Edmundsbury Court Estate Tenants & Residents Association
Edmundsbury Community Hall, 171 Ferndale Road, London SW9 8FQ
Mon-Sun: 9am-10pm
22 Oct 2018

Edmundsbury BBQ 2018

This year we had a great time at the BBQ, there was a bouncy castle, giant connect4, Giant Jenga, Limbo, Tug of war and relay for all adults and children to participate. Everyone had a great time enjoying each others company but just having a time to socailise and meet new neighbours in some instance. We also had the presence of our local Counsillor Joshua Lindsey which we appreciate him taking the time out on a sunday afternoon to support our event.

We had an array of food from Vegan BBQ to your typical BBQ foods hotdogs and burgers, in addition to Jerk chicken and BBQ salmon. Food available for all to enjoy and for dessert Ice Cream, Cake and Watermelon.

A great day hope to see more residents and their families next year, if you have any ideas for a community event that you would like to lead on with the support of the TRA dont hesitate to get in touch and we can see what we can do.

22 Jul 2018

Edmundsbury Leaseholder Bills

Introduction

A few weeks before Christmas (2017) leaseholders on Edmundsbury Estate were sent bills for over £1,400 each from Lambeth Council for Major Works. The works were the installation of the door entry systems that were installed in 2013. Some leaseholders had been sent bills earlier in the year, not stating the nature of the works. Some leaseholders were reluctant to pay this bill as it was so old, some were tenants in 2013, not leaseholders, others didn’t live here in 2013. When we looked into it, we read under Section 20B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (the Act):

“if the freeholder incurs relevant costs that are more than 18 months old, then the freeholder is required to serve notice on the leaseholders in accordance with section 20B(2) informing them that they will be required to contribute towards these costs at some future time”

We understood from this, that in addition to the Council issuing a Section 20 Notice for expected costs of major works, then they have to charge leaseholders within 18 months or issue Leaseholders a Section 20B notice within that 18 months.

Many leaseholders didn’t pay this bill, a few set up to pay by instalments. In addition, whilst some leaseholders were told that they had to pay this bill into a separate account to their regular day-to-day service charges, other residents were told that their regular day-to-day service charges, that they had been paying for years by standing order, were not being paid. When they questioned this it appeared as if Lambeth Council had changed the account numbers so their regular service charges were paying for the Major Works – the bill that they had refused to pay.

Another leaseholder was accused of not paying previous year’s service charges, but no bill, receipt or evidence was forthcoming.

Jonathan Harbourne wrote on behalf of Edmundsbury Estate leaseholders (after emails from other leaseholders had not been responded to) to Chris Ojo from Homeowner Services seeking clarification. Our new Councillor, Cllr Irfan Mohammed, supported us by issuing a ‘Member’s Enquiry’ – so that an Officer would be compelled to respond to our questions.

 

Letter and Response

Original Letter sent from Edmundsbury Estate to Leaseholder Services
Sent:
27 June 2018 17:39

Dear Chris Ojo, Lambeth Council Homeowner Services

I understand that Tim, the acting chair of the Edmundsbury Leaseholders Group, has invited you to meet the leaseholders of Edmundsbury Court Estate on any Monday evening at our community hall. I understand that he hasn’t received a reply yet.

We have our next Quarterly Residents Meeting on
Monday 23rd July 7-9pm, Edmundsbury Community Hall
and warmly invite you to attend.

If not, the original invitation of any Monday evening before August is still open!

There are some common questions that leaseholders are asking – as certain people have been given different information.

1a. In respect the 2013 intercom replacement bill that Edmundsbury Leaseholders received in November 2017:
Works must be invoiced to leaseholders within 18 months of the freeholder incurring the cost.
• What date did you become contractually required to make payment to the contractor – can you produce the bill?
• Why did you wait 4 years to invoice Leaseholders?
1b. Did you, within the period of 18 months beginning with the date when the relevant costs in question were incurred, notify the leaseholders in writing that those costs had been incurred and that they would subsequently be required under the terms of their lease to contribute to them by the payment of a service charge?
• If you did – can you produce the communication.

2a. Please state which account number is for Major Works, and which account number is for regular annual service charges.
2b. Leaseholders have been accused of not paying their regular annual service charges by Lambeth, because their payments have been diverted into the Major Works Account.
Have you recently changed these account numbers around? How and when did you communicate this to Leaseholders?
2c. If leaseholders understood that they were paying their regular annual service charge, but because the account numbers were changed, the money has not gone to where they intended:
• What is the process for them to rectify this?
• How long does it take?
• What assurance can you give them that this has been rectified once and for all?

3. Leaseholders have been accused by Lambeth of not paying previous year’s bills in full.
No evidence, invoices or receipts, have been produced for these bills.
• Is this your normal practice?
• Can leaseholders expect details of apparent unpaid bills?

4. If a resident reports a problem with a building – the repair is prioritised but not repaired –
• what is the mechanism/action can we take to get the repair done?
(Some simple repairs we reported a couple of years ago, and every quarter since, are causing damage to flats which is incurring more costs to Lambeth).

The Edmundsbury Leaseholders look forward to your answers to all the above questions in a timely fashion, and hope that you can attend either a Leaseholders meeting or our Residents Meeting.

I look forward to attending the The Lambeth Council Homeowners Assembly scheduled for Thursday 5 July 2018 from 6:30pm to 9pm at the Town Hall in Room 1-16.

