Partners have created a new “Leaseholder Service Charge Challenge” leaflet that specifically deals with service charge disputes, and is in addition to the “Service Alerts & Formal Complaints” procedure.
A leaseholder member of the partners residents forum and ILA will be discussing these with Partners next week and hopes to get some amendments made to these procedures, to clarify and improve the position for Partners leaseholders.
Copies of proposed leaflets are enclosed below, alongside suggested amends, if any (Partners) Leaseholders have any comments on the leaflets or proposed amendments could you please add them to below form by 23.3.11- sorry for short notice. Comments will inform and may be included in suggested amends. Thanks.
Service Charge Challenge information leaflet for leaseholders
Draft version of text for the leaflet
A Simple Step by Step Guide to resolving any billing queries using Partners Challenge Process Introduction
4.1 Partners For Improvement Islington (Partners) manages the LBI Islington PFI scheme. This entails the improvement, maintenance and management of some 6,400 street properties on behalf of the owners LB Islington. Page 27
4.2 A major programme of improvement works will result in all the stock meeting the decent homes standard. As a leaseholder, you will have been consulted on the specific major works to your building.
4.3 Once works have been completed, you will receive a Final Account (bill) for your share of the costs of the works.
4.4 At Partners, leaseholders are able to have their final accounts reviewed and checked by Partners Works Team as part of our Service Charge Challenge procedure. Steps to Resolving Your Dispute What you need to tell us
4.5 If you are unhappy with the costs and / or works detailed on your final account, you should first contact the Leasehold Team at Partners
4.6 You can contact the Leasehold Team either by phone 0800 587 3595 (free from a land line), by letter (the address is on the bill), or email to email@example.com
4.7 When you contact us it will help us to quickly resolve your concerns, if you provide us with full details of your challenge. Many leaseholders send us a copy of their final account and highlight on the copy the works and / or costs they are unhappy with. To make it easier for you, we can also send you a copy of your final account by email, so you can highlight the particular works or costs that you want us to look into.
4.8 Please note that in order to benefit from the 36 month repayment period it is important for you to start paying towards all undisputed sums whilst your final account is being reviewed. Any disputed works costs can be placed on hold until the matter is resolved. We will acknowledge your challenge
4.9 Once we receive your challenge, Partners Leasehold Team will send you an acknowledgement letter and then pass on your challenge to Partners Works Team. You will be contacted by Partners Works Team
4.10 Partners Works Team will then contact you directly to arrange a convenient appointment date and time to meet and discuss your concerns with you. If you are at work during the day, a visit can sometimes be made for early morning or early evening.
4.11 If the Works Team is not able to make an appointment to meet with you within six weeks of receiving your challenge, they will ring, email Page 28 or write to you apologising for the delay and informing you of when it is likely for a visit to be made.
4.12 Partners Works Team staff who contact you to make an appointment to discuss your final account are quantity surveyors who would have been involved in preparing your final account before it was originally sent to you. What will happen when Partners Works Team meet you at your home
4.13 At the time of your appointment, the Works Team will discuss with you what works or costs you are querying. It is also important for you to tell them if any remedial works are needed or if you are aware of any uncompleted works. After the visit
4.14 After the visit the Works Team will review your final account and make any amendments that are necessary. If any remedial works are required they will arrange to get these works done. Please note that any remedial works undertaken will be carried out at no extra cost to you.
4.15 It may sometimes be necessary for another visit to be made to your property. The Works Team will advise you as to whether this is necessary at the time of their visit.
4.16 If the amendments to your account are quite detailed, Partners Works Team may send you a summary of the various amendments that are going to be made to your account, so you can check and confirm that you are happy with the revisions that have been made. The Leasehold Team will notify you of any amendments to your bill
4.17 Once the Works Team has revised your final account (if applicable), your revised Final Account will be sent on to Partners Leasehold Team.
4.18 Partners Leasehold Team will then make any necessary adjustments to your service charge major works account and will then send you a revised bill and invoice. Payment
4.19 You can then discuss with Partners Leasehold Team your preferred method of payment. If you wish to pay all your bill to us straight away Partners offers a 2.5% early payment discount.
4.20 Please note that any major works challenges made by leaseholders are outside of the Formal Complaints procedure run in conjunction Page 29
“Service Charge Challenge information leaflet” for leaseholders – Proposed Amendments
4.2 this doesn’t explain what standard the work should have been done to, so people have better idea of whether its reasonable to complain in the first place. lot’s of complaints are about quality of work – yet IMO Partners doesn’t make it clear to resident what quality of work is expected from them
4.8 can you put it in writing that taking part in your 36 month repayment period will not disallow LH’s from taking the matter to an LVT.
4.9 can you also send LH’s a copy of the availability standard so LH’s know what should have been done by the works team, and to what standard?
4.19 clarify that making an early payment wont preclude a LH from going to LVT or disallow LH’s from challenging costs in good faith with partners. Why should a LH be penalised if LH’s have issues about quality of works, from taking advantage of early payment discounts when works are finally complete, and bills agreed.
