Service Charges - Lewisham Homes

Hi,

I am a Leaseholder in a property run by Lewisham Homes. I always have huge issues everytime I receive the upcoming year’s service charge estimate. Services added twice, incorrect amounts, direct debits set up incorrectly etc. Are there any other Leaseholders on the forum who are also experiencing these severe administrative errors?

Yes. I have only just received my estimated service charges for 2019/20. They had orreneously added charges from a previous year even though I had already paid them. I feel sorry for the people you speak to and they do try and help. Is frustrating that they don’t offer any insight into why charges may be increasing. Especially as I see no improvement in the service offered. Although in fairness general upkeep and maintenance is pretty good.

1 Like

Hi Johnny. My estimated service charges were also delayed, and when I received it they added an extra £2000 for good measure! It has been amended but now there are other issues. At first I did feel sorry for the staff, but now I have decided that some of them are just really bad at their jobs. Anyway, thanks for the response. I’m considering having a face to face with someone higher up there and was just wanting to know if it is just me, or if other people are experiencing issues.

2 Likes

We owned & lived in a flat on the Woodvale Estate from 1998-2000, & our service charges were always being challenged by us & other leaseholders as they were always ridiculously high or we didn’t understand what we were paying for! So I’m sorry to hear that things haven’t improved!

1 Like

I used to audit these leasehold service charges.

I suggest that you speak to the auditors and ask for an explanation, if you have any query about your service charges.

Hi Sherwood,

Thanks for your reply. Apologies for my ignorance, are the auditors an independent body or are they part of lewisham Council? Is there an easy way to contact them?

Thanks

Hi adj

We (my neighbour and I) having a lot of problems with Lewisham Homes with regards to their charges. Just this month I was able to gain a refund for services that we were being charged for but LH never carried out (apparently it was a mistake on their database). I had to escalate this to the Head of Department before they took us seriously. We’re currently in this ongoing battle with them over an invoice for major works, most of which weren’t carried out.

It may be worthwhile considered joining the Lewisham Homes Leaseholders Alliance, which are a group of leaseholders who are fighting LH as a collective - lewishamcla@gmail.com . They’ve help our estate a lot and without them we would have gotten nowhere in our fight against the major works charges.

2 Likes

I would definitely recommend joining the Leaseholders Alliance, Kat has been a major help with problems with major works and service charges and the Alliance have actually got Lewisham to listen and start being answerable to the fact that leaseholders seem to have been treated as Lewisham’s cash cows for many many years.

Hey @anon21197518, welcome to the thousands of people in this city querying and often successfully disputing service charges :grin:

I would recommend as others have suggested getting in touch and joining the wider group as it looks like this is something that has already been organised.

It is always worth knocking on neighbours doors, even if you don’t already know them, to see if they are interested in joining the action. Most of the time everyone is in the same boat and there’s no harm in asking.

You are entitled to ask for a breakdown of costs and expenditure from Lewisham Homes so I would request that first.

Not a lawyer, but do avoid withholding all your service charge; it might land you in more trouble than it’s worth, some leases are particularly nasty in this regard. But if it comes to it, you can have a look at how well Lewisham Homes does at the First-Tier Tribunal where most disputes end up if they cannot be settled “amicably”:

Myself and some other leaseholders took our freeholders to tribunal earlier in the year after failing to get any sense out of them, and we received a pretty decent outcome.

2 Likes

They are part of Lewisham Council.

Telephone 020 8314 6000 (the main switchboard) and ask for Internal Audit.

I think there should be some reference to them on your notices if they have audited the leasehold service charges on behalf of Lewisham Homes.

Thanks to all of you who have offered great advice. I will act on all of it in the coming weeks and months.

Evening, if you have issues with Lewisham Homes that you cannot resolve, please email us lewishamcla@gmail.com I will address the issues with the head of Leasehold at Lewisham Homes or even higher Seniors if needs be.

Lewisham Homes has a lot of problems. They are currently undergoing changes that our group triggered a year ago. A lot of administrative mistakes happen because they process, input all data manually using excel spreadsheets. Very poor operationaly. Departments are not connected, complains not analysed. Not an excuse though. As a group we will be pushing them hard until all issues are resolved and leaseholders receive good standards of services through out.

I am Kat, one of the coordinators of Lewisham Council Leaseholder Alliance.

4 Likes

Our minutes from the last meeting with CEO in April minutes 23.04.2019.pdf (98.3 KB)

LH response to the questions about Decent Home program Decent Homes questions and answers 2019-06-04.docx (17.6 KB)

Lewisham Homes Corporate Business plan Corporate Plan - Final LR.pdf (1.3 MB)

Progress Report by Lewisham Homes LH progress report 2019-04-18.doc (181.5 KB)

Our next leaseholders meeting will be on 24th July, if interested, please email me for the time and place.

3 Likes

I’d just like to come back at Will who commented last year on ‘How well’ Lewisham Homes does at tribunal.

