So the reason for my long absence from my SEC blog was, in honesty, my disappointment that we couldn’t get 10 people together to continue with the South End Close Tenants and Resident’s Association (SECRA). There are a few people living in SEC who, like myself, wanted it to continue, but without the additional support needed we couldn’t continue. Such a shame when there are funds available to us to make improvements where we live.
My reason for writing this post today is following a conversation I had with one of my neighbours this morning and notification from another who wrote on my blog regarding the works that took place by Camden/Apollo on restoring the cold water pipes.
I was very pleased to hear that leaseholders have been given a reduction in their bill for the waterworks and I hope that my continued correspondence with Camden helped towards this. I have yet to receive my bill, but am hoping it too is far better than the original received for £4700+
However I wasn’t pleased to hear from another neighbour that she had opened a letter regarding the planned tiling of the porch floors. I came home and had received the same letter. SERIOUSLY? Am I really expected to pay £4503.12 towards flooring, let alone flooring I don’t even want? You may wonder why I don’t want it? Personally I think it will spoil the lovely 1920’s built buildings we live in, the sample of a deep cleaned floor we had been shown (the first in the 27 years I have lived here) produced great results, and let’s get real – judging by the history of Camden’s previous contractors, the work will cause nothing but nightmares yet again for all of us!
The letter says that we have now carried out a full validation survey to the property and it has resulted in an increase in the estimated cost for these works. The revised cost for the contract to your block is now £146,768.21 (including contractor overheads). So that gives me, as a leaseholder, a bill of £4503.12! Get real!
In an email to me of 16th December 2014, from Shamsul Alam, Contracts Manager of Camden Council, regarding the proposed tiling of the porches he wrote the estimated cost of the proposed tile floor per staircase entrance is estimated to be just over £13k including prelims, contractors overhead and profits.
As part of my reply I wrote On another note, I did receive your correspondence with regards to suggested porcelain tiles in our porches at a cost of £13347 per porch.
If this option went ahead, I noted that you stated ‘I am hoping to purchase additional tiles’ – with a cost as high as this, I think additional tiles would be imperative should any get damaged in future. If stock was suddenly discontinued, we would just be left with damaged tiles or unmatching tiles completely defeating the object of laying them in the first place.
My estimate for 15 porches at £13347 each = £200205. With 141 flats and 43 leaseholders (as far as I am aware), each leaseholder will be looking at approximately £1419 each. Is this correct? Or do these figures not include management costs, etc on top?
So how does the bill per leaseholder go from approximately £1419 each (in Dec 2014) to £4500 (in June 2015)?
I also requested that a survey take place asking whether those living in SEC wanted porcelain tiles or the existing flooring to be deep cleaned. The survey took place with questionnaires having to be returned by 5th Jan 2015 (despite the date at the top of the survey stating 5th Jan 2014!)
A short time later we had the results put up on the noticeboards –
30 voted for new flooring
16 voted to deep clean
1 vote did not specify either of the two options
So a grand total of 47 out of 141 flats responded.
My questions now are:
* How many of the 47 who responded are leaseholders?
* Given the astronomical amount leaseholders have only just been informed they are going to expected to pay (yet again) for this work, can we request another survey be done before this work is agreed?
* Given that only 33.33% of the flats in SEC actually responded to the survey, is this a valid enough result for Camden to go ahead with the decision to tile our porches?
By the way, my email to Mr Alam (when I believed that I would be looking at approx. £1419 for tiling work) also included
This would mean we have bills of £3500-£4700 for cold water pipe replacement, £2000+ for decoration of porches and £1400+ for flooring (should this go ahead). When will final costs options be provided to leaseholders and will this be prior to the work, be it cleaning or tiles, being approved?
Please don’t forget the nightmares we had with the simple task of painting of walls in our porches. As a reminder, here is another section of the same email I wrote to Mr Alam
My given figure of 4/5 workers was provided by both the caretaker and the workers on the estate. I am pleased to hear there were more when you paid your visit. However please do not forget that as the workers also informed me, there are many times when they are pulled away from SEC and move to jobs elsewhere, hence them saying how fed up they were.
Will the delays caused by accessing properties in order to paint the doors cause an increase in our final bill? I one tenant telling me yesterday that she waited in for a whole day for a decorator to paint her door and he didn’t turn up!
With regards to a reduction in the cost of care-taking, I don’t think this should be an ‘if the bill will be reduced’ as there is simply no question that this bill should be reduced. Our porch hasn’t been touched since August. I look forward to Sue’s response on this.
I absolutely understand that there will inevitably be some disruption and inconvenience caused to residents with any work taking place, however this job has been badly managed. There is no excuse for starting a job and then leaving it unfinished for over two months leaving us to live in the conditions featured in my videos. It is disrespectful to both the tenants and leaseholders. No one is asking for compensation, but we are asking for those in charge to pay more attention to ensure that those you have chosen to employ do the job properly and efficiently. This has not been the case.
Unsurprisingly, despite an email from Mr Amal stating that the caretakers fee would be reduced due to the fact that he couldn’t clean our porches for months, my Service Fee invoice did not reflect any form of refund.
I end today’s blog with my last comments written in my email of 16th December to Mr Amal
In a current climate where the cost of living is increasing and salaries aren’t, it is no wonder so many of those who are leaseholders in SEC are currently selling their properties or renting them for small fortunes. I have lived in SEC for over 26 years and didn’t buy to rent, I brought to hopefully live here for many years to come. With a heavy heart, thanks to Camden’s horrendous charges for jobs that never fail to be badly managed and cause upset, I may join those in either renting my property for profit so that Camden’s bills are far less painful or will be putting my home on the market in the very near future.
Residents of SEC, I welcome any comments you may have.