Case Study 8: Leaseholder consultation

Mrs W complained on behalf of a leaseholder group that in 2011 the landlord told them that it had identified an interim - less expensive - contactor to provide the warden call system pending introduction of a new central contract. In the event however, the existing contractor continued to provide the service leading to residents receiving higher than expected service charge bills. She also complained that the landlord had declined to escalate the complaint to a panel because it could not 'make changes to operational processes or to fees or charges’.

Following contact with us the landlord acknowledged there had been a service failure in that it had not followed through on what had been agreed with residents; it had also failed to explain that decision or otherwise manage residents’ expectations. It agreed that some form of redress would be appropriate but emphasised that its actions would actually lead to long-term savings for residents. It acknowledged too that in asking to go to a panel the residents had been seeking to address this service failing as well as look at the service charge issue.

After further discussion with both parties we said that we were referring the matter back to Mrs W and the landlord for local resolution. We noted the ongoing landlord/leaseholder relationship and the importance of the landlord directly acknowledging its service failure to residents. In addition, that engaging frankly with residents to consider what would put things right was a significant step in re-building trust. We noted too that Mrs W and the landlord were not very far apart on what would resolve the matter and explained that any offer of redress should be fair and proportionate to the circumstances of the case. We also spoke to Mrs W about ensuring that residents used the process to resolve this matter rather than trying to bring in other concerns about the landlord’s activities. Nonetheless, there was also an opportunity for both parties to learn from this complaint and look at how they communicated in future.