Since this story was first published on the Eastend Homes Leaseholders web-site we have been hearing further reports of heavy handed and disproportionate over reaction by some Eastend Homes staff to issues in the Mile End area.
Over December a number of leaseholders have received recorded delivery letters (see letter here) accusing them of Anti Social Behaviour. The letters have included a pro forma (see it here) for leaseholders to sign confirming that they will not commit further acts that have been deemed as Anti Social Behaviour by EEH.The letters have also stated that future letters will be charged at £75 per letter.
A number of the leaseholders receiving these letters are pensioners in their 70s and 80s, and the nature and content of the letters has caused them considerable distress.
Many of the leaseholders receiving these letters have been residents for 20 plus years, have never knowingly done anything that is a breach of their leases – and certainly have not committed Anti Social Behaviour. Some are what we would call “old school” and have washed down the balcony outside their flats a number of times each week for the last 20 odd years.
So what has justified these letters and the accusations of Anti Social Behaviour – It varies, but as an example having plants outside their flats – now deemed as “rubbish dumping” by EEH.
In our view the letters sent were aggressive and disproportionate to the problems. It would have been far more appropriate to have included an article in one of the magazines EEH issues on a regular basis or a polite letter reminding residents of the conditions of their leases and explaining why these items are considered a problem. For the most part it should not be possible for a resident to receive a letter with an accusation of Anti Social Behaviour without previously having had a polite communication explaining the problem and what needs to be done to correct it.
Whilst we understand EEH need to keep balconies clear of obstructions and deal appropriately with residents who have committed anti social behaviour, we believe these letters were a gross misuse of power and of the term “Anti Social Behaviour”. Anti Social Behaviour legislation was not intended to deal with petty intolerances or minor one off acts, but to deal with serious persistent misconduct that affects the wider community.
With regard to the threat of charging £75 for future letters. We assume EEH are viewing this as a variable administration charge – these are only payable to the extent that the amount of the charge is reasonable, that is the charge should reflect the cost of the letter – our view is £75 seems excessive and could not be justified. If asked to pay this amount leaseholders should question the amount and ask for details of the calculation resulting in this amount – leaseholders should not acknowledge the charge / amount as reasonable or being payable. We can understand EEH wishing to charge individual leaseholders for extra services rather than passing the cost on to all leaseholders but there is a requirement that the charges reflect the work involved, also we think the threat of this charge should not have been included without an explanation of how the charge would be calculated and leaseholders’ rights.
There are a number of free legal advice centres in or near Mile End and we suggest if any leaseholders receive letters that concern them they contact one of these centres for advice.
We would also urge the senior management of EEH to review their processes in connection with the issuing of these letters. The letters are aggressive and disproportionate to the issues they are being used for. They also damage relationships between EEHs and leaseholders.