lower or not even mentioned in the first estimate. Then there’s the £1k ‘legal requirement’ for Fire Safety Risk, I have lived in my flat for 13 years and if this is a ‘legal requirement’ why is it only being addressed now and not even mentioned on the March estimate (Oh, yes, Grenfell).

    There is a consultation meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday that I am going to attend, does anyone have any tips on what to expect and how to deal with them?

    #4280

    alex
    Participant

    Challenge leaseholder services at leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk
    Then if answers are not clear forward to the Counsellor for housing: patricia.callaghan@camden.gov.uk
    In practice it is difficult to obtain anything before the final invoice for the works being issued (which can take months/years to materialize…)and then challenge the individual items e.g. scaffolding, management fees, etc…

    #4311

    emmajah
    Participant

    I have just received an additional bill for almost £3.9k on top of a £15k bill for works, which I was assured by a council employee would be capped at 15k. This is crazy and scary, as I am not earning and my budget has no leeway.

    I have written to keir.starmer.mp@parliament.uk, leaseholderservices@camden.gov.uk, patricia.callaghan@camden.gov.uk.

    Have any other leaseholders had a helpful reply from anyone?

    #4312

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

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

    #5150

    jgbcamden
    Participant

    Hi All,

    Sorry to re-ignite an old thread, but I wanted to find out whether you had any luck pushing back against your Major Works bill? I have just received a £14k notice of intention and am sweating bullets.

    Any lessons learned would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks.

    #5154

    Leighton Grove
    Participant

    Hi JGB, I have a £29k bill for forthcoming major works (after previously being fleeced by Camden 7 years ago for £5k for the worst work imaginable). When I got the first bill two years ago I started work on the matter, since then the bill jumped up from £22k to £29k and very little progress had been made.

    Dealing with regular staff at the Council in my experience is totally pointless.

    The first thing to do is dig into your bill. My £29k bill is mainly unspecified provisional costs (or unspecified work), work which simply cannot be done (for example, fire safety work in communal areas – but there are no communal areas) and the profits on top of that. You should check what your bill is for and if it seems like a reasonable cost for the work, and see for yourself if the work actually needs to be done.

    I have tried many things in the last 2 years. The bits that were helpful were looping in my MP and Councillor and taking it as high up inside council admin as possible. I contacted Leasholder Knowledge Forum who were helpful with a contact for a specialist solicitor.

    In my experience the work happens a lot later than they say it will…. also the consultation is a deliberate time wasting box ticking exercise. Don’t put any store in it.

    The stage I am hoping will work is the ‘validation’, after scaffolding goes up, allegedly an independent surveyor will check that all the work awarded by Camden to a newly formed Essex building company will be verified. Any works that are not needed will be removed from the bill at this stage.

    As I have no experience with validation it’s hard to tell if it will work. If it doesn’t I have a solicitor and surveyor lined up and will apply to the LVT immediately.

    Last time round was a con. The company Camden hired are marred in scandals in hackney and elsewhere. Camden sued them, but no information or benefits from their claim were passed on. They have subsequently awarded more vast contracts to the same firm.

    This time around I’m told that the systems have changed, but I’m braced for the quality of the work being as bad on this £29k job as on the £5k job a few years ago.cSo getting a realistic validation of the cost of works is only the set of it.

    #5155

    jgbcamden
    Participant

    Thank you for the considered reply and I’m sorry you’re continuing to be put through such an ordeal.

    I’ve done as you suggested and looked at the breakdown which arrived with the notice of intent. As you anticipated, there are certain things which don’t make sense (work in the lobby, although we don’t have a lobby) and several provisional costs on top of specified works. I’m going to ask for an even more detailed breakdown and push for a meeting with the contract manager – your suggestion of reaching out to the MP and Councillor is an excellent idea too.

    Thank you for your help.

    #5161

    ryanmatthews
    Participant

    Reading through all the comments I’m not clear what has worked and was the end result was for each case. Please advise with the regards to points below as I have the same issue!

