The gaff prone developer!

EastendHomes Leaseholder & Freeholder Association Launch 19.11.09

EastendHomes – a Leaseholder Stock Take of the First Five years

Tower Hamlets Council and EeH made a nine point commitment to leaseholders in the formal offers made to residents on Stock Transfer of estates from 2004 on.
These included:

  • acting at all times as a reasonable and responsible landlord
  • respecting and protecting the rights of leaseholders
  • maintaining specific leaseholder groups to sustain local accountability

How does EeH track record of the past five years match up to these promises?

EeHlfa has formed out of leaseholders’ experience that EeH is not keeping the promises made to us as a condition of becoming our new landlord

Looking at Service Charges:

  • EeH has done nothing to respect, protect or even recognise leaseholders’ right to challenge the reasonableness of our service charge bills – unlike all other social landlords in Tower Hamlets, including the Council, EeH refuses to put dispute resolution structures in place
  • EeH even refuses to acknowledge the concept of ‘reasonableness’ or of ‘dispute’ in connection with the charges it bills us for

This is an extraordinary retrograde step, which has no place on the agenda of a forward-thinking, reasonable or responsible landlord – it demonstrates a complete failure to acknowledge the importance of working in partnership with us and betrays the kind of reactionary mentality that all other social landlords have left firmly behind them as part of the ‘bad old days’.

Denying leaseholders this basic right and failing to put effective structures for dialogue and negotiation in place results in EeH resorting to extremely costly legal action against its residents. Apart from driving organisational and therefore leaseholder costs UP, this damages and works to destroy any relationship of trust, confidence or goodwill with us.

This attitude is all the more surprising as leaseholders own some 50% of the value of EeH residential property portfolio. EeH was established to enable the financing of a major programme of repair and refurbishment to housing estates suffering long-term neglect.

Looking at Major Works Charges:

  • As leaseholders own half the value of properties on estates transferred to EeH, it is looking to leaseholders to pay half the cost of the necessary repairs. Leaseholders are effectively equal partners in the schemes to redevelop estates, with a legal responsibility, jointly with EeH, to meet bills of tens of millions of pounds.
  • There is an assumption here which has never been made explicit – that leaseholders can actually come up with these sorts of sums of money. EeH refuses to disclose any information to us about the estimated costs involved for leaseholders and these are still entirely unpublicised.
  • There is no specific leaseholder representation at any level of the organisation (unlike all other social landlords in Tower Hamlets, including the Council itself) to ensure any kind of accountability to leaseholders whatsoever.
  • There has been no specific leaseholder input in the consultation and development of any of the regeneration schemes for any of EeH estates. There has been no consideration of the specific impact on leaseholders that these schemes will have.
  • Many leaseholders are on low incomes, including pensioners, and now face the real threat of losing their own homes, unable to take on the burden of paying for the backlog of repairs and the long-standing neglect of the buildings they live in.

EeH Board and Senior Management Team are apparently in denial of these very grave problems faced by nearly half EeH residents. Their action, inaction and attitude are grossly irresponsible and cannot be allowed to continue.

In summary,

EeHlfa now intends to campaign with one loud, clear and concerted voice to raise these issues with EeH, with Tower Hamlets Council and with the external bodies that regulate social housing providers. We will make clear that EeH has reneged on every single commitment to leaseholders contained in the Offers to residents on which Stock Transfer was conditional:

  • EeH now has a demonstrable track record as an unreasonable and irresponsible landlord, which has signally failed to respect or protect the rights of leaseholders.
  • EeH has consistently refused us the opportunity to present a collective case or represent ourselves collectively on the many issues of grave concern to leaseholders.
  • EeH is thereby in breach of the legally binding agreement entered into with Tower Hamlets Council when it took ownership of our estates. We think it is time EeH was called to account by the Council. In this we look to Lead Members to act responsibly and in good faith towards us as Tower Hamlets residents.

Jan Anstey Hayes Interim Chair

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