Many thanks
Jonathan

Jonathan Harbourne
8 Glasbury House
Edmundsbury Court Estate
Ferndale Road, Brixton
London SW9 8AY UK

07939 490702

CC. Ferndale Councillors and Lambeth MP

Ifram – if we don’t get a response to this within a week – would you ask this as a ‘Members’ (ME) Enquiry’. The council target is to respond to 90% of MEs within 10 working days.

Response from Leaseholder Services to Edmundsbury Estate
Received 12th July 2018 at 12:34

Thank you for your below email to which I respond with the following.

After communicating your enquiries listed under section 1 with the Section 20 Manager, Karen Kellaway, she has provided the following response and attachment.

1a: The first payment certificate for this contract is dated the 30 January 2014 and I have attached all the payment certificates to this email.

Before April 2017, the Councils processes have not been as robust as they could have been and it led to delays between receipting the final account and issuing it to leaseholders. As soon as the final account for your estate was received by Home Ownership Services, it was calculated and invoiced swiftly. I can only apologise for the delay you have experienced.

1b: Leaseholders were informed of the costs apportioned to them for the major works programme via an estimated invoice dated 19 December 2013. I have attached a sample of an estimated invoice for this works as per request. A breakdown of costs was provided and there were notes on how cost was calculated and how to make payments.

If you have any further enquiries in relation to the above you can contact the

Section 20 Manager
Karen Kellaway directly with the following details.
Email: kkellaway@lambeth.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 79263715.

2a-b I have attached a copy of both your 17/18 and 18/19 service charge estimate, both of which provide information relating to questions 2a-c. Please review the first few pages, after which point I suggest it would be helpful if you are able to either relay this information to your resident association at your next meeting, or provide them with copies of the relevant information.

2c: For residents who have failed to use the correct reference when making payments, resulting in payments being allocated to the oldest outstanding debts, a request can be made by email or post asking that relevant payments are moved across from one invoice to another. Please note, the exact amount, date and number of payments must all be stated in order that payments are moved across correctly. This process can take up to 28 working days, after which point a resident can request a statement or login to their My Lambeth account and view and up to date statement on line.

3: It is expected that leaseholders are firstly aware of their account balance, whether it be debit or credit. Lambeth provide access to individual accounts via ‘My Portal’ located on the Lambeth Council website. All are also able to request an up to date statement at any point via several methods, such as phone and email. For those who wish to query bills further we offer an appointment service at our Civic Centre or alternatively, similarly to the above we can be contacted by various methods.

4: As you can appreciate, you have contacted the Service Charge Collection Team and not the Repairs Department, despite this I have managed to obtain the below information in relation to issues revolving around repairs.

Where you have reported a repair and are unhappy with the developments, you have a choice of contacting your local area housing office which can be done via the contact centre on 020 7926 6700 or you can raise a complaint using the Lambeth Website directly to the Repairs Department, which will be logged and monitored.

I hope the above is of help and if you require further information you can contact me by reply.

Regards

Chris Ojo
Service Charge Coordinator
Housing Management
London Borough of Lambeth
Phone: 020 792 63743

Email: cojo@lambeth.gov.uk
www.lambeth.gov.uk

London Borough of Lambeth
Homeownership Services
PO box 734
Winchester
SO23 5DG

Were all the questions answered and what do they mean?

1. Do Leaseholders have to pay the major works bill for the 2018 intercom?

Don’t Know – we should ask a Lawyer

Leaseholder services informed Leaseholders of the costs apportioned to them for the major works programme via an estimated invoice dated 19 December 2013. The Payment Certificates for this work were signed on 2 July 2014. They did not pass this bill on to leaseholders within 18 months, it took them 40 months to do so.

“Before April 2017, the Councils processes have not been as robust as they could have been and it led to delays between receipting the final account and issuing it to leaseholders. As soon as the final account for your estate was received by Home Ownership Services, it was calculated and invoiced swiftly. I can only apologise for the delay you have experienced.”

When asked if Lambeth communicated about this bill between the first S20 and the final bill being presented in November 2017 they responded “Leaseholders were informed of the costs apportioned to them for the major works programme via an estimated invoice dated 19 December 2013 – so “no”.

The Leaseholders Advisory Service said: “If that period is more than 18 months from notification of the demand for payment [November 2017], and where a notice under section 20B was not served on you, you may be in a position to challenge the demand for payment.”

I think we now have enough information to pass on to a solicitor to see if they recommend challenging this Major Works bill. My suggestion is to write to Pam Douglas from Wainwright & Cummins, who wrote an article in the Brixton Blog about this very issue.

 

2. Have Account Numbers for Regular Service Charges and Major Works bills changed?

There is now One Account but you have to quote the correct Invoice Number

Lambeth sent out a letter dated 26th February 2018 that states:

“Your account number (the 9 digit payment reference number on your statements) remains the same, this will not change. You can still pay using your 9 digit account number, but when you do the payment will be automatically allocated to invoices on your account. If you quote an invoice number when making payment, your payment will be allocated to a specific invoice. This makes it possible to see exactly which invoice a payment has been made against, as each invoice has its own balance.”

If you have made payments intended to pay your Regular Service Charge, but have an outstanding Major Works bill:

“a request can be made by email or post asking that relevant payments are moved across from one invoice to another”.

3. Can Lambeth make you pay for a bill that you think you’ve paid without producing evidence?

Lambeth referred us to the ‘My Portal’ website as evidence of where up-to-date accounts are kept. I’ve just logged on an added my 7-digit Housing Reference Number so I can see my Service Charges (my Council Tax was already set up). When access is granted (when I get my ‘unlock’ code in the post) I’ll let you know how I get on – and I’ll ask the particular leaseholder who was presented with past bills if all the information is up-to-date on this system.