    Did you challenge the estimated invoice or wait for works to complete with a final invoice before challenging? If stillwaiting for completion what is your plan to challenge?

    If challenging a final invoice for major works does it mean it can/should not be paid until you have agreed with the council about the amount due?

    What results occurred from contacting the MP/councillor(s)?

    Did you get the bill reduced, perhaps because the council made a procedural error, caved in or went to the First-tier Tribunal?

    If you didn’t go to the First-tier Tribunal, why not?

    If you did go to the First-tier Tribunal please share what happened.

    #5162

    Leighton Grove
    Participant

    For me, the end result of the c.£5k bill, years ago, was very poor work that was so bad the property was left in a worse state than before, lots of very heavy handed threats from the council and eventually an extra bill for £500, which after another year of arguing they wrote off.

    This time round the bill is huge and I knew what was coming. I am waiting for the ‘validation’ of the bill which was due to have happened already but scaffolding is now supposed going up 2 months behind schedule and validation will follow shortly after that (or so I am told).

    So after 2 years of wrangling I have the councillor, Mp and head of housing paying attention. A site visit from the council’s project managers has confirmed much of the work cannot be done or is pointless, and I have to wait for the validation to formally get the bill revised.

    If the bill is not revised to a sensible amount I will go to the the LVT with a solicitor and surveyor to get bill reduced by the tribunal.

    To me that will be stage one.

    Stage two will be the process and the quality of the works. The work was so painfully bad last time, it took a year instead of a few weeks and the communal areas of that property were trashed and never put right.

    Stage two will be making sure that the newly formed Essex builders who got the huge contract for all these works do a reasonable job in a reasonable time and do not damage my home.

    I’m two years in to my ‘stage one’, if I can help with anything please let me know.

    #5163

    MKBDWesthampstead
    Participant

    Hello all, I am in a similar situation with an extortionate and unjustified bill for major works. I have ocntacted a couple of specialist law firms that would be able to advise on how/whether to contest Camden’s charges. Their first consultation and review of Camden’s leaseholder agreement would cost about £1000. Any thoughts on whether this would be worth it? If so, it would be best if a few people in the same situation could share the costs. Does anyone know of people that have already sought legal advice or would be keen to do go collectively? Thanks very much

    #5166

    billmurray
    Participant

    Hi,
    It’s good that you raise this.
    We are not currently under the sword, having successfully rebuffed a major attack. But surely will be again soon.
    Yes the two things we all need are access to lawers and surveyors; and the barrier is the cost of these. We need some mechanism whereby resources are pooled at levels affordable to us. Our leases and the charges are largely common, so that there must be enormous savings in pooling. A few of us have shared the cost of a surveyor for our particular estate problems on a one-off basis. It would be good if the services were available on a Camden-wide retainer basis. However I don’t think we can manage to arrange this…..

    We have also found it very useful to involve Councillors and of course to work with affected tenants.

    #5170

    frederickprice
    Participant

    Hi, it might be worth reviewing the LEASE website and in particular their guides. Visit http://www.lease-advice.org.

    Regards.

    #5171

    frederickprice
    Participant

    You can also trawl the site for decisions. See for instance LON/00AG/LSC/2018/0043 – dated 23 November 2018 – on the Tribunal part of the LEASE website. From reading this sort of thing you can get an idea of the issues which arise, amounts at stake, lawyers involved, the approach taken, and so on.

    Regards.

    #5172

    jgbcamden
    Participant

    Leighton Grove – do you happen to have the name of the company (or parent/umbrella company) which Camden sued, only to award further contracts to them? It would be useful to know if they are the same one carrying out our work.

    I am going to the intial consultation this evening and would like to demonstrate early on that we have done our research and will not sit by passively.

    #5173

    Leighton Grove
    Participant

    Lakehouse

    Reporting of their current contract being awarded here

    Camden Council awards £350m London housing framework

    Google the Lakehouse / Hackney scandal

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