‘£30k maintenance charge drained my life savings’ says 88-year-old leaseholder
Published: 13 September, 2013 by PETER GRUNER and SERINA SANDHU from Islington Tribune
HOUSING activists are launching a campaign to force Islington Council to pay back most of the £30,000 in maintenance fees which drained the life savings of an 88-year-old leaseholder.
They will claim that widowed pensioner Joan Leonard was not properly consulted some eight years ago, nor did she give her approval of work done on the tower block Emberton Court, on the Brunswick estate, Clerkenwell.
The move follows plans for more work on the estate for which Mrs Leonard will be asked to contribute another £8,000.
Retired tailor Mrs Leonard, who has lived on the fifth floor of the estate for more than 60 years, said: “I paid the money for four new windows and two doors. They also replaced a perfectly good boiler.
“But I got a shock when I got the bill. Now they want more money for things like CCTV and repairs. Well, I don’t have it.”
Two of the borough’s most formidable campaigners, Dr Brian Potter, chairman of Islington Leaseholders Association, and student barrister Patricia Napier will take on the case.
The work on the estate was carried out by the now-defunct housing management organisation Homes for Islington in 2008-09.
Dr Potter said: “This is a woman who was forced to spend her entire life-savings on work which probably wasn’t needed. She came to us because she’s being asked to spend more money.”
He added: “We hope of course that rather than a long, protracted tribunal or court case the council will agree to a refund.”
Ms Napier said: “£30,000 is a huge amount of money. I hope to get a great proportion of it back. Mrs Leonard is obviously not a wealthy woman and it appears she was not aware of her rights at the time the work was done.
“The council will have to prove that the work was necessary.”
Councillor James Murray, executive member for housing, said that if any leaseholders have difficulty making the payment a member of the housing team can help them by discussing options.