4. Is there a mechanism/action can we take to get urgent repairs done?

Yes – make a complaint: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/council-tenants-and-homeowners/about-lambeth-housing/complain-about-housing-management

I will make a complaint of some repairs that I have reported over three years ago – I’ll keep you updated as to how long it takes for them to be resolved.

Client Number: 853834
Enquiry Number: 633333
 
Dear Mr Jonathan Harbourne,
 
Thank you for your enquiry of 15/01/2018.
 
Please note that the position under Section 20B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (the Act) is that if the freeholder incurs relevant costs that are more than 18 months old, then they are required to serve notice on the leaseholders in accordance with section 20B(2) informing them that they will be required to contribute towards these costs at some future time.
The notice must contain a specified amount of the overall  spend, even if it is an over estimate.
It will be important to consider when the costs were incurred for the purpose of recording the time. The case of Burr v OM Property Management Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 479;  [2013] WLR (D)  164 makes it clear that time starts to run for the purpose of this rule from either when the freeholder is presented with a demand for payment or when payment is made. I attach a link below to some information on the case for your benefit.  
 
In this regard, time starts to run from the period the freeholder council became contractually required to make payment to a third party contractor. You will need to make enquiries about when payment in respect of these services were paid or needed to be paid. If that period is more than 18 months from notification of the demand for payment, and where a notice under section 20B was not served on you, you may be in a position to challenge the demand for payment.  
     
In other words although you received the invoice in November 2017, and it states that it is for works carried out in 2013/14, you will only be in a position to obtain the benefit of the 18 month rule if payment in respect of the works was made within 18 months of receipt of  the invoice by the council  or the invoice was received within an 18 month period prior to November 2017 and the council failed to serve notices under section 20B(2)  of the Act that you will be liable to contribute to the cost.
It will be crucially important for you to obtain information from the council about when payment was made or an invoice received in respect of the cost, and to ascertain whether or not 18 months has passed since that time without the relevant notification to you and others.       
 
Where you do not consider the demand payable, then it is possible to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a determination about the reasonableness and payability of such a demand.
Regrettably, the Leasehold Advisory Service does not provide property litigation advice and I am unable to comment on the merits of your claim. You will need to seek specialist advice thereto.
 
I hope my comments prove helpful, but if you have any questions please feel free to contact LEASE again quoting your Client Number 853834. You can telephone on 020 7832 2500 or reply to this message using the link below.
Finally, you are invited to use the link below to complete a short survey regarding this response to your enquiry. Your answers help us maintain and improve the quality of our service.
Yours sincerely,
Alero Orimoloye
 
Leasehold Adviser
The Leasehold Advisory Service
Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX.
Telephone: 020 7832 2500
Fax: 020 7832 2529

Click to download letter in full in PDF


 

22 August 2018

The council has issued a service charge invoice in respect of major works service charges which have been undertaken to your block or estate.

The council acknowledges that in this particular instance we may not have served you with a service charge demand or notified you by way of a S20B notice within 18 months of the costs being incurred;

[20B Limitation of service charges: time limit on making demands]
(1)If any of the relevant costs taken into account in determining the amount of any service charge were incurred more than 18 months before a demand for payment of the service charge is served on the tenant, then (subject to subsection (2) ), the tenant shall not be liable to pay so much of the service charge as reflects the costs so incurred.

(2)Subsection (1) shall not apply if, within the period of 18 months beginning with the date when the relevant costs in question were incurred, the tenant was notified in writing that those costs had been incurred and that he would subsequently be required under the terms of his lease to contribute to them by the payment of a service charge.]

However, the Council’s position remains that through the service of the S20 notice, emails, site meetings and correspondence on the matter, you would be aware of the councils intention to issue a service charge demand for the costs which the council have incurred undertaking works to your block or estate.

The council’s position is quite clear. Section 20B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 does not prohibit the landlord from demanding monies. It is simply not equitable for the Landlord not to raise service charge demands for work which it has undertaken and paid for.

The council as your landlord has an obligation to undertake the maintenance repair renewal reinstatements improvements rebuilding cleaning and decoration of our blocks and estates, which will have added value to your property.

Within a ring fenced HRA, any service charge demands which are not paid by the leasehold owners will ultimately be paid by the tenants, who in essence will be subsidising homeownership.

From the Councils perspective, we believe the approach taken to construct your final account is reasonable. Furthermore, we have provided all the documentation currently available to support the final account and charges. We are more than happy to address any further questions around the documentation provided, however, to be clear we have now provided you with everything currently available to justify the costs incurred.

The council is seeking a contribution to the costs of the works incurred, of which, your property has benefitted from. The council will continue to contact you to discuss your service charge demand and the methods of payment available to you.
I would therefore suggest that you contact the Collections team on 02079267132 and enter into a payment plan to settle the invoice.

I trust the above has now clarified all the points you have raised in your enquiry.
Kind regards

Johnson Ajayi
Leasehold Team Leader
Housing Services
London Borough of Lambeth
Phone: 020 7926 6266
Mobile: 07720 827492
Fax: 020 7926 3482
Email: jaajayi@lambeth.gov.uk

16 Jul 2018

Ferndale Safer Neighbourhoods panel meeting

Your Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) is a group of Met police officers dedicated to serving your community. The team is made up of officers based in your area (or ‘ward’), supported by additional officers from the wider area.

We work closely with local authorities, community leaders and residents to decide our policing priorities for the area. This helps us to find useful, long-term solutions to local problems, while maintaining our wider focus on reducing crime across London.

