Charity founder calls for Notting Hill Genesis to be ‘more transparent’ with service charges

PUBLISHED: 17:52 25 April 2019

Connie Henry, director of Track Academy. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Connie Henry, director of Track Academy. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

A Willesden charity founder is calling on a major housing association to be more transparent with its service charges for leaseholders after estimate bills went up by £8,000.

Connie HenryConnie Henry

Connie Henry, who runs Track Academy to help disadvantaged children through sport, says she feels “stressed” by confusing demands from landlord Notting Hill Genesis.

She claims estimates for service charges in Mallard Close fail to match the content of statements at the end of the year.

Last year she received an estimate bill for £3,000, which has gone up this year to £11,000 – but she says work being done around the estate does not reflect this hike in costs. Housing officers joined her on a “walkabout” of the cul de sac in November, where she pointed out work that had not seemingly been completed but which occupiers had paid for.

NHG blamed “cost increases and unexpected additional services and works that were not budgeted for previously” for discrepancies, but said Connie and others like her would be eligible for a refund if it turned out they had overpaid when final accounts were done in September. It also said extra charges were broken down and shared with leaseholders.

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But Connie said: “People are bamboozled by information that doesn't correlate from one month to the next.”

NHG admitted to her that works are sometimes referred to by different names in correspondence, which she says makes it hard for residents to understand what is and isn't being done.

NHG said: “We will use this feedback to ensure our schedules are clear.”

Connie says statements telling her how much she must pay are generally £3,000 to £5,000 more than their original estimates, and for this financial year she could owe as much as £15,000.

“If what's being done is maintenance,” she said, “if children can play in the playground, if it's clean, if things are being done and it's £15,000, so be it – you're benefiting from that. But there's no inspection report proving there's work being done.

“There are really elderly, infirm, disadvantaged people living in Mallard Close. They live in a close where the gates never work, the intercom never works, children can't play in the playground – it is filthy.”

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