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Message from LEASE Chair Roger Southam – December 2015

LEASE has a solid foundation and a fantastic reputation. I would say that wouldn’t I? Well no, I have this from impartial sources. Wherever I go and whoever I speak to I find nothing but praise for our team of advisers and the work we do. I was told by a lawyer that they had learned and qualified using LEASE guidance and advice!

So why are we changing? We have to do this for two reasons. Firstly, from even the slightest awareness of the news you will know that government spending is being slashed and this will affect LEASE. Secondly, I was shocked to discover that whilst we deal with 25,000 calls a year; believe it or not we do not answer another 25,000! That means our help is needed twice as much as is currently achieved – at least!

So in order to keep our strong foundation and to improve our services we are making step changes to our structure and service delivery. We have introduced a new frontline phone answering team whose target will be to answer all calls. This will ensure those that need help and assistance can receive it from our fantastic advisers. Rather than being tied up answering phones and finding the person is phoning about commercial property, rental property, doesn’t have their lease or pen and paper.

So to be clear our target is to answer all calls and we will be monitoring and measuring our service and making sure it is meeting the needs and necessities. I apologise if there are frustrations while we go through the journey but we are working to improve.

One other thing that has surprised me recently was asking an audience at the Federation of Private Resident Associations AGM how many had heard of LEASE. Only 50% of the hands went up. Therefore, we have a huge job to undertake to increase awareness and expand our guidance and advice. Of course this will only increase demand for our services which makes our changes even more important to make sure we are robust for the future.

Finally, I discovered we have some callers who are serial callers and contacting us over 200 times! We cannot provide this free, we will never look after the residential leasehold market properly if this continues. Someone who needs to call this much should employ a lawyer. We are here for advice and guidance, not to give a detailed legal service to individuals. This will be addressed as part of our changes.

So I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year and ask you to toast LEASE and all it is and all it will be in 2016. We are here for advice and guidance and we are here for you.

LEASE is governed by a board, appointed as individuals by the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.