Building contractor sacked after overcharging housing chiefs £300k

Leaseholders will be interested to know There has been a bit of a sea change in Brighton amongst the councillors and they recently refused the Housing Revenue Account budget for the next 3 years. There has also been another, yet another, scandal regarding overcharging and Mears . More here

Charge to leaseholders has nothing to do with the cost of the service -Tribune letter 01.16

Charge to leaseholders has nothing to do with the cost of the service we get

8 January, 2016

• ISLINGTON Council residential leaseholders are generally unaware that their service charge has not been calculated or apportioned according to the terms of their leases.

Council leases state that the service charge shall be apportioned by area, but the council has never properly measured the area of all its flats, so instead it decided to use what it calls bedroom weighting.

The High Court has decided that bedroom weighting is wrong, and that area should be used. The council is now claiming this High Court decision does not apply in most cases. I disagree.

The reality is that the service charge is just a pre-decided figure that the council wishes to recover from leaseholders, and has nothing to do with what the service provided actually costs.

For more information

ILA Crowdfunding bid to challenge hidden housing repair costs

Reposted from Islington Tribune

LETTERS: Crowdfunding bid to challenge hidden housing repair costs

Published: 27 November, 2015

• IT’S great to see the Tribune has started to report on Islington’s housing problems once again.

What was not reported in this article was that during the scrutiny committee meeting I asked Partners representatives how many surveyors it employed to service the properties it manages on behalf of the council; its answer was approximately 12. Since Islington Council employs another 60 surveyors to service the rest of its housing stock the total number of surveyors paid for by residents is more than 70, and according to the council, the majority of its surveyors are not even Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors qualified.

 Since leaseholders’ bills for cyclic work show that all contracts are inclusive of 11 per cent for “professional fees” to the council, surely we are entitled to expect that the council employs only fullyRICS-qualified staff?

If the council is using potentially unqualified staff (not chartered surveyors) to assess the condition of our homes, how do we know that the costs and quality of the work, for which we are grossly overcharged, actually represents true “value for money”?

The answer is simple. We need to be able to freely inspect the schedule of rates appertaining to the contracts which have been agreed between the council and its contractors. Since we pay the bill we should be able to see just what the council signs us up to.

Curiously, the council not only refuses to allow us to view this document, but has recently attended a court hearing in order to make certain it can reserve the right to restrict legislative compliance to a degree which suits its purpose – basically, to stop residents seeing the cost of their repairs.

In order to challenge this position those concerned need to be able to pursue their case without fear of financial pressures.

Therefore, we are currently examining the possibility of following a course of crowdfunding to finance a challenge. If you are prepared to assist financially please email us on Islington.Leaseholders@hotmail.co.uk.

Remember, if the council does not have to show how your money is spent, it’s you who will have to pay the hidden costs.

DR BS POTTER
Chairman, Islington Leaseholders Association

ILA meet Wed 9th September

Islington Leaseholders Association Meeting

On

Wednesday 9th September 2015

In

Islington Town Hall

At

7pm – 9pm

Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman (ILA)

Guest Speaker: Mr Paul Lightfoot, Group Leader Direct Works (includes scaffolding) 

Website www.ila.org.uk

Twitter @ilaorguk

Face Book www.facebook.com/IslingtonLeaseholdersAssociation

Volunteers wanted

The ILA are looking for a ‘secretary’ to take minutes and distribute them regularly to all the directors and asks for a volunteer to undertake this essential part of the work, to assist with the smooth running of the organisation.  If you are interested please log into http://www.ila.org.uk/faqs/contact-form.

If you wish to join or renew your membership please contact our website ww.ila.org.uk where you can obtain the appropriate membership forms.

please feel fee to pass this info on to other leaseholders in chat, email Facebook or twitter.

Inspection of Islington Council Accounts 

 Inspection of Accounts 

Adverts are out this week from 22 June 2015 to 17 July 2015 but feel free to send in requests from now so we can start Mohammed.Sajid@islington.gov.uk please see below.

Audit of Accounts 31st March 2014 to 1st April 2015

  • Audit Commission Act 1998, sections 15 – 16
  • The Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011 Regulations 9, 10, 21 and 22

Each year the council’s accounts are audited. In line with the above Acts and Regulations any person interested has the right to:

  • Inspect the accounts and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to them and make copies of the above (a charge may be made for copies).