The Next Ferndale Ward Panel Meeting will be held at 7pm on Monday 30th July in the Edmundsbury Court Estate Community Hall at 171 Ferndale Road, SW9 8FQ

We will be having an input from some colleagues from Roads and Transport Policing who would like to tell you about their new Community Road Watch Team and are hoping for some volunteers to assist with the work they are doing. Have a look at the following link which outlines some of the work they do and feel free to bring along any neighbours or friends who you think may be interested in hearing more about their project

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-43841859

If anyone would like anything added to the Agenda please let me know

Sadly this will be my final Panel Meeting as I will be stepping away from Neighbourhood Policing in the near future – I hope to see as many of you as possible at the Meeting

Kind Regards

Julie-Anne
Julie-Anne Cockburn  PC 284LX  Lambeth Central
Ferndale Dedicated Ward Officer

Metphone 789581   Telephone 020 7161 9584
Mobile 020 8721 2774
Address 4-6 Clement Avenue, Clapham SW4 7TY

Follow us @mpsferndale

METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE

05 Jul 2018

Residents Meeting: Monday 23rd July 7-9pm

Join us for our quarterly Residents Meeting of the Edmundsbury Court TRA at the Community Hall.
All Welcome! Please come!
Monday 7pm-9pm 23 July

Officers of Lambeth Council have been invited, along with our local Councillors and Lambeth’s Leaseholders Officer.
The meeting will be led by our new TRA team: Victoria, Esther, Lelia and Cherlyn – please come and support them!

We’ll be discussing:

  1. Parking and Mechanics on the Estate
  2. Gates and CCTV
  3. Noise from Parties
  4. Lambeth’s Leaseholders Bills
  5. Damp and water in flats
  6. Book your space on the Summer Coach Trip!
  7. Volunteer for our annual Summer BBQ

…and more – come along with your questions.

If you want anything added to the agenda – please add your requests to the comments box below.

Come and see our newly renovated community hall – along with a brand new kitchen and flooring!

Notes

  1. Parking and Mechanics on the Estate
    Victoria has been working hard to combat the problem of independent motor mechanics using our front guest car-park as their public garage. She has met with Paul Webb and the garage team.
  2. Gates and CCTV
    Samantha said she would produce a consultation leaflet to be put through everyone’s doors to ask what residents opinions were about having gates at the front of the estate, possibly paid for by saving money from the CCTV cameras. This has not happened. Jonathan will draft a leaflet instead, and bring it to the meeting. Victoria said Paul Webb thought it would be difficult to decommission something that is already in place to fund something that isn’t – we’ll look into the facts of this, as we know other estates are requesting CCTV – so if residents can request something it suggests that they could also suggest NOT to have something.
    The facts that we want to present are:
    • Annual Cost of CCTV
    • Amount of evidence presented in court from our CCTV in the last five years
    • Mechanism for Residents to remove a service that they are paying for but do no want (CCTV, if it turns out no evidence has ever been gathered)
    • Process for Residents to request a service (the gates) that they do want
    Residents thinks gates will help solve the following issues
    • Mechanics using our front car park
    • Lambeth Staff parking in our car park
    • Fly Tipping
    • Drug users injecting on our estate and discarding dirty needles
    • Homeless people sleeping behind the hall
    • Defecating
    • Drunk people exiting the Duke of Edinbugh Pub thinking there is a thoroughfare
    • Anti Social Behaviour
    • General Security
  3. Noise from Parties
    There have been some complaints about noisy parties in the community hall. Contrary to assumptions, these have not been external hirers, but residents themselves. I’m sure we’ll talk more about this at the meeting.
  4. Lambeth’s Leaseholders Bills
    We’ve asked Irfan, our councillor, to put in a Member’s Enquiry (ME), a mechanism for getting answers out of Officers – as leaseholders think that they are being presented with bills that are not correct, legal or appropriate.
  5. Damp and water in flats
    Still no movement on the missing cowls on the roof that are meeting in water. The ME has also asked what mechanism we can use to push through repairs that are being ignored.

Here’s the full Member’s Enquiry Request:

Dear Chris Ojo, Lambeth Council Homeowner Services

I understand that Tim, the acting chair of the Edmundsbury Leaseholders Group, has invited you to meet the leaseholders of Edmundsbury Court Estate on any Monday evening at our community hall. I understand that he hasn’t received a reply yet.
We have our next Quarterly Residents Meeting on Monday 23rd July 7-9pm, Edmundsbury Community Hall and warmly invite you to attend.
If not, the original invitation of any Monday evening before August is still open!
There are some common questions that leaseholders are asking – as certain people have been given different information.
1a. In respect the the 2013 intercom replacement bill that Edmundsbury Leaseholders received in November 2017: Works must be invoiced to leaseholders within 18 months of the freeholder incurring the cost. 
• What date did you become contractually required to make payment to the contractor – can you produce the bill?
• Why did you wait 4 years to invoice Leaseholders?
1b. Did you, within the period of 18 months beginning with the date when the relevant costs in question were incurred, notify the leaseholders in writing that those costs had been incurred and that they would subsequently be required under the terms of their lease to contribute to them by the payment of a service charge?
• If you did – can you produce the communication.
2a. Please state which account number is for Major Works, and which account number is for regular annual service charges.
2b. Leaseholders have been accused of not paying their regular annual service charges by Lambeth, because their payments have been diverted into the Major Works Account.
• Have you recently changed these account numbers around? How and when did you communicate this to Leaseholders?
2c. If leaseholders understood that they were paying their regular annual service charge, but because the account numbers were changed, the money has not gone to where they intended:
• What is the process for them to rectify this?
• How long does it take?
• What assurance can you give them that this has been rectified once and for all?
3.  Leaseholders have been accused by Lambeth of not paying previous year’s bills in full. No evidence, invoices or receipts, have been produced for these bills.
• Is this your normal practice?
• Can leaseholders expect details of apparent unpaid bills?
4. If a resident reports a problem with a building – the repair is prioritised but not repaired
• what is the mechanism/action can we take to get the repair done?
(Some simple repairs we reported a couple of years ago, and every quarter since, are causing damage to flats which is incurring more costs to Lambeth).
The Edmundsbury Leaseholders look forward to your answers to all the above questions in a timely fashion, and hope that you can attend either a Leaseholders meeting or our Residents Meeting.

