Service charge

Inside Housing – Insight – The Week in Housing: tenants take a stand on rental charges

Overview of the main news of the week for housing professionals

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Round-up of the main news of the week for housing professionals #ukhousing

Good afternoon.

Ask any tenant what is one of their biggest problems with owning a leasehold property and I bet you nine out of 10 will mention service charges at least once.

Skyrocketing year-over-year growth, lack of transparency, paying to maintain a TV in a gym – these are all complaints I’ve heard from tenants unhappy.

But other than getting angrier and angrier, writing heavily worded letters, or in extreme cases taking your landlord to property court, the lease system doesn’t allow a person to do much.

However, there has been a growing movement in recent months that has seen housing association tenants take the decision to go on strike and not pay their service charges.

Supported by the Social Housing Action Campaign (SHAC), we have seen tenants from a number of leading housing associations take the decision to strike until their fee issues of service have been settled. SHAC has listed 20 owners on its website.

This week residents of L&Q’s Capworth Court Estate in Leyton became the latest strikers. They said they won’t pay again until the owner responds to 11 requests, such as carrying out an independent audit of how it allocates service fees.

The repercussions of non-payment of service fees can be potentially huge, with possession proceedings being the last step. But it seems some locals have had enough and are willing to take the risk.

We will continue to follow the story.

Elsewhere, the government’s Fire Safety Act has come into force.

The law, which was introduced as part of the post-Grenfell reforms, features a number of significant changes, including ensuring that exterior walls must now be considered as part of fire risk assessments.

London firefighters believe this is a good thing and will clear up when they can respond. Earlier this week, they pledged to take enforcement action against building owners who fail to comply.

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