The accounts for the year ending 31 March 2015 and documents will be available at the Council Offices, 7 Newington Barrow Way, London N7 7EP between 9.30am and 4.30pm on Mondays to Fridays from 22nd June to 17th July 2015.

If you wish to inspect any particular documents please apply first to the Corporate Accountancy Tram at the above address, call 0207 527 2725 or email AccountsInspection@islington.gov.uk  so that arrangements can be made. Please note: you may need to visit other offices you may need to visit other offices to view some documents. From 10.00am on Monday 20th July 2015 until Wednesday 30th September 2015, until the end of the audit process, a local government elector for the area of the council, or his/her representative.

 

ILA_Gazette28.11.13 -£3,500 mislaid_lr

 

BBC program wants Council & Partners Leaseholders experiences of works, charges for repairs etc

BBC are doing a programme looking at the experience of leaseholders when it comes to charges for repairing and maintaining communal buildings. They are keen to talk to people who can give them an insight into how this system works – are repairs/maintenance done promptly… is the quality of the work adequate… are the charges that are levied on leaseholders fair etc.? They may want you take part in program.

They are are also keen to talk to PFI leaseholders.

Please mail ILA 2-3 paragraphs with your experiences by Fri 8th May and well pas them on, thanks

Islington Council cherry picker

Details for the cherry picker that has been purchased ( for islington Council tenants repair – its not been clarified if Partners tenants will benefit). It will be used for appropriate repairs for a mixture of trades dependent on access and the suitability of the work.

Download Spec

Service charge limit for leaseholders of social landlords

New mandatory and discretionary reduction of service charges directions for social landlords came into force on 12 August 2014.

Heres a link to Leases’ article on the recent cap

Here are links to the mandatory and discretionary regs

Solicitor’s frank comments on many social landlords contractor payments

Social landlords don’t know whether contractors are requesting payment for the right amounts, warns Theresa Mohammed in Inside Housing

Put bad practice behind you   

Most social landlords that develop homes have always disapproved of the now outdated practice of failing to pay contractors and subcontractors in a timely manner. They have taken a keen interest in the mechanics of the payment provisions under recent legislation.
Among our clients, we have seen social landlords bending over backwards to engage with contractors’ claims and cost overruns, even when this results in busting the budget for a project.
But this has to some extent gone too far and encouraged contractors to fall back on the old-fashioned claims culture of inflated and unsubstantiated claims for payment, which are difficult to assess with any accuracy. Contractors typically send these payment applications in the form of long spreadsheets of figures, relating to subcontractors. Some social landlords have been paying without checking for mistakes or asking for justification for the amounts requested.
Social landlords increasingly tell us about duplicated invoicing, spurious variations where a contractor claims that the scope of work has changed, the withholding of invoices for long periods of time, failure to follow any of the agreed payment processes, and contractors introducing payment terms or rates that were not agreed.
Lack of management
One of the main reasons for these problems is a distinct lack of senior management in repairs and maintenance contracting, which means costs are incurred and then crudely attributed to various categories of cost, such as preliminaries or planned works, which may or may not be legitimate.
More

(Theresa Mohammed is a contentious construction senior associate at Trowers & Hamlins)

Artcicle from Inside Housing   27 August 2014  http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/home/blogs/put-bad-practice-behind-you/7005264.article

 

People vs PFI conference 01. 11.14

Join us on the 1st November, 9am – 5:30pm at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for the inaugural People vs PFI conference, bringing together academics, medical professionals, campaigners, researchers, journalists and grassroots organisations to discuss the problem of PFI, and to brainstorm political and practical solutions – with a focus on PFI in the NHS and social housing.

Speakers include: Richard Brooks (Private Eye), Ann Pettifor (Advocacy International), Nick Hildyard (Corner House) Ashley Seagar (Intergenerational Foundation, formerly The Guardian), Cat Hobbs (We Own it), Fran Boait (Positive Money), David McCoy (Medact), David Price (Queen Mary University London) Stuart Hodkinson (University of Leeds) John Lister (Keep Our NHS Public), and Dexter Whitfield (European Services Strategy Unit), with more speakers to be confirmed.

more info

Complaints Process Information

Please read this and see if it affects you.

Complaints_Process_Ombudsman1

Complaints_CH_Charter_housing2

If the answer is yes, please attend the next ILA meeting (on Wednesday in Townhall at 7pm) and ask questions relating to this process of our guest:

The “Adjudicator” of the “Housing Ombudsmen Service”

Dr. B.S. Potter ( Chairman ILA)