Major Works 2017/18 Bill Extortionate

This topic contains 16 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  alex 4 weeks, 1 day ago.

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
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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 5 months, 1 week 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…

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