Looking after leaseholders

Posted on Sunday 12th April 2015

The Decent Homes programme is a once in a generation investment in residents homes.  With average leaseholder charges of £15,000 we know that leaseholders want to make sure that they get the best value for money from these works.

Tower Hamlets Homes is a fiscally prudent organisation.  We take the spending of public and leaseholder money extremely seriously, and all of our internal and independent audits have shown that we are completely compliant with all financial regulations – including accounting, procurement and spending.  For example, a recent independent audit, by Mazars, gave us a clean bill of health for the way in which we have spent the GLA grant funding.  Another imminent report has looked into the way we bill our leaseholders and we are confident that it will find we bill leaseholders fairly and consistently in line with sound accounting practices.

Jamie Carswell, Director of Investment said “We are proud of the way we have procured our Decent Homes work and the way we have got excellent value for money out of our contracts.”

Choosing our Decent Homes contractors

We chose our Decent Homes contractors using a public tendering process.  We involved residents in our selection process and based our decision on a combination of quality, price and performance.

Getting great value for money
A combination of luck and excellent contract management has meant that we have been able to deliver exceptional value for money from our Decent Homes contractors. 

We procured our Decent Homes contractors during the economic downturn and obtained very competitive prices.  These prices are not inflation adjusted and are fixed for the life of the contract.  This means we are buying at 2011 prices – giving leaseholders great value for money, even as the building industry is booming and prices are soaring.

Triple checking work
Before we start works we triple check all of the work to ensure that it is needed and that it is the best thing to do.  These triple checks are carried out by qualified independent surveyors who have a track record of challenging contractors and amending work programmes so that residents get the best value for money.

Billing leaseholders fairly
We know that some leaseholders are facing some significant bills.  Of the 2,100 bills we have issued to leaseholders for Decent Homes, 150 or 7%, have been over £25,000 – the most expensive of which is £36,000.  Paying large bills such as these can be difficult and this is why we have now established some of the best payment terms and support packages for leaseholders in London. [link to payment options] These include an early payment discount, 12 months interest free payment period and extended payment options for residents who need help.  We also offer a one to one advice service to help ensure residents are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to and can put leaseholders in touch with advice agencies that give free specialist financial advice

We have also amended billing practices to ensure that leaseholders receive their charges at practical completion of the scheme rather than on the basis of an estimated charge. This provides leaseholders with more certainty over the cost and the works carried out.

Decent Homes - significant works
The Decent Homes work we’re doing are extensive and will result in significant improvements in the life of buildings, and make homes easier to heat and create more pleasant neighbourhoods to live in.

The work we do depends on the state of the block – and we make rigorous checks to ensure that we only do those things that are needed.  Typical works we are doing include:

  • Installing new double glazed windows
  • Fitting new fire resistant, secure by design front doors to tenants homes
  • Repairing and replacing roofs
  • Fixing concrete and brickwork
  • Replacing old communal wiring and lighting
  • Fixing private balconies and walkways
  • Painting and decorating the outside of blocks and the communal spaces
Posted on Sunday 12th April 2015