Tenants and residents of Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) have been sent incorrect service charge estimates for 2022/23, and the errors have affected almost the entire social housing stock.
Despite unsuccessful attempts by many residents to query the charges, some only received confirmation of the error after a local councillor queried charges on behalf of tenants and residents in is constituency. NHG responded:
Unfortunately there were organisation-wide issues with our service charge setting this year after we moved to new system for managing these. The majority of 2022/2023 budget estimates that were sent out at the end of last year were incorrect, … There also appears to have been error on a small number of 2020/2021 final year balances.”Notting Hill Genesis
Any organisation invoicing residents should be unstinting in its duty to make sure that every penny is correctly allocated. But for an organisation as large and well-resourced as NHG, this scale of error is inexcusable. Estimates should have been checked for accuracy before they were sent out. Their admission of failings demonstrates that the organisation does not have a proper grip of its finances.
Notting Hill Genesis is one of the largest housing associations in London and the south east. It owns and manages over 66,000 homes and employs around 2,000 staff.
In 2020/21, NHG collected £48 million in service charges on social housing lettings alone, and amassed an operating surplus of £119 million.
Molly, an NHG tenant has spoken publicly of her shock on seeing the service charge estimate for her small flat in west London. She described the charges as “absolutely horrific” and explains that they contained a number of new charges including bulk waste and graffiti removal, and three additional elements for fire risk assessments.
Refusing to accept large service charge hikes, Molly is withholding part of her service payment. She did so after making several fruitless attempts to engage with NHG to find out why they had risen so sharply in a single year. While no responses were forthcoming from the service charge department, she has instead been hounded by the rent department telling her (wrongly) that she is in rent arrears.
Tenants and residents believe that the board must be held accountable for financial control and service failings, and for the enormous distress and anxiety caused to households.
SHAC members who are tenants and residents of NHG now meet regularly to direct campaigning for better services, communication, and repairs. Register with SHAC to receive automatic invitations to the meetings and regular updates. See here for more details.
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