Published: 20 April, 2012
• READING the council spokesman’s response to the leasehold valuation tribunal’s (LVT) judgment in respect of building work at Merryweather Court and Brennand Court, Archway, readers could be forgiven for thinking the council has valid grounds for appeal, that the LVT had ruled against housing repairs and that costs not borne by leaseholders will be paid for with council tax (Leaseholders’ massive victory over repair costs, April 13).
But once again a judgment following leaseholders’ challenge of their bills reveals failure by the council to properly assess what works are actually needed before starting work, coupled with failure subsequently to condemn poor workmanship.
Money has not only been wasted in respect of the flats of leaseholders who went to the LVT but also the flats of the leaseholders who sat at home and the yet larger number of securely tenanted properties.
Rather than waste yet more money on an appeal, the council’s priority should be to carry out a thorough investigation.
One aspect of the current commercial ethos is for pricing to make allowance for shifting risk away from public bodies, such as local councils, onto private contractors.
Is this what was being done here?
The council seems to have left it to the contractors doing the building work to decide how much they wanted to do and we are left to wonder whether the inspection of completed work was left to them also.
If those decisions are now seen to be wrong then shouldn’t the costs incurred be borne by the contractors?
This would follow if there has been a transfer of risk.
The Decent Homes programme brought millions of borrowed pounds but in the difficult years ahead it will be vital for the council to manage our rent money properly if they are to keep our homes in repair.
Tollington Park, N4
• UNFORTUNATELY many tenants on reading that leaseholders’ bills have been drastically reduced by an independent tribunal will be unaware of its significance to council tenants.
The council pays the contractor’s bill, in full, divides it equally between all the flats in the contract, then presents each leaseholder with a bill for their share of the work.
Since the recent tribunal hearing decided that leaseholders were being grossly overcharged for work, then it follows that the council is grossly overpaying the contractor on behalf of tenants.
To date, Homes for Islington (HfI) has issued close to 100 such contracts, many of which have been successfully challenged by leaseholders, but I have yet to hear of either the council or HfI penalising any contractor with regard to allegations of overcharging.
I have written to the council suggesting that it should now seek redress from contractors. I currently await a reply.
So, to whom do I ultimately attribute this shameful fiasco? Surely the blame must inevitably lie with those who issued the contracts, and then abysmally failed to ensure that the terms were strictly adhered to… the former HfI board of directors.
DR BS POTTER
Chairman, Federation of Islington Tenants’ Associations
Chairman, Islington Leaseholders’ Association
• THE council wants to aid and abet Homes for Islington contractors in appealing against the independent tribunal decision on overcharging leaseholders, which would send a message to contractors that it is okay to rip off residents who live in property owned by the council.
It seems the council may take action to reverse the outcome, which would suggest it puts the profits of contractors before the wellbeing of residents.
Cowdenbeath Path, N1