Residents of a Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) estate in east London have threatened to withhold payment of service charges in dispute which includes a ‘missing’ £100,000 from the building’s sinking fund which they want refunded.
Sinking funds are pots of money that residents pay into, exclusively reserved for any major maintenance or repairs needed to keep the buildings and estate in good order.
MTVH claims the charge was for historic maintenance work but the law imposes an 18 month limit on how far back landlords can go.
Organising to Resist
The residents’ association has collectively agreed six issues they want MTVH to resolve across the 100-home estate as a matter of urgency. If not, they have warned MTVH that their next steps will be to withhold payment of service charges.
Lance*, a resident of the estate explained:
“MTVH have had these issues for weeks and weeks, and some cases for months. We have been calling and emailing MTV but don’t seem to have moved forward. The mood we have as residents of MTVH is at rock bottom. We can’t see how we can make them listen except by withholding payment”.Lance – MTVH Resident
Among the issues that residents complain of is a botched refitting of some windows. MTVH failed to accurately brief the contractor on the number of windows needing replacement, resulting in only half the required number being commissioned.
Rectifying the error requires a new commissioning process and will probably cost more. Residents want MTVH to make up the difference and compensate them for the inconvenience caused.
Service Charges Inaccurate
Alongside these errors, other problems include double-charging for emergency lighting at £11,827, that a £7,003 bill for communal asbestos checks is inaccurate, and that a charge of £19,000 for external cleaning over a six-year period is unjustified because residents say “it was clearly not done”.
MTVH owns around 57,000 homes mostly in London and the Midlands. It claims to have a five-year plan entitled ‘Serving People Better Every Day’ which began in April 2021 and which aims to “improve the customer experience, invest in more people’s home, and support people to live well”. Tenants and residents at Royal Mint Court and East Ferry Road among others have yet to feel the benefit 18 months on.
SHAC Campaigns at MTVH
The residents are being supported in their campaign by SHAC. The MTVH branch meets regularly and recently met with the chief executive, Geeta Nanda, and other members of the executive team to discuss the concerns of tenants and residents.
In May, leaseholders of East Ferry Road won a partial victory in relation to several issues on their estate after withholding service charge payments (MTV Residents Score Partial Victory but Strike On!).
Register with SHAC to receive invitations to the MTVH branch meetings, or for action in relation to other housing association landlords.
* Not his real name
8 September 2022
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