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ISSUE No. 96 Spring 2011


Happy Birthday FPRA By the Editor


It’s Happy New Year to our members and Happy Birthday FPRA! This year the Federation is 40 years old. That’s four decades of representing leaseholders’ interests and campaigning for a better deal for flat owners.


Special mention should go to current FPRA committee members who were there almost from the start: Philippa Turner, a lawyer, who has given her expert advice to members since about 1973 and who writes the Legal Jottings for this newsletter, and Mike Derome, a scientist and our current Hon Treasurer, who joined in 1981 and is a director of a (very large) residents’ management company.


Our first main event of the year is an important one, our SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING at 5 PM ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 at THE VICTORY SERVICES CLUB, 63-79 SEYMOUR STREET, LONDON W2 2HF. The meeting is needed to effect a change called for by members, that the FPRA dispense with fully audited accounts and rely on an accountant’s report, thus saving about £1,000 a year.


This meeting is not just about the dry business of amending our Articles of Association however! Shadow Minister Alison Seabeck MP has agreed to attend the meeting (subject to emergency Parliamentary business) to meet FPRA members and hear about leaseholder problems. We are also delighted to welcome to the meeting Barry Gardiner MP, who has a long interest in helping leaseholders, has been involved in much of the legislation over recent decades and is a former chairman of the All Party Leaseholder Group. We hope as many FPRA members as possible will come along and tell them how they think how Parliament could improve the lot of leaseholders.


Campaigning 2011 will see the FPRA continue its campaigning role. Chairman Bob Smytherman began the year by writing to Prime Minister David Cameron about “forgotten leaseholders”, asking that the “Big Society” could mean that leaseholders were not just sidelined into the Department of Communities and Local Government but that all legislation that might affect leaseholders should take account of their interests.


“What has happened for many years is that other Government departments fail to appreciate that legislation they are consulting on and drafting has an impact on the leasehold sector with frequent unintended costly consequences,” Bob told the PM.


Bob has also written to the Minister for Housing and Local Government Grant Shapps, requesting a meeting. Bob told him Ministers showed little regard for the problems faced by more than two million leaseholders and these problems were not being addressed.


These are the issues FPRA wants to talk to the Minister about: 1. Service charges – excessive and frequently unprotected.


2. Insurance – consistently excessive and concealed. 3. Legislation – so complex that leaseholders cannot exercise or understand their rights. 4. Energy efficiency – leaseholders effectively excluded from most schemes. 5. Funds – unregulated. Is there another area where £1 billion plus of consumers’ money is unprotected? 6. Unfair exit charges in retirement leasehold – normal despite being unfair. 7. Government departments – ignoring leasehold sector time and time again.


FPRA also wants to persuade Mr Shapps that the Government should continue to fund LEASE, the Leasehold Advisory Service. We have invited Mr Shapps to our AGM on November 9, but do not yet know if he can attend.


Progress


Our appeal to the Government to set out clear guidance on responsibility for fire safety in blocks of flats has elicited an encouraging response.


Continued on page 3


INSIDE THIS ISSUE Leasehold Life


Underinsurance Legal Jottings Ask the FPRA


– Snow and Ice Special


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NEWSLETTER


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