I look forward to attending the The Lambeth Council Homeowners Assembly scheduled for Thursday 5 July 2018 from 6:30pm to 9pm at the Town Hall in Room 1-16.

Many thanks
Jonathan
30 Nov 2017

URGENT CALL: Area Board Meeting on 4th December 

Lambeth Homeowners Association (LHA)

If you are an Area Board TRA rep or a Lambeth 500+ rep (or you know someone who is) irrespective whether Tenant or Homeowner please contact us/ask them to contact us via our link by clicking here

We want to enable as many attending reps as possible to be able to talk with each other and with us prior to the meeting on 4 December.

The Council have refused to name reps until we agree the Constitution!

Area Board Constitution/Terms of Reference (ToR) Meeting
Irrespective of whether you are a rep or not please come along on to the
Area Boards meeting on the 4th December from 7-9pm
Lecture Theatre
International House Canterbury
Crescent SW9 7QE

The purpose of this meeting is to review the way the 3 Area Boards (North, Central and South) will operate and we have just heard that the Council intends that ‘The draft Constitutions of the Area Boards will be determined by the Board members’ at this meeting. This is, in our view, far too soon. There has been no discussion on this crucial document and there are many institutional and practical deficiencies.

The Area Boards are the core Resident Engagement mechanism under the new structure that Lambeth Council has imposed on us. We, the LHA have assessed the proposals in the new Constitution and have found them deeply problematic. Key points are in the box below and more details in the next paragraph.

You can see the Council’s proposal and our objections in full on our website. In a nutshell, they are highly managed by Lambeth Council to stop us raising any issues of importance to us and membership is very tightly controlled in ways that will prevent many of us qualifying if we take issue with Lambeth Council bills or ways of operation. Further background can be found by following the links from our article The Rush to control Area Boards’ on the front page of our website.

We are concerned that the Council intends to try to force through a vote to endorse the Constitution on 4th December. We must not let them do this. The Constitution is very much against our interests.

If you agree with our critique please write to Mark Howarth (MHowarth@lambeth.gov.uk) and Sue Foster (sfoster1@lambeth.gov.uk) telling them:

  • that you object to the speed these important issues are being forced through;
  • that you object to the content of the current proposed Constitution; and
  •  that you support the LHA views on more equitable representation and a more considered, consultative approach in drawing up these key issues.

Contact us by clicking here or at: lambethhomeownerschair@gmail.com


AREA BOARDS
Our Objections: Some Key Points

  • The Constitution is totally non-democratic, TRA reps can’t even bring up issues from their own TRAs and no substitutes are allowed if a TRA nominated rep cannot make it
  • The Council are pulling all the strings. They set what the Board can do, and who can be on the Board
  • There is no scrutiny over the so called “pilot” structure and at the moment it is scheduled to continue indefinitely, ignoring it is an 18-month pilot.
  • The whole process is very rushed – short notice key document consideration and no discussion on when meetings might be held.
  • There is a token mention monitoring and evaluation, but nothing tangible, no criteria for evaluation and no specific timings when it will happen.

Lambeth Homeowners’ Association (“LHA”)

November 2017

Information guidance from the LHA Committee
Major works – Section 20 and Section 20B
As we all know, for much of the last few years residents of Lambeth have been having major works done to their properties. Had these works been done properly there would be no need for this note.

Regrettably, and demonstrated by the many communications that the LHA has been receiving, these works have been very badly procured, consulted and executed and despite the many complaints bills for huge sums have been landing on residents’ doormats.

What to do?

One route (and for many this may be necessary if you are to avoid paying the excessive service charges Lambeth is imposing on you to recoup the cost of the works) is to take the matter to the Tribunal and to face the daunting task of demonstrating the unreasonableness of the charges. This is a huge and difficult and stressful and time consuming and expensive process.

Which is why, if the facts fit there is another route. The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE)[1] explains as follows:

‘Under Section 20B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, a landlord has 18 months within which to notify you of service charge costs being incurred or demand payment from you. If they fail to either notify you or demand payment within 18 months they will not be able to recover the charges from you.’

The courts have ruled that costs are “incurred” on the earlier of Lambeth paying for the works or Lambeth receiving an invoice for the works. Typically, it will be when Lambeth receive the invoice as it is very unlikely to pay before it gets the invoice. The section is quoted in full below.

“20B Limitation of service charges: time limit on making demands.

“(1)        If any of the relevant costs taken into account in determining the amount of any service charge were incurred more than 18 months before a demand for payment of the service charge is served on the tenant, then (subject to subsection (2) ), the tenant shall not be liable to pay so much of the service charge as reflects the costs so incurred.
“(2)        Subsection (1) shall not apply if, within the period of 18 months beginning with the date when the relevant costs in question were incurred, the tenant was notified in writing that those costs had been incurred and that he would subsequently be required under the terms of his lease to contribute to them by the payment of a service charge.”

