Calling Islington leaseholders…

Today’s post included an envelope with the now-familiar Electoral Reform Services logo. Not another Lib Dem election? We’ve chosen our Euro candidates, and our Mayoral candidate. Surely the leadership ballots aren’t out yet?

In fact, it’s a ballot for elections to the first ever board – called the Shadow Board – for the new Islington Leaseholders Association. Earlier this year, I was one of the leaseholders who said ‘yes’ to having such an association, so it’s good to see it’s happening.

Being a leaseholder can be the worst of all worlds, particularly when it comes to capital works. If you’re a freeholder, you have to pay for works to your home, but at least you can choose what’s done, when and who does the work. If you’re a tenant, you may have little say in the works, but you don’t have to pay for them. Leaseholders have to pay for the works, but have virtually no say over them. That’s the law; and it’s a mess.

Some extreme cases of leaseholder charges have hit the headlines; where flats are in period properties or even listed buildings and have been neglected for years (as Islington’s housing stock was until recently) then the bills for repairs can be eye-watering. HFI doesn’t shop around among small contractors, it looks for major firms who can handle major works. And while it’s true that the value of your home is increased, that’s no comfort if you don’t have the cash to pay the bills now. And there’s no magic wand – despite (broken) promises from our MP. Most leaseholders don’t face such big bills, but we all deserve the chance to have a say in the decision-making progress.

Unsurprisingly, the makeup of leaseholders has changed since the 1980s. The first generation of leaseholders were the tenants who exercised their right to buy and who have always had dealings with the Council. When the right-to-buy came in, Islington was one of the ‘loony left’ councils that made it as hard as possible for people to buy their homes; combined with a shocking record on repairs and terrible customer service, and Islington leaseholders had a rough time.

Since then, rising property prices mean that ex-council flats may be worth 10 times the discounted price paid at the time. Many have been sold on or let out to private tenants. Homes for Islington (HFI) has replaced Islington Council as the freeholder. And massive investment in housing improvements – by both the Government and the Council – is seeing major works on social housing all over the borough.

Nowadays a growing number of leaseholders are 2nd or 3rd generation purchasers, who deal with HFI as with any other freeholder, and who want a professional service. This means less of a political agenda and more emphasis on continuing improvements in information, communication, value for money, ease of payment and a general sense that leaseholders get decent customer service. One advantage of a larger freeholder is that they can use their buying power to get leaseholders a good deal on building insurance. On the downside, being one of thousands of homes means that the relationship is impersonal.

That’s where the Islington Leaseholders Association comes in. I’ve got the candidates’ election statements; as you would expect, they talk about representation, better services and value for money. I don’t know if we will get the chance to question the candidates; my questions would be:
What is your number 1 priority as an ILA board member?
How will you communicate with the majority of leaseholders who won’t ever come to meetings?
How would you like the success of the ILA board to be judged; what will have changed for leaseholders as a result of your work?

In the meantime, if you are an HFI leaseholder, look out for your ballot paper and don’t forget to vote. The papers have to be in to Electoral Reform Services by noon on Wednesday 28 November.

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6 Comments »

  1. tiscali said

    The charge for this Islington Leaseholders Association is illegal.

    A case has been heard at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal on 29 November about the issue. A decision will be made by the 11 January.

    The whole purpose of setting up an ILA was a political gimmic designed to shore up the one-seat hold of the Lib-Dems over the council. (Leaseholders were the reason why Ms Fox and Mr Hitchins were left blubbing after being ejected at the local elections).

    If Ms Fox wants to earn some brownie points with leaseholders then I suggest she contact London Councils and get a change in a recent policy that they have adopted. This is for a local authority to be allowed to take an equity interest in a leaseholders’ property in lieu of a major works charge).

    You bet Bridget that point is going to be rammed down your throat when you next appear on our doorsteps at the general election.

  2. tiscali said

    Get a life Bridget, Bullet, Bucket, Bollock, Whatsit,

    You’re hopeless as a politician.
    You’re so boring that it’s hardly worth even entering into criticism of you since you’re such a nonentity.

    Do some cross-dressing. Put yourself about a bit at King’s Cross. Flash your tits at Highbury Corner.

    Do something.

    Anything.

    Because the product as it is is completely unfit for purpose.

  3. bridgetfox said

    Thank you for your comments… Please let us know the outcome of the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. As far as your second comment is concerned, I don’t personally favour greater nudity in politics, particularly at this time of year, but it’s a novel suggestion 🙂

  4. michael read said

    Presumably, you’re now convinced of the need for nudity in local politics.

    The charge for an ILA has been ruled illegal by the LVT so your pal El Tel has pissed over £100,000 up the wall on yet another eye-catching venture (after road humps, NCP, cutting down trees).

    Better still, El Tel has just lost control of HFI. Ann Lucas has been dumped off the board in what looks like a schemey by the Labour Party. No more eye catching ventures there either.

    You are doomed.

  5. robert sellwood said

    i feel totally usless .i have got a bill that i can pay but i feel its excessive and quite honistly i dont know what to do.

  6. michael said

    As far as i can see or should i say in my experience mrs p.napier , ila and others. Only attempt to help someone when theres a spotlight on them and you. Attempting to buy flat council add estimated £38,000 for works. Some of it done 5 years ago. Disgusting. Diy i think

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