Haringey Community Press

Haringey Community Press

Costly charges capped

Noel Park Estate leaseholders offered major works reduction

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Noel Park pod extension unitCredit Kirsten Lowe

Noel Park Estate leaseholders offered major works reduction

By Luchia Robinson

Noel Park Estate leaseholders quoted estimates amounting to several thousands of pounds for major repair works to their homes are being offered a reduction by Haringey Council.

The 77 affected leasehold homeowners are expected to pay contributions to the repairs which include replacing old and dangerous prefab bathroom pod extensions, roofs, windows and doors.

Following council consultations with the leaseholders, these contributions have now been capped at £25,000 for the pod replacements. Leasehold residents are still expected to pay contributions for the remaining essential works.

£1.2 million is being made available from the Homes Revenue Account to cover the major works shortfall. However, the offer is only available to residents living on the Wood Green estate.

There are 38 non-resident leaseholders affected by the essential works costs that are not eligible for the capped rate because they are letting their flats, and considered private landlords.

The reduced charge has not been applied to homeowner Kirsten Lowe, a social worker who is letting out the property she bought on the estate in 2013.

Kirsten said: “We can’t sell the flats, no-one will buy them because of the work being needed and the bills hanging over our heads. Several of us haven’t been able to sell or re-mortgage for some time. My flat was valued at £0 in 2019 because of the state of the pod.

“I couldn’t sell my flat when I moved in with my partner and had our child, so I’ve had to let it out. Haringey now see me as a ‘private landlord’ which I never was by choice. We’ve been trapped – I have an estimate for £108,000.”

The leaseholders have been issued works estimates and have not been quoted confirmed cost amounts, meaning eventual bills could be higher than the current quoted estimates if repair costs increase.

The council says it would be unfair for non-resident leasehold landlords to receive a subsidy, but claims discretion will be used in cases of extreme hardship, such as if a non-resident leaseholder is at risk of losing their principal home elsewhere as a result of financial losses because of the works.

Haringey Council has received criticism for the handling of the Noel Park essential works, most recently for withholding the results of asbestos surveys conducted on the homes in 2019 and 2020 which revealed that the homes have a ‘high risk’ of asbestos. Electrical surveys also conducted revealed electric systems failed safety standards – yet these results were only released by estate landlord, Homes for Haringey, in March this year, following requests from leaseholders.

Kirsten said: “The pods should have been replaced in the late 80s. They’re made of wood, and they’re crumbling. There are panels falling off the side, there’s quite a few holes, and you can see where bits of the wood are peeling off – and because they contain asbestos, there’s a risk that that is exposed. It’s posing a health and safety risk for the people that live there.”

The leaseholders have raised concerns about the council’s reduction offer coming with the stipulation that they agree not to take legal action over the essential works.

The council says that having a settlement agreement is commonplace when making an offer of this kind to avoid any litigation on the matter. It states that the recent cap proposals, offer the ‘right balance between a fair settlement for leaseholder residents and to ensure the essential works are completed for everyone living on the estate,’ stating that the leaseholders are being offered a flat rate regardless of the size of the homes or the terms of the individual leases.

Although the reduction proposals have been offered to the leaseholders, they are still subject to cabinet approval. Council officers will be briefing the new borough leadership before the proposals come to cabinet for decision next month.

If approved, the council says, individual written settlement agreements will be reached with each leaseholder wanting to take up the reduction offer.