Leaseholders win at tribunal

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A HOUSING association has come under scrutiny for the way in which it charges its leaseholders.

In 2008, Havebury Housing Partnership hiked its management fees by more than 500 per cent, a move that it attributed to changes in legislation.

It affected 184 leaseholders in St Edmundsbury, many of whom are living on pensions.

For John Colwell’s parents, who live in Derwent Road, Bury St Edmunds, this meant a jump from £27.39 per year to £164.21, a figure that was later reduced to £141.43.

In December last year John, acting as agent for his parents, took Havebury to a Residential Property Tribunal Service and won.

His parents’ fees were reduced to £90 after the tribunal ruled that Havebury’s management fees were unreasonable and were calculated using a ‘deeply flawed’ formula.

They were also reimbursed for overpaying for three years after the charges were raised.

But the Colwells’ neighbours, who live in the same maisonette properties in the same street, are frustrated with the higher fees that they are still expected to pay.

Audrey Bishop, 84, said: “It’s the principle of it, if they’re identical plots why should it be cheaper for one and not the other?”

“It doesn’t sit very well on my shoulders and it’s all got to come out of my pension,” said Jean Wales, 74.

Havebury says it has changed the way it calculates its fees in response to the tribunal’s decision and that leaseholders are now being charged individually according to the terms of their lease – Havebury’s management fees are higher for leases that stipulate they must provide more services. Anyone who has misplaced their lease can get a free copy by contacting Liz Row on 01284 722053.

Leaseholders who have overpaid since 2008 can expect to receive reimbursement cheques.