Lambeth has already in some cases acknowledged that it “may” not have provided the necessary notification, which must be in writing.

So far as billing by Lambeth and notifications pursuant to section 20B(2) are concerned, reference needs to be made to the odd thing that Lambeth did some weeks or even a couple of months ago.

They, without any prior notification of any sort, suddenly added to the on-line accounts of many Leaseholders a lot of items which were evidently amounts that Lambeth decided were owing by Leaseholders in respect of the major works done to their block or estate or house.

Some Leaseholders noticed this and objected. It is not clear whether Lambeth have taken down these items which should not have been there as no invoice had been sent by Lambeth in respect of them. Clearly, they should not have been there. Many Leaseholders do not have access to their online accounts so will not have seen any entries that may have been made on their accounts. The point to note with regard to these entries is that they are not notifications for purposes of section 20B(2).

If you are considering making use of section 20B(2) or if you have other reasons for wanting not to pay or to pay less than the Lambeth invoice specifies and if you are needing to decide which payment option offered by Lambeth to use, then when notifying Lambeth of your chosen option you should do so under protest. If you have already notified Lambeth of your chosen option and did not do so under protest, you should now notify Lambeth of your protest.

Your protest might be along the lines of:

I am notifying you of my payment option but do so under protest as I consider the amount of your invoice to be excessive and also late as you have not complied with the time limits set out in Section 20B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. I accordingly reserve all my rights with regard to your invoice number [  ] dated [    ] 2017.

You should also write to Lambeth explaining both why you consider their invoice to be excessive for the works actually done and why you consider Lambeth to be timed out by section 20B. If you consider that you have a strong section 20B case you may initially want to focus on that, stating that you consider that Lambeth has neither invoiced you nor demanded payment within 18 months of Lambeth being invoiced by the contractor. You should also ask for copies of the Invoices that Lambeth received from the contractor. We would just warn you that Lambeth have in several cases failed to provide copies of the invoices. This is likely to be a long battle.

Whether a protest after choosing an option will work for you will depend on the option you have chosen and what you may have agreed with Lambeth about your chosen option. You may need some advice on this aspect and on other aspects. LEASE (see footnote below for information about them and click here to go to their website) are a good starting point. You will need to book a telephone appointment to speak to one of their advisers.

END

[1] On their website LEASE explain who they are as follows: “LEASE was set up in 1994 to provide free information, initial advice and guidance to members of the public about residential leasehold and park homes law. We have been providing this valuable service for more than 20 years. As the first point of contact for leaseholders, we are independent and impartial and all of our advisers are legally qualified.”


 

24 Nov 2017

Fire Safety: Communal Areas

1. Introduction

This procedure sets out how the Council deals with fire safety in communal areas of residential property.

The procedure only applies to blocks of flats that the Council own and where it manages the communal areas

The Housing Act 2004 makes requirements regarding the condition of housing including individual flats within a block and the common parts of that block.

This procedure has been written taking into account the fire safety guidance from the Local Government Association, ‘Fire Safety in Purpose Built Blocks of Flats’ (May 2012) that was issued to minimise the threat of fire in blocks of flats.

The likelihood of fire is strongly influenced by social and lifestyle factors. It is these factors more than any other that result in a disproportionate number of fires, fire related accidents, injuries and death in blocks of flats.

2. Background Legislation and Guidance

The Council is aware of its legal obligations and will seek to deliver services in accordance with these at all times. Relevant legislation is as follows:

  • Building Regulations 2010
  • Housing Act 2004
  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO)
  • DCLG Fire Safety in Purpose Built Blocks of Flats

There is an overlap between the Housing Act and the FSO. The Housing Act applies to the common parts and the flats themselves; common parts also fall within the scope of the FSO.

3. Procedure Objectives

  • To considers the circumstances of the residents that live in our blocks and to assess the specific risk factors of the building
  • To allows the Council to carry out its landlord obligations regarding communal areas
  • To have sterile areas in enclosed communal areas whilst limiting the ‘allowable items’ in open communal areas
  • To reduce the risk of fires in blocks of flats by controlling combustible materials
  • To minimise the risk of items causing an obstruction to access or exit routes in the event of an emergency.
  • To allow Housing Officers to consider fire safety and what action is required including whether estate improvements may be undertaken to assist with the storage of items in communal areas.

4. Procedure Implementation

As part of the Council’s commitment to fire safety within communal areas, Housing Services will make sure that all communal areas are inspected on a regular basis.

In considering whether a communal area is fire safe, responsibility for undertaking regular inspections rests with the Housing Officer. Taking account of the Fire Risk Assessment, the Housing Officer will decide what action if any is required to manage communal area safety. For example, this could include:

  • New / additional fire safety signage
  • Block letters reminding residents of their obligations
  • Removal of combustible / non-allowable items
  • Referral to the H&S Team

Alongside regular inspections, any visiting Council staff and / or contractor is responsible for identifying and reporting blocks where personal items are stored / displayed in communal areas.

4.1 Enclosed Communal Areas

To minimise the risk of trip hazards which in the event of a fire could impact on evacuation these areas must be sterile – no items are to be stored / left in the communal areas.