I realise this comment was made some time back, but am concerned it may unintentionally spread fear in a dissenting leaseholder. One shouldn’t accept that. because LH gets a ruling seemingly in its favour hat it is in any way “doing well”. This was a case that had a badly drawn lease.

In fact the case linked to, LON/00AZ/LSC/2019/0075, was mine. Lewisham Homes brought this after I challenged its right to replace perfectly sound windows in a house with two flats; one of which I am the leaseholder and the person below the social tenant.

LH actually made it seem as if I was against paying a “reasonably incurred” service charge: which I’m not. Being ripped off is another matter entirely.

Firstly, Jon Kanareck of Lewisham Homes said they would not be represented by a solicitor. At the trial it imagine my surprise when I saw a barrister who had clearly been briefed by a law firm. The costs which had to be picked up by Lewisham Homes, not I.

However, it was a neat trick. One Lewisham Homes had either pulled before or had been simply misinformed on. But how that could be seems odd. (Kanareck himself seems a nice guy, so I’d like to think it wasn’t an attempt to misdirect me. But in truth I didn’t care because the Rocky soundtrack was ringing in my ears.)

In addition, there were other ‘moves’.

Prior to the case, the barrister tried to hand me some papers he had prepared to assist the court. The case was heard by a single judge rather than additional experts. Avoid this if it happens to you and tell the judge you would like to postpone for a legal opinion on any late filings. It’s another trick.

In my case Judge Hansen was informal and easy to talk to, so it was a relaxing experience as these things go.

LH, or rather the freeholder, was found to have an obligation to “repair” the windows, which it had never done in the past, and which were deemed part of the structure of the building.

Whilst, contradictorily, the exterior brickwork, sills and guttering were demised to me. Confused? I was. But I didn’t appeal as I didn’t actually care.

My lease did not allow for improvement to be charged, LH having recently forwarded £54,098 as my possibly contribution for these. Go figure.

Lewisham Homes now thinks this gives it the right to change perfectly sound windows that it purchased in 2017, without consultation. But the windows, the judge warned them against any assumption that he was making a ruling on such a right to change them. Like all matters with Lewisham Homes, it’s ongoing.

And didn’t need to be if only they were reasonable, which they are not.

So be brave. Little victories run alongside those of this money-making and self-aggrandising ALMO. (Another Leasehold Manipulating Opportunity?)

I suggest that you research Florrie’s Law.

Mandatory capping of major works service charges for leaseholders of social landlords in England (“Florrie’s Law”)

Briefly, if they apply the Directions limit service charges relating to the costs of repair, maintenance or improvement

  • to £15,000 for a dwelling located within a London authority
2 Likes

Like none of us don’t pay enough already? seriously this country is terrible for constant charges, taxes etc!!
Yet…trying to get money back taken so quickly or challenge such matters is unnecessary drama unfair all round.
Surely this shouldn’t be allowed and why now? It seems the government are desperate to get money back that has been lost due to pandemic or purposely confusing tack tick to see what works to get more.
Most things these days seem to be political sadly that’s my view my opinion and won’t be sorry to say how I am starting to seeing it. I wonder why people are fed up and have had enough of such rubbish!!
I do hope this gets sorted and shut down quickly for the sack of these wonderful people who deserve better and for peace of mind.

Just a reminder that if you want to discuss general politics then please pick your favourite newspaper comment section, or I can highly recommend reddit’s /r/ukpolitics subreddit.

1 Like

Hello,

I’m in the process of buying a flat in the Wood Vale estate, managed by Lewisham Homes. I’m trying to find out as much as I can about the potential of major works, as a potential future leaseholder…

Does anyone know about the likelihood of any major works in the near future? I’m aware that Lewisham Homes are renewing/changing their contractors, but no idea of this is an indicator of upcoming major works, or just a standard process. What have major works bills been like in the past few years, and how much notice have leaseholder been given?

Would be really interested to know about other leaseholders experiences with Lewisham Homes, especially in relation to major works (service charges are a pain of course, but one I can live with!)

1 Like

I am a leaseholder in a Lewisham Homes estate, so happy to give you what I know.

The latest batch of contracts they are procuring is part of their plan to improve their overall repairs service, dubbed responsive repairs. They would have to issue a Section 20 notice if they were planning a major works programme on your specific property.

My flat had already gone through a major works programme a year or so before I bought it, and I had a retention against the vendor for the works as they had yet to be invoiced. The cost came in at £7k under the original estimate, which I suppose is a good sign, but my share was still £14k in total. This was for significant roofing works, new windows, IRS System, and other general repairs to the fabric of the building.

It would be good to check when they last did major works on the building. You can email MajorWorks@lewishamhomes.org.uk to try and find out.

3 Likes

That wasn’t my intention. “Well” can be defined on a scale of “not very” to “exceedingly”.

The reader is welcome to reach their own conclusion after, well, reading the case notes.

1 Like