Leaseholders struggle as service charges soar

Greenwich Council has been steadily raising the charges faced by leaseholders over recent years leaving many of them struggling to pay the amounts demanded.  In one Council block in Eltham, the charges are now over £1,000 having risen each of the last three years, despite Council claims that average charges are diminishing.

 

Following a question by Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury, the Labour Cabinet Member suggested what the average level of service charge was for the last three years, however, this is completely at odds with the level of charges faced by leaseholders in Eltham North ward (which Spencer represents).

 

Year

Council’s average bill (according to Cabinet Member)

Bill for a leaseholder in a flat in Strongbow Crescent

2010/11

£738.80

£610.30

2011/12

£749.51

£730.42

2012/13

£689.68

£1023.64

 

So while the Labour-run Council claims leaseholder charges have fallen by 7% since 2010/11, the average leaseholder in Strongbow Crescent has seen an increase of 68%.

 

If the charges are broken down further to take out potential one-off costs distorting the figures, it is possible to see how the Council has been steadily raising the costs paid by leaseholders without actually improving the service at all:

 

Service charge category

Increase from 2010/11 to 2012/13

caretaking to block

+67.8%

lift servicing

+46.6%

management fee

+35.8%

 

 

Spencer said “The answer I received from the Cabinet Member for Housing is completely at odds with the experience of leaseholders in my ward who are being asked to contribute more that £1,000 each year to cover the service charges to their Council run blocks.  I feel that the Labour-run Council is simply using leaseholders to subsidise their incompetent management of the blocks.  Leaseholders in Council blocks are often some of the poorest home-owners in our community and they should be supported not persecuted, which seems to be the approach of the current Council.”

 

If you are a leaseholder and would like to let us know the level of service charges in your block, please email Cllr Spencer Drury (Leader of the Opposition) at spencer@spencerdrury.com or write to him at Greenwich Conservatives, 74 Westmount Road, Eltham, SE9 1TE.  Alternatively please contact Conservative Housing spokesman Cllr Adam Thomas at adam.thomas@hotmail.co.uk

 

Text of question from Cllr Spencer Drury to Cabinet Member in January 2014.

 

21. Question from Councillor Spencer Drury, to Councillor Steve

Offord, Cabinet Member for Housing.

 

Could the Cabinet Member provide an estimate of the average bill from the Council facing leaseholders in Council blocks for each of the last three years and the estimated bill for next year?

 

Please could the bills be broken down to allow comparison between similar types of dwellings e.g. tower blocks or low-rise blocks and flat sizes i.e. by number of bedrooms?

 

Reply –

 

I thank Councillor Drury for his question.

 

The average bill/service charge for the past 3 years is as follow:

 

2010/11 = £738.80

2011/12 = £749.51

2012/13 = £689.68

 

The estimated bill for 2014/15 is based on the last set of actual costs, so the average is estimated to be approximately £690.00. The charges are based on the services received at each block and/or estate and the rateable value of each flat/block/estate and are not split charges by way of bedroom size or whether the property is in a low or high rise block.