Combustible items will be removed without notice. Such items include:

  • Mobility Scooters
  • Washing Machines / tumble dryers and other white goods

Non-combustible items will be issued with a 24-hour removal notice enabling the resident to make alternative storage arrangements. Such items include:

  • Bicycles
  • Door mats
  • Children’s toys and play furniture
  • Clothes / dryers
  • Pictures
  • Plants
  • Pushchairs / Buggies / children’s car seats
  • Refuse bags
  • Wooden furniture / upholstered seating
  • Shopping Trollies
  • Shoes (NB: there may be a cultural issue to consider – seek guidance from the Health & Safety Team if in any doubt)

4.2 Open Communal Areas

Where communal areas open to outside elements the council will permit ‘allowable items’ to be left / stored in the communal area: ‘Allowable items’ refers to the following items only:

  • A doormat outside an individual property front door
  • Real (natural) plants in non-combustible containers that do not restrict an escape route (minimum 1 metre width)

The Council reserves the right to remove any other items left / disposed of in communal areas without limitation should they be causing a fire risk or be blocking access / exit routes.

4.3 Window and Front Door Gates / Grilles

Based on guidance GN11 from the Enforcement Authority, the London Fire Brigade, the council does not permit residents to install window and / or front door gates / grilles across individual property front doors. Such installations are a breach of tenancy and leasehold conditions and are considered to be a potential risk to residents safety – sometimes it is necessary for fire-fighters to gain access into premises in an emergency and a security gate / grille can add significantly to the time that this takes, resulting in unacceptable danger to both life and property.

Where installed, a request will be made for removal within a given timescale, failing which the matter will be referred for court action.

4.4 Storage Areas

Many blocks and estates have storage areas for rent including sheds, garages and bike stores. Residents should be sign-posted to their Area Housing Team to enquire about renting a storage facility.

Storage areas on main protected fire escape routes will be decommissioned. Such sites will be identified in the Fire Risk Assessment.

4.5 Recharging

Where the council incurs direct or indirect costs as a result of any actions relating to managing fire safety in communal areas, including removal of stored / disposed items or door grilles, these costs will be recharged to the resident(s) responsible.

If permission was historically granted for a door gate / grille to be installed or was in situ when the current resident took up occupation then no recharge will be made in relation to its removal unless the resident refuses to adhere to the request and legal action has to be taken.

4.6 Communication

As well as publicising the procedure on the Council’s website, notices will be put in communal areas informing residents of the communal area fire safety procedure.

5. Equality Impact Assessment

The procedure has been adopted to deal with fire safety in the communal areas of all Housing Services residential property and treats all residents the same with regard to items being left which would cause an obstruction / fire risk.

Where there are individual cases concerning residents who have disabilities or what they perceive to be exceptional circumstances, the Housing Officer is expected to seek guidance from the Health & Safety Team and any support agencies involved with the resident to consider what action needs to be taken.

6. Monitoring

This procedure will be reviewed at least every two years or as and when there are changes to any legislation and national policy governing this area of work.

12 Sep 2017

Paint the Blocks – this weekend!

On Saturday and Sunday the TRA needs YOU to volunteer to help us paint the Blocks.

We are painting the exterior masonry blue paint.

TRA volunteers will attempt to paint the ground floor on Saturday and Sunday 16th & 17th September. We shall be supported by two professional painters who will direct us in how to rub down and clean the areas as well as paint. A jet-wash has been booked for this week for the ground floors.

If you have a balcony, then the TRA can give you the blue paint and instructions (if needed) to do it yourself. If you are unable to paint your balcony by yourself, please let the TRA know, and we’ll put together a booking sheet for people who require assistance – and if we have enough volunteers, we’ll come around and paint your balcony.

We’ve matched the blue paint – so if some people paint their balconies and others don’t – then it won’t stand out as much as if we chose a different colour.

We also have some fire-retardant cream paint for the corridors – not enough to repaint the whole communal areas, but if you have a particularly bad wall or area, we can provide paint or touch it up for you.

We asked the Council if they scheduled painting, and they said there is no longer a percentage of your service charge that goes into regular redecoration. If they painted the flats for us, they would charge us (and their service charges are sometimes more expensive than hiring contractors yourself).

Please – we need as much support as possible to get these flats looking nice. The posters have been up in every block for a month – so everyone has been informed. If you can’t make this weekend, but can do next weekend or the weekend after – then please contact the TRA as we may be able to put another group together. This is something that will benefit everyone, and even an hour or two from everyone will really help.

10 Jul 2017

Residents Meeting: Monday 24th July 7-9pm – all welcome

Please join us for our quarterly residents meeting for tenants, leaseholders and letters.

Here’s the first draft of the agenda – but please add to it by putting comments at the bottom of this page.

The meeting will be chaired by our new vice-chair, Bryony from Glasbury.

Agenda

Edmundsbury Residents Meeting – Monday 24th July 7-9pm – Community Hall

Chair – Jonathan Harbourne – Glasbury House
Vice chair – Bryony Long – Glasbury House
Treasurer – Cherlyn Campbell – Dalbury House
Secretary – Isaac Peral – Dalbury House
SNT – Nuno Lopes – Glasbury House

Hall

  1. Fire Precautions in the hall – survey/inspection Tuesday 18th July.
  2. Hall surveyed, and recommendations went in for new kitchen and windows and larger boiler
  3. Air vents to be fitted – job number raised, inspection made, waiting for contractors.
  4. Shed needs new doors since they were damaged in multiple break-ins.

Events at the Hall

  1. Safeguarding Training for residents working with Children: 29 July or 5 August – contact Kamala to book. Everyone volunteering at the After School Club should attend if possible.

  2. Changes to hire: Guitar guy leaving, Brixton Impact Hub joined (Mondays)

Square

  1. Parking – Council staff have been requested to use Guest Car Park only (that’s the first row).
  2. Motorcycles need to be parked in a car parking bay. We’ve asked for four car park bays to be converted into a motorcycle bay – one on each side. We’re waiting to see if Central Area have budget for painting new lines.

