Consultation Crammer

This is important – please take urgent action.

The deadline is 23.45 on 26th November

We have an amazing opportunity to say what we think, and as “consumers” of estate charges we are the experts. Please spend some time completing the governments questionnaire, every single answer counts!

Far be it from us to put words into your mouths, in fact the opposite is true, you have given us the evidence for our campaign message and put words in ours!

Just to make it a bit easier, here are some thoughts you might want to consider before you answer:

Question 22 and 23 relate to estate charges on freehold (fleecehold homes), if you are a leaseholder, please answer as many questions as you can. It is not necessary to answer questions which don’t apply to you.

The government have totally failed to recognise that estate charges are onerous terms for leaseholders on private estates as well. Their focus on freehold home owners is too narrow, and whilst regulation might improve standards of service and value for money in some cases, it is not the answer, and would only prop up a system created by developers to deliver sub standard estates on the cheap and then have their mates run them at the expense of the home owners.

Their approach is fundamentally a PR exercise which will not address the issue of construction of sub standard estates and “21st century blight”. They need to put in place measures which ensure that estates are built to adoption standards and then adopted. They could enable local authorities to raise funds in new ways to pay for the maintenance of public open spaces, rather than rely on the estate dwellers alone.

We know from leaseholders that the statutory protections they have do not work well for them, and are expensive, stressful and time consuming. Why should it be any different for estate charges?? The First-tier Tribunal allows the landlord to hire expensive legal representatives, so it is no longer the low cost simple option it was first intended to be. Even if a leaseholder wins the case, the managing agent may be able to charge for their legal costs via the service charge.

Right to Manage is complex and hard work. It may be necessary where there are blocks of flats with common areas, but it is not necessary for estates. The private estate model is an entirely manufactured money making device for the benefit of the property management industry and the developers. Housing estates which were not gated communities were put up for adoption in the past without any problem.

In summary, we do not believe that access to the First-tier Tribunal and Right to Manage for freeholders on private estates are adequate measures to address all of the problems caused by the widespread use of the model by developers. Government have failed to recognise that leaseholders also pay estate charges, as do some residents in social housing. Calling for these measures assumes that the implementation of residential estate charges is the only problem and fails to address the much more fundamental issue of sub standard estate infrastructure leading to future blight.

Whilst it is clearly necessary to have management of shared areas in blocks of flats, the same cannot be said of housing estates. The “private estate” is an artificial construct designed to make money from estate residents and from which they gain minimal benefit.

PS this isn’t meant to be a script, just use any of it you agree with for Q22

With regard to Q23, you might need to restrain yourselves from saying what you would like to happen to your management company!

Here is the link to the consultation.  You can download and read the pdf before you answer the questions online and its a good idea to write out your answers in a word processor first so you can copy and paste into the online form and not get timed out.

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