Secret housing dossier shows Tory betrayal of leaseholders

A secret report blocked by Barnet's Conservatives, but recently obtained by Labour councillors, reveals how Barnet Homes planned to help leaseholders in financial difficulty by allowing them more time to repay major works bills of up to £35,000.

The secret report was obtained by West Hendon Labour councillor Adam Langleben through a Freedom of Information request and shows the concessions Barnet Homes were planning to give leaseholders. 

Residents facing major works costs of between £3,001 and £5,000 would have seen an extension of interest free repayments from 24 months to 36 months. Those facing bills between £7,501 and £15,000 would have their interest free repayment period extended from 24 months to 48 months.

Leaseholders living on regeneration estates such as the West Hendon estate have been facing bills of up to £10,000 for works which have a life expectancy of 25 years but due to scheduled demolition these leaseholders would only see up to five or six years’ worth of usage. Barnet Homes had proposed to alter the repayment schedule for works on the West Hendon estate to recognise the full 25 years’ worth of usage.  When leaseholders are forced to leave their properties because of demolition, the debt would be cleared and they would only pay pro rata for the period they benefited from the works. This was originally proposed to Barnet Council and Barnet Homes by Andrew Dismore AM in early 2014.

The proposed concessions followed intensive campaigning from the West Hendon Labour councillors and the leaseholders affected.

At the Housing Committee meeting on 27 October, Conservative Chair Cllr Tom Davey confirmed that he had seen the report and that he had personally blocked it from coming to the committee. Cllr Davey refused to give a reason as to why he had blocked the report but was absolutely clear that his decision was final and it would not be coming back.

Cllr Adam Langleben said: "Only one word sums this up: Betrayal. This secret dossier which the Conservatives have tried to hide is now public and leaseholders from across the borough who have been hit by the hidden costs of ‘right to buy’ will no doubt feel aggrieved at the local Conservatives. Many Barnet Homes officers are doing everything they can to help people under increasingly difficult circumstances, and were planning a much fairer repayment scheme, but are being blocked every step of the way by their Tory masters. Labour councillors will be bringing the secret paper back word for word and will insist on a vote so the Conservatives can publicly stand by their betrayal or stand up for local residents in serious financial hardship inflicted on them by this Council."

Notes:

1. Cllr Adam Langleben is a Labour Councillor for West Hendon ward

2. The Housing Committee met on 27th October 2014 and footage of Cllr Langleben asking the Chair about this secret paper can be found here at approx. 1:48: http://www.barnetbugle.com/journal/2014/10/28/video-housing-committee-27-october-2014.html

3. The secret report which never made it to the Housing Committee can be found at http://www.andrewdismore.org.uk/home/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/leaseholder-repayments.pdf

4. The press release sent out by Andrew Dismore on 28 October can be found here: http://www.dismore4hendon.co.uk/dismore_condemns_barnet_conservatives_betrayal_over_10_000_bills_for_west_hendon_leaseholders

5. Background to the story can be found at http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11045090._Scandalous____Barnet_Homes_forces_neighbours_to_pay___10_000_of_repairs_on_flats_earmarked_for_demolition/  and at http://www.finchley-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=6989&searchWord=leaseholders&searchYear=2014 

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