  3. Car Parking on the estate is 24/7. The Council only have the budget to enforce it Mon-Fri 7am-7pm.
  4. We’ve asked for 2 signs to tell people to park in bays and not under people’s windows.
  5. Gates/Railings: We recently had them installed between the hall and Glasbury,
    we’ve now requested that we have the same between Glasbury and Exbury (to stop the drug users).
    Gates were fitted to the bin chambers at the front.
    We’ve suggested that the Nursery Road bin chamber be gated and available to store cycles – with a bar to lock them to.
    Cycles (and anything else on stairs) will receive a 24-hour removal notice shortly.
  6. Gables – JH wrote to Kate Hoey as Lambeth had taken no action. The surveyor who was looking into it left Lambeth. Now Nick is the senior surveyor in charge.
  7. Bicycle Storage – Steven Darbyshire left Lambeth Council
  8. Rats: environmental officer inspected

  9. Lights off on blocks, central Fosbury light has fallen down.

Events

  1. Coach Trip: Margate
  2. BBQ – need an organiser if the BBQ is going to happen this year. New Lambeth rules say no amplified music.
  3. Computer Lessons: no one signed up, so they didn’t go ahead
    and we didn’t get enough sign-ups for the language courses

Grants & Awards

  1. Grant to apply for: Children’s Play Area (new slide)
  2. After School Club – need annual budget to be able to apply for grant.

  3. Blooming Lambeth Awards: didn’t get shortlisted for Best Food Growing and Best Community Garden (flowers), but did for Best Private Garden (Monty).

Flats

  1. Fire Precautions: clear corridors: no carpets, vinyl tiles, disused washing machines,
    bicycles, old rolled up carpets
    : everything to be removed. Samantha will do walk-about and put 24-hour removal notices on everything.

  2. Request for locks to all gates at top of stairs to be FB Keys.
  3. Trees behind Fosbury House have been cut down and removed.
  4. Cowls on air vents: still many missing, water pours in when it rains – details been sent to Samantha.

  5. Suggestion: Painting of flats – corridors and outside: Richard left some paint for touching up hallways – this has to be special fire-retardant pain. We want to get the number of the blue paint, and let residents paint their own balconies, with the TRA volunteers painting the ground floor over a dry weekend.

AOB

 

The next Residents Meeting is on Monday 6th November 2017.

 

29 Jun 2017

Leaseholders: Register with Leaseholder Council Exec

Dear Fellow Leaseholders and Freeholders

This is important for you in a number of ways, including financially and our ability to communicate.

We are your representative body for all Leasehold (Homeowner) issues including Major Works, Service Charges, Insurance etc elected from Area Forums. You will be aware of the importance of these items involving thousands of pounds of your money. There are a number of current and future major issues affecting you.

Lambeth have agreed to circulate this letter to you: we are asking you to provide us with your email address so we can communicate with you directly.

We urge you, therefore, to:

• email us, the Leasehold (Homeowners) Council Executive, from the address you would like to register with us;
• give us your authority to store your email address and communicate with you;
• with your email your full name and your address

We will not share your information with anyone outside Leasehold Council Executive or the Area Council Executive (if one is formed) and it will be used only for the purpose of communicating with you about Housing or related issues.

Our email address to register with us is: lambethhomeownerschair@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

Shemi Leira
Chair

15 Jun 2017

Fire safety message on behalf of Neil Wightman

15th June 2017

Dear Resident,

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington on Tuesday night, I am writing to you as a resident of one of Lambeth’s residential tower blocks, to give an update of the current situation and to reassure you that the safety of our residents, staff and visitors in Lambeth is given the highest priority.

Firstly, I want to confirm to you that all Lambeth Housing structures have an up-to-date fire risk assessment. There are a range of actions required as a result of the assessments which are being followed up – and blocks are being prioritised.

I chair a fortnightly Health & Safety meeting which monitors the action plan and reviews fire risk and I also met with the Health & Safety team following the Grenfell fire, to discuss further actions including reviewing blocks, which have similar designs to Grenfell. I will also be meeting the London Fire Brigade to discuss evacuation procedures and ensure notices in blocks are renewed or updated where required.

As more is known about the cause of the fire in Kensington, lessons will be learnt and good practice will follow, which will be reviewed alongside Lambeth procedures. In the meantime please help to keep you and your neighbours safe by:

  • Making sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home
  • Keeping balconies free from clutter
  • Not leaving rubbish or bikes in communal areas or obstruct escape routes
  • Making sure you know where your nearest fire exit is, and
  • If you are a smoker please do not smoke in common areas of the block and always fully extinguish cigarettes smoked in your home and dispose of them carefully and safely

If you have any questions or concerns about fire safety within your block or home please do not hesitate to contact your local housing office or the HM Fire Safety Department at Lambeth (Email : HMfiresafety@lambeth.gov.uk) alternatively you may wish to contact the London Fire Brigade on 0800 028 44 28 who are able to undertake Home Fire Safety Visits. We have included a leaflet on home fire safety produced by the fire brigade.

The Leader of the Council, Cllr Lib Peck, has issued a statement following the Grenfell fire, which can be seen online at love.lambeth.gov.uk/grenfell-tower-fire.

Yours faithfully

Neil Wightman

Director of Housing Services
London Borough of Lambeth Housing Services 1st Floor Blue Star House, 234-240 Stockwell Road, London SW9 9SP

Download the LFB Fire Safety Poster here: Fire (PDF)