A new guide to ensure that relations between social landlords and leaseholders remain on a good footing during major renovation works has been launched by Lynne Neagle AM in Cardiff today.
Several social landlords in Wales are currently undertaking major works to improve the state and condition of their existing housing stock in compliance with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. Some of this work is in tower blocks where some residents have bought leasehold properties and may face increased service charges to cover the work.
Jointly produced by The Welsh Government, Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Community Housing Cymru (CHC) and The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), the guidance aims to provide landlords with advice on managing works to blocks containing leasehold properties fairly and consistently, and includes options to be offered to aid leaseholders in spreading the payment for major works as well as an independent review process for dispute resolution.
An abridged version of the guide aimed at leaseholders will help to explain what major works are, landlords’ legal obligations to them, what best practice for carrying out works looks like and their rights with regards to consultation and involvement in the process.
Communities and Children Secretary Carl Sargeant said: “Major works to blocks of flats will inevitably be disruptive for residents but it’s really important for social landlords to ensure that the works are appropriate and the charges are fair and proportionate. This guide will help landlords to understand their rights and responsibilities when undertaking major works programmes and will provide leaseholders with information about what is required of them. It will be a valuable tool in maintaining good relations between landlords and leaseholders and will help to ensure disputes are minimised.”
Cllr Dyfed Edwards (Gwynedd), WLGA Spokesperson for Housing said: “Social landlords are investing substantially in improving the quality and supply of homes right across Wales. As part of this process it is vitally important we continue to share best practice in order to help landlords and leaseholders know exactly what to expect when major works are being carried out.”
Hayley MacNamara, Policy and Programmes Manager, CHC said: “These guides will be an invaluable tool for our members in their daily work as they continue to provide transparent, cost effective services to their leaseholders and reduce disputes on major works charges.”
Anthony Essien, Chief Executive at LEASE says “When this project was announced by the Welsh Government it was made clear that the outcome should be guidance that ensured that leaseholders are properly engaged and consulted by their landlord and there is transparency of process for major works. What we have created not only meets that objective, particularly because of the participation of leaseholders, but makes it evident that leaseholders, landlords, government and others working together as partners can make real improvements for the whole sector.”
As part of the project, LEASE is also providing two alternative dispute resolution options – Mediation and ENE – with a view to help resolve major works disputes before matters escalate to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT). There will be a dedicated page on the LEASE website for these along with all relevant application forms www.lease-advice.org/Wales