The Planning and Housing Committee highlights issues within the service charges regime, affecting more than half a million leaseholders, and calls for a change of approach.
This report sets out a number of actions that would make the present service charges regime that more than half a million leaseholders in the capital are subject to operate more equitably.
Highly charged, by Steve O’Connell AM on behalf of the Assembly’s Planning and Housing Committee, draws on a evidence from key stakeholders along with submissions from leaseholders themselves.
Leaseholders highlighted problems with the dispute resolution process, transparency, and the level of consultation about how works are procured and charged for.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- Private landlords and managing agents must make contract procurement and bills more transparent, with key stakeholders like ARMA and RICS setting an example of good practice.
- Companies that promote their services as 100 per cent transparent seem to be boosting confidence in the way leaseholders can access all the information they need to know about how their services are procured and charged for. These best practice principles should be adopted across the sector.
- Private sector landlords should learn from their public sector counterparts as they tend to have more comprehensive consultation processes.
- The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) is asked to review their processes to rule out any unfairness associated with leaseholders conducting their own cases.
- The LVT, in conjunction with LEASE, should set out plans for providing an expanded service offering mediation, pre-application advice and assistance as a cost effective method of improving the dispute resolution process.
- The Government should look at making mediation a compulsory first step of the dispute resolution process to help leaseholders avoid potentially costly court cases altogether.
- Conveyancing solicitors should provide leaseholders with more information up front, the way public sector landlords like local authorities have to.
Read the report, Highly charged: