Brockley leaseholders win overcharging legal fight

Steven Mills writes:

After four years of legal proceedings, leaseholders of ex-Lewisham Council properties in Brockley which are managed by the PFI consortium Regenter B3 have won their case that they were overcharged for renovation work carried out in 2007-09.

The decision comes after an appeal brought forward by Lewisham Council against an original Tribunal decision that the 38.6% fees should be halved, an appeal which cost Lewisham around £300,000 in legal fees despite we leaseholders representing ourselves.

While Lewisham won on some of the points, we did manage to show that the PFI overcharged the amount of profit it should make. More crucially Lewisham's attempt to hide-behind the PFI contract and its confidentiality clauses was closed down by the Tribunal's order for it to be released. This showed that the PFI had some leaseholders over prescribed limits.

This result builds on the other case we took to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal in 2011 which agreed that the work carried out by the PFI – particularly by Higgins Construction – was substandard, overpriced, and in some cases unnecessary. Higgins Construction is now no longer part of the PFI - thankfully.

Lewisham has this week confirmed that it is in the process of re-issuing final bills to all leaseholders in Brockley, though they have not been able to say how they will reimburse people who have since sold their properties and moved on. Not all leaseholders will be entitled to a rebate because of the way that bills were capped.

We leaseholders are very pleased to have this process concluded – we did not have legal support or the resources that Lewisham seemed to be prepared to throw at the case. We hope also that Lewisham Council learns lessons from this case and makes sure that any future renovations carried out by the new PFI contractors, Rydon, are up to scratch.

If any leaseholders managed by Regenter B3 want some help and advice, they should look at our blog or contact us at brockleyleaseholders@gmail.com

11 comments:

We deserve better said...

What an appalling waste of public money. Why do public bodies make such a mess of these contracts, then hide behind confidentiality clauses to protect themselves? They should be transparent in their dealings and the excessive charges made by these poorly performing contractors measured by an impartial outside body. It is not rocket science.

So which councillors and officers of Lewisham council were responsible for scrutinising these contracts to ensure public money was spent responsibly? To think of all the stress that these huge bills would have caused individuals and families.


Congratulations to the leaseholds for organising themselves and defending themselves. It should never have been necessary.

Neil said...

I would suggest anyone receiving a refund should charge a 10% management fee as Regenter did. And 26% professional fees.
Also, as Lewisham Council has overpaid 2% on a £72m contract, I make that £1,440,000 that they need to return to council tax payers...

CB said...

Good for you for standing up to this. A friend of mine had to pay as she was selling and had no choice...I hope something is paid also to people in that situation. It sounded ludicrous from what I've heard; congratulations. Let's hope you success has some deterrant value for the future, too, so people are not put in similar situations again...

JD said...

That Lewisham and the Mayor thought it worth spending that much money is a joke: I wonder how much money they saved with the small victories that they achieved? I doubt it would be that much because of the way the £10000 cap works.

And I see that our council tax bills have gone up... one of the few in London. No doubt to pay for Regenter's spiralling costs....

JD said...

Labour signed this contract, and lo and behold neither of the two labour councillors seem to care. Only the Greens really care and have tried to help... but they can only go so far as a minority party.

Guest said...

Lewisham Council needs new leadership. I am tired to hear about how bad they are, and how much tax payers money they waste. If the voters in Lewsiham continue to vote for the same old farts, this will always be the result.

Monkeyboy said...

shoddy contract letting and management but lets not forget that the contractors themselves are also culpable.

Goooo said...

Will anyone at LC be held to account for this and punished?

headhunter said...

This has been an absolutely shocking waste of time and money by the council since the whole saga commenced... I can't believe hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' funding has been blown by the council. Last week I received my council tax bill which has increased, along a letter saying that the reduction in central government funding is to blame for this.... How about not setting up badly managed PFI structures and then defending them at taxpayers expense?

JD said...

hear hear!

Twiiter.comRainsInChelsea said...

Congratulations. What a load of dishonesty and life draining procedure you have had to deal with.

I have been involved with LVT and found it utter waste of time.You have to employ barristers to tackle the subterfuge and tangle of vested interests there. Thank goodness people like Sebastian O'Kelly and Martin Boyd exist. It led me to do a documentary on what I discovered.

Documentary on http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=Ti2YZYsuFu8

Your case perfectly displays the huge amounts of wasted money which is having an impact on the wider community. I would be interested to do a documentary on it.

Well done again and hope to hear from you and to see you on Twitter.

Contact me at Twitter/RainsInChelsea if do you join.

Renuka

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