(Cross-posted from NHG Residents).
Leasehold activists from L & Q and NHG are emailing MPs about the upcoming debate on leasehold on Thursday 5th September in the House of Commons.
Housing activists from these two housing associations want a promise from their MPs that they will be attending the debate.
If you want to do the same as a leaseholder, shared owner or resident of your housing association, please feel free to amend this letter and sent it off to your MP.
But please be quick! The debate is happening, in theory, on Thursday 5 September – in 3 days!
The template letter below is based on the L & Q letter below (please amend it giving examples of what is happening in your housing association – but send it quickly!).
The MPs listed are from areas where NHG and L & Q operate but most MPs will have housing associations in their constituency.
And finally mark it ‘urgent.’ MPs have a lot on their plate right now and will not read anything unless it is urgent.
To: Members of Parliament
The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, Tulip Siddiq
The MP for Brent North, Barry Gardiner
The MP for Brent Central, Dawn Butler
The MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck
The MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad
The MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Rupa Huq
The MP for Lewisham West & Penge, Ellie Reeves
The MP for West Ham, Lyn Brown
The MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, Rushanara Ali
The MP for Edmonton, Kate Osamor
The MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Neil Coyle
The MP for Enfield and Southgate, Bambos Charalambous
The MP for Carshalton & Wallington, Tom Brake
The MP for Epping Forest, Eleanor Laing
3 September 2019
Dear Members of Parliament,
RE: Leasehold debate in the House of Commons on 5th September 2019
We are homeowners / leaseholders of [housing association] properties in your constituencies.
We are writing this letter to ask you to attend the leasehold debate scheduled in the House of Commons on 5th September 2019.
Our experiences with the leasehold system are as follows:
- Escalating service charge costs with no change or with a decrease in service levels. We have seen service charges escalating up to an extortionate amount of £3,372 year even for one-bedroom flats in no-frill blocks.
- No upfront explanations of cost increases. The lack of regulation with regard to service charges increases fails to protect consumers.
- Blatant use of 3rd party contractors that can only be described as rip-off artists; we have evidence of cases where repairs / works were not carried out but charged for, or not completed to an acceptable standard. There is a fundamental lack of Code of Practice setting out minimal standards of services provided.
- A fundamentally flawed system of power imbalance whereby the freeholder has no financial stake in ensuring the property management company is providing services at reasonable cost; conversely leaseholders have to shoulder these costs but have very limited recourse to demand changes to ensure costs are reasonable; going the legal route presents great financial risk to leaseholders because of the legal loophole allowing landlords / service management companies to recoup legal costs through the service charge even when the First Tier Tribunal rule that they have lost the case.
- Refusal by [housing association] to provide certificate of fire safety to leaseholders and certificate of safe cladding / insulation materials, which in post-Grenfell housing market are now required by mortgage lenders. We now have known cases of leaseholders in [housing association] blocks unable to sell their property.
- Onerous administrative and permission fees which were not disclosed to buyers prior to exchange. Such mis-selling tactics must be addressed by the CMA.
- Leaseholders suffering great levels of stress and their mental health being affected. We are living with a constant worry of being a target of financial exploitation by housing assoications; not having any control of the increasing costs and being pushed outside affordability to retain our homes. Residents of some [housing association] blocks and flats suffer from leaks, disrepairs and ongoing failures of hot water / heating supply; having little control over when and if the repairs will be carried out and constant chasing of the housing association to remind them of their duty to maintain our homes puts leaseholders’ mental health under pressure.
We would like to ask you, as MPs of our constituencies, to present our experiences in the Parliamentary debate and engage in a discussion on bringing about reforms that would have a positive impact on the financial security and quality of life of millions of leaseholders in England and Wales. We also ask that you will take on board results from the extensive enquiries held by the CMA and Lord Best’s group earlier this year and that you review recommendations for leasehold and commonhold reforms proposed by the APPG and Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.
APPG for Leasehold and Commonhold Reform
We would like to thank Barry Gardiner, MP Tulip Siddiq, MP Lyn Brown, MP Rushanara Ali, MP Kate Osamor, MP Neil Coyle, MP Bambos Charalambous, Emma Dent Coad, for being members of the APPG for Leasehold and Commonhold Reform and giving their support and time to the much needed reforms.
We would also like to encourage Dawn Butler, Karen Buck, MP Ellie Reeves, MP Rupa Huq, MP Tom Brake and MP Eleanor Laing to join the APPG group and advocate on behalf of their constituents affected by the leasehold scandal. Our representatives of leasehold developments owned by housing associations in your constituencies will be more than happy to meet with you in person to explain the benefits of leasehold reforms. Ms Reeves and Ms Huq will be aware that leasehold reforms form a crucial part of election program for the Labour Party.
We look forward to receiving a confirmation of your attendance of the upcoming leasehold debate on 5th of September.
We hope also that you will feel able to attend the meeting the Leasehold APPG group which will take place on Monday 9th September
Please attend debate and that APPG meeting to lend your voice and influence to ensure that we can really change the direction of travel on this for the millions of ordinary people who are caught up in this unfair system.