Leaseholders cannot have changes unilaterally imposed upon them say Residential Properties Tribunal
“…..the Tribunal is minded to refuse the variations numbers 1,2, and 4. The first amendment is not which is acceptable to the great majority of leaseholders rather than being unilaterally imposed upon them.” Mr P Leighton – Chair LVT
From the exciting news that appeared in the EastendHomes newsletter last August you would think that the changes to leases across all Eastendhomes properties was done and dusted. Full consultation with residents and we are all moving ahead to a bright new future in unison. Happy days are here again…… They say on page 5 of the leaflet that:-
“The work on this is almost complete and is planned to use the new method for the 2011-2012 estimated service charges”.
That was not quite so….
You cannot just go around changing leases just like that – there is a legal process at the Residential Properties Tribunal Service to go through. Residents from Loweswater House E3 went to the Residential Properties Tribunal on 16th December 2010 and their decision has just been made public.
The barrister who represented the Leaseholders of Loweswater House (thanks to the EEHLFA) said in his submission on residents behalf presented at the Tribunal:-
“The Applicant does not appear to have bought this Application with the benefit of any specialist legal advice. In order to avoid the Respondents incurring further irrecoverable expenditure in opposing this claim (which, it is submitted is largely without any jurisdictional basis), it is respectfully requested that the Applicant do so now”. (read full version here PDF)
At the pre-trial meeting on 8th August 2010 Mr Brayshaw with Ms Lebile-holo representing EastEndhomes explained that Loweswater House was chosen because there are “particular issues there at the moment” and they wish to make the proposed changes to see how it goes. Mr Brayshaw went on to state that they could learn from this and would be treated as a “pilot scheme” prior to possibly rolling the changes out across all EastendHomes Estates.
Well Mr Brayshaw and Ms Lebile-holo (who has since taken a career enhancement opportunity elsewhere) may learn something from the decision. (download here PDF – sorry large download – smaller version to come).
Mr Korn who conducted the pre-trial meeting did comment that it “doesn’t appear that they (EEH) have consulted with residents which does not appear to be good practice”.
The only variation allowed is to include a power to charge interest on late payments of service charge. The other 3 variations relating to costs, repairs and proportions are ” not permissible unilaterally” and would be “best secured by agreement with the majority of lessees.
EastendHomes say they are committed to full consultation with all residents, including leaseholders, about proposed changes to policies or practices which may affect services….. So how did the leaseholders of Loweswater House get to hear about the proposed changes to their leases? The first hint of the changes came from an official letter from the Land Valuation Tribunal informing them of an application from EastendHomes to vary the lease details. Proposals to change the contracts of residents were not consulted on. This autocratic behaviour goes against the basic proposals they set out when transfer from Tower Hamlets happened in 2004.