Landlord wins tribunal over £5m repair row
Leaseholders of eight blocks of maisonettes which underwent a £5 million repair and refurbishment have lost their bid to avoid paying thousands of pounds towards the cost of the work.
The leaseholders applied to the Leaseholder Valuation Tribunal (LVT) last year after the repairs had been carried out, claiming they were not adequately informed and that the costs were unreasonable.
Herefordshire Housing Limited, the landlord, was asking for £17,500 per maisonette towards the cost of the works - a fraction of the £46,500 total cost for each flat.
The tribunal concluded that the majority of the charges were fair and reasonable, and that substantial improvements had been made, describing Hertfordshire Housing’s charge to the leaseholders as ‘generous’ in its report.
Had the leaseholders been able to prove they were not adequately informed, the full amount payable would have been slashed to a service charge of just £250.
Charges were only slightly revised by the tribunal, to £15,000 per leaseholder. Deductions were made for lengthy delays and unnecessary improvements.
The work transformed the blocks into modern apartments, with a new pitched roof, new windows, and new rendering to replace the grey shingle exterior.
Residents claimed they only received notice of Herefordshire Housing’s plans before July 2009 - after the Online Journal of the European Union was notified of the plans.
Yet just a few weeks before the tribunal evidence came to light of a ‘crucial’ April 2009 notice being delivered to leaseholders.
The tribunal conceded that ‘there were undoubtedly some significant problems with the management of the works.’
However, the ruling came down squarely in favour of the housing association, which manages nearly 6,000 homes in the county.
The report stated: ‘Only a portion of the sum spent is being sought from the applicants, and the maisonettes have been enhanced in value by the blocks now being significantly improved including as to roofing, thermal efficiency and visual appearance.’
Peter Brown chief executive of the Herefordshire Housing said: ‘Our customers deserve the best and we have invested over £62m improving homes across the county. This legal decision confirms that we listened carefully to comments and acted reasonably. The leaseholders must pay their fair share.’