4.20 delete this. it’s unreasonable that you use the complaints procedure to eliminate anyone that has serious complaints to make Partners look better than you are or at least explain that the complaints procedure is not a ( Key Performance indicator) KPI, or doesn’t influence any KPI’s or (Work customer satisfaction indicators,)WPIs, that affect Partners income and e.g. payment thru’ of unitary payment or other income from LBI , or income from any other sources is not affected in any way by stats derived from the complaint procedure?
PARTNERS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN ISLINGTON SERVICE ALERTS & FORMAL COMPLAINTS
We want to give you a first-class service, and we are always ready to listen to your views on how to improve
• Take Service Alerts and formal complaints seriously
• Investigate Service Alerts and formal complaints thoroughly to see what lessons we can learn and so prevent similar mistakes being made
• Value you taking the time to tell us what you think of our service
• Feedback to residents what we learn through complaints in Partners Gazette We want to hear from you, please tell us if:
• You have received particularly good service and want to praise us
• You have a comment to make about our services. This might be a suggestion about how we could improve something
• You are unhappy about the service you have received from us, or the way you have been treated and want to make a Service Alert or formal complaint Complaints Procedure We have adopted Islington Council’s complaints procedure, which has two stages, and an appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman. Our complaints procedure covers almost all services provided by Partners. See overleaf for details of when the complaints procedure will not operate.
Stage 1 – Partners deal with the complaint At Stage One of the process, when we first receive a complaint, a manager will look into your complaint and aim to resolve it to your satisfaction. We will respond to you within 15 working days.
Stage 2 – Chief Executives, Islington Council, review the complaint If you are not satisfied at the first stage of the formal complaint process you can request the Chief Executive of Islington Council to carry out an independent review. They will respond within 28 calendar days. The address is: Local Government Ombudsman The Ombudsman is an independent person who investigates complaints about local authorities, usually only when you have been through both stages of our formal complaints process. The address of the Ombudsman is: P.O. Box 4771 Coventry CV4 0EH Phone: Text: Email: Website: 0300 0610614 or 0845 6021983 “call back” to 0762 4804299 firstname.lastname@example.org www.lgo.org.uk Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London, N1 2UD Phone: Email: 020 7527 3007 email@example.com Areas where the complaints process does not operate The complaints procedure will not operate:
• Where you are taking or have taken or appear likely to take legal action against Partners. This is because decisions reached by a court cannot be overturned • Where you are pursuing your legal right to an independent arbitration service • Where you are making an insurance claim against us
• Where you are disputing your leaseholder Service Charge or Major Works bill.
We will deal with your concerns under our Service Charge Challenge procedure We are not responsible for:
• Properties on estates
• Homelessness or the housing aid service
• The Council’s housing waiting list You can find details of who to complain to about these services by calling Contact Islington on 020 7527 2000 minicom 020 7527 1900 or online at: www.islington.gov.uk.
Advice Agencies Islington Advice Project Contact Partners Phone: 0800 587 3595 Islington Age Concern 6-9 Manor Gardens, N7 6LA Phone: 020 7281 6018 Disability Action in Islington 91 Upper Street, N1 0NP Phone: 020 7226 0137 Minicom: 020 7359 1891 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Islington People’s Rights 6-9 Manor Gardens, N7 6LA Phone: 020 7561 3685 Email: email@example.com Islington Law Centre 161 Hornsey Road, N7 6DU Phone: 020 7607 2461 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Turkish Education Group 2 Newington Green, N1 4RX Phone: 020 7226 8647 Imece Turkish Speaking Women’s Group 2 Newington Green, N1 4RX Phone: 020 7354 1359 Email: email@example.com Arachne Greek-Cypriot Women’s Group 534a Holloway Road, London, N7 6JP Phone: 020 7263 6261 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Islington Chinese Association 21 Hapchard Road, London, N19 4NG Phone: 020 7263 5986 Islington Somali Community 225-229 Seven Sisters Road, N4 2AD Phone: 020 7272 0550
SERVICE ALERTS & FORMAL COMPLAINTS – Proposed amendments
Clarify the PFI complaints procedure wording so that it does not appear to:
1. exclude all the most severe complaints or complainants from the complaints procedure
2. exclude whoever Partners wants to exclude at any time ( e.g. Where you …. appear likely to take legal action) and that the complaints procedure wording
3. confirms that the complaints procedure does not generate info that is a ( Key Performance indicator) KPI, or influences any KPI’s or WPIs (Work customer satisfaction indicators), that affect Partners income and e.g. payment thru of unitary payment or other income and that No statistics give to media or politicians or auditors are derived from the complaints procedure?
4.Confirm in writing that no stats derived from these figures are used in Partners or LBI satisfaction surveys?
5. The service challenge procedure (SCP) should be on the same leaflet as the complaints procedure, or if there no room explain where the SCP is available to see?
6. Provide an explanation of why Partners need to exclude anyone ( e.g. ppl taking legal action and or going to an LVT) from the complaints procedure,. (Partners have explained that there are legal reasons why this complaints procedure cannot overule the court or LVT procedure – well that should be specified within the procedure without implying that such legal complainant has not lost any other rights that come with the complaints procedure)
If you have any comment or suggestions on above please let us know in below form, thanks.