ISSUE No. 103 Winter 2012
COMPLAIN TO YOUR MPs,
LEASEHOLDERS URGED By the Editor unhappiness existing at present. This particularly applies to leaseholders,” she said
A very successful 41st FPRA AGM 2012 saw about 250 people throng to Hamilton House in London for an interest-filled evening.
Apart from the AGM there was a leasehold exhibition and legal advice surgeries. Workshops were led by FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman on residents’ associations; on service charges and right to manage by Richard Wheeldon of Lease Unleashed; on insurance by Paul Robertson of 1st Sure Flats Insurance; on LVTs by John Byers of Langley Byers Bennett; and on enfranchisement and lease extension by Mark Chick of Bishop and Sewell.
The keynote speech was by the Rt Hon Baroness Gardner of Parkes, complemented by a second speaker, Chris Paterson of the thinktank CentreForum.
Baroness Gardner, who regularly raises leasehold issues in the House of Lords, urged leaseholders to make their MPs aware of their problems. Housing was an “intensely political issue”, she said.
The Housing Acts should be consolidated, she said. The law at present was a piecemeal affair. It should be clear, simple and current. She supported the views of the FPRA in their paper Forgotten Leaseholders.
“What we all need, and are waiting for, are actions to deal with the enormous degree of confusion, lack of clarity, and general
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Pictures from the AGM
Ask the FPRA Insurance Commission –
the Debate Legal Jottings
The Baroness has owned a leasehold property for over 20 years and has had her own share of problems. “About three and a half years ago, the roof immediately above my flat collapsed in a storm and the flat was uninhabitable. The new roof required special payments from each tenant, my share was suddenly £25,000 but what was worse was that supposedly on grounds of health and safety no temporary repairs to the roof were instigated and as the water ingress continued the flat immediately below mine was also badly damaged. For more than two and a half years, my flat could not be used.
“Most modern leases have what is called a sinking fund to cover major unexpected building repair costs. Our block has no such fund and I find it is a disadvantage to say the least. Others write to me stating that they resent having to pay in to a sinking fund.”
She also received many letters about service charges. “Over two million leaseholders pay more than half a billion pounds annually in service charges – half a million of these people are in London alone,” she said. “Who is holding the money? How secure is the fund? And how transparent is the handling of such money?
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“Residential tenants’ deposits are protected by the law but the much larger amount, the leaseholders’ money held by managing agents, has no protection. Leaseholders are entitled to know how their money is spent and to be confident that they are getting what they have paid for. There are too many cases where intermediate landlords or management responsible for arranging for services such as insurance have agreed contracts which mean that they are pocketing money themselves to the detriment of their tenants. Transparency is necessary to reveal these situations and stop this abuse.”
Calling for the regulation of managing agents, and for an obligation on managing agents to have client money protection insurance, she said: “Accountability and transparency are essential aspects of any regulatory system
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