Norwich City Council could face £200,000 payout after leaseholder charge blunder
PUBLISHED: 09:31 13 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:18 13 January 2015
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Norwich City Council could face a £200,000 repayment bill after overcharging leaseholders, it has been claimed.
Norwich Leaseholders Association says a key court decision showed the authority got it wrong over charging leaseholders for ‘caretaking’.
And the council has appealed a second court ruling which concluded it had got the amount it charged leaseholders for lighting wrong.
The city council has some 2,600 leaseholders - people who bought former council homes on 125 year long leases.
Those leases include some charges, such as for maintenance, lighting and looking after communal issues.
But two sets of leaseholders challenged what the council had asked them to pay. The Norwich Leaseholders Association took on the case and challenged the council in court.
The court agreed that the council was wrong to have charged the leaseholder Clifton Springer for “caretaking” at flats in Colegate.
The tribunal ruled the council must pay back what was charged - about £1,000 - for “caretaking” which was not mentioned in the lease.
Kevin Hayes, from the Norwich Leaseholders Association (NLA) said that some 260 leaseholders had been wrongly charged for caretaking, yet the council has yet to inform them or pay them back.
He said: “The implication of this decision is that all the other leaseholders in this same position cannot be charged and should therefore be refunded. The NLA estimates that they owe some £200,000 in refunds.”
A city council spokesman said: “This is a very complicated issue and we are currently working with tenants, members and leaseholders to find the way forward.
“We are taking time to understand all of the possible implications of how we charge for the service going forward and reach a solution that is agreeable to all parties.
“Many people want to receive the caretaking service and the charging process therefore needs to be fair.
“We cannot give any further comment until we conclude this review.”
A second ruling was over a charge for lighting at flats in Bull Close, off Magdalen Street. That was also challenged by the NLA. The court ruled in the leaseholders’ favour, saying the council had been unable to show evidence to back up the charge.
The court did not determine what the fair cost should be. The council has appealed against the court’s ruling.
Have you been successful in a challenge against a local council? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org