Leaseholders balk at £10,000 Better Homes contribution for Kingsnympton estate

The Kingsnympton estate is part of Kingston Council's Better Homes programme

The Kingsnympton estate is part of Kingston Council's Better Homes programme

First published in News Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Homeowners on the Kingsnympton estate have been asked to pay up to £10,000 each towards a council house improvement scheme - a fee some have branded "extortionate".

Landlords and resident owners have received letters informing them that impending works under Kingston Council's Better Homes programme is likely to cost them between £8,000 and £10,000 each.

But several leaseholders have contacted the Surrey Comet saying they believe they are being asked to pay well over the odds for the works.

Leaseholder Penny Atkinson, who owns a flat in the estate's Newdigate House, said: "As a landlord, I do maintain my own property and am therefore aware of what it costs, and these prices seem extortionate.

"We have spoken to a number of leaseholders who feel the same. We are not against the Better Homes programme, we believe tenants should have the best homes possible.

"But we run a small business, and we refurbish our properties a lot more than Kingston Council does.

"The council seems to think we have bags of money, but we don't."

The five year Better Homes scheme, which started in 2012, is a major programme of improvement works that will see all of the borough's council-owned housing ultimately exceed Government standards by 2017.

Resident leaseholders receive a five per cent discount if they pay the full amount on demand, or can have up to 10 years to pay the sum, with the first three years interest free.

Non resident leaseholders who rent their properties out must pay in full once work is completed.

Stephen Connor, who owns three properties in Kingsnympton, thinks the deal is unfair on landlords.

He said: "Our problem is with the administration, not Better Homes.

"We want to see a top line before the works start as to how much this will cost, and time to pay it.

"All that work should have been done over the past 10 years as part of general maintenance and added to our monthly service charges, rather than just lumped in as one huge bill.

"Some of us own more than one property on the estate, and so we're going to have to pay huge sums."

A council spokesman added: "The council have decided that concessions should not be extended to non resident leaseholders, many of whom have a portfolio of ex-council flats which they then let out and receive an income.

"To extend that concession to this group would put an unnecessary strain on the council’s finances and reduce the services that it would be able to provide to its tenants and leaseholders in the future."

Councillor Ian George, lead member for housing, added: "People have been waiting a long time for these improvements and they need to be done.

"People who live in their property will have a period of time to pay the money.

"But if buy to let landlords think the council should be helping them out then I'm sorry, I don't think we should."

Richard Grosvenor, secretary of Kingston Federation of Residents, said the Kingsnympton estimates were "in the mid range", with some leaseholders elsewhere paying up to £18,000.

He said: "It comes as a shock to leaseholders who have not been used to receiving such bills.

"But these sort of major improvement works have not been carried out for the past 30 years, and leaseholders are going to benefit.

"The charges are not insignificant but the works are substantial."

But pensioner Juliet Miller, a resident leaseholder who lives in the Kingsnympton flat she bought, said: "This is not a nest egg, this is my home, which I have worked incredibly hard for.

"People do not have this sort of money."

 

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:53am Thu 10 Jul 14

helen59 says...

surely they all knew the risks which would have been stated in the Lease when they purchased the property. Apart from service charge there is always a charge towards the upkeep of the property from the Local Authority.
surely they all knew the risks which would have been stated in the Lease when they purchased the property. Apart from service charge there is always a charge towards the upkeep of the property from the Local Authority. helen59
  • Score: 11

11:12am Thu 10 Jul 14

alphabeti says...

Yes indeed this is a well known risk from the Right To Buy scheme, The owner is liable for a share of improvement works. My heart bleeds for the poor fellow with 3 properties. What sort of capital gain are you sitting on while someone else has been paying your mortgage?
Yes indeed this is a well known risk from the Right To Buy scheme, The owner is liable for a share of improvement works. My heart bleeds for the poor fellow with 3 properties. What sort of capital gain are you sitting on while someone else has been paying your mortgage? alphabeti
  • Score: 12

11:24am Thu 10 Jul 14

DB says...

It is a difficult one because you do sign up for this type of thing when you buy an ex-council flat, but it does appear that the council just allow their own costs to spiral out of control.

I was told by someone inside the council that they employed a company to replace quite a lot of the kitchens in one of the Cambridge Estate towers, and the final costs equated to £10,000 per kitchen! This was many years ago, but still represents far too high a price now.

The problem is that the council don't look at costs in the same way an individual householder does, so when costs they have negotiated end up having to be paid for by individuals they look ridiculously high.
It is a difficult one because you do sign up for this type of thing when you buy an ex-council flat, but it does appear that the council just allow their own costs to spiral out of control. I was told by someone inside the council that they employed a company to replace quite a lot of the kitchens in one of the Cambridge Estate towers, and the final costs equated to £10,000 per kitchen! This was many years ago, but still represents far too high a price now. The problem is that the council don't look at costs in the same way an individual householder does, so when costs they have negotiated end up having to be paid for by individuals they look ridiculously high. DB
  • Score: -8

12:51pm Thu 10 Jul 14

kingstonpaul says...

What, contractors ramping up their charges because the fundiong is from the public purse? Well blow me down, who would ever have thought it..
What, contractors ramping up their charges because the fundiong is from the public purse? Well blow me down, who would ever have thought it.. kingstonpaul
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree