Gorleston pensioners face leases being revoked for refusal to pay council fee

Gorleston homeowners in dispute with the council over service charges. Left to right, Barbara Storey

Gorleston homeowners in dispute with the council over service charges. Left to right, Barbara Storey, Patricia Jex and Coral Blowers. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

A trio of pensioners are taking on the council in a dispute over management fees for their flats.

The three women, Barbara Storey, Patricia Jex and Coral Blowers, of King's Road, Gorleston, are taking Great Yarmouth Borough Council to task over the issue.

Last October the council billed the four flats in their block each for a £110 management fee.

Barbara Storey, 65, has lived in her home for 30 years and took advantage of Right to Buy in the 1980s, and despite being a leaseholder, said she had never received this charge before.

She added: 'I can certainly understand it for people who live in big blocks of flats, but we are four units, more like two houses.'

Both she and her neighbours have refused to pay until the council tell them what the charge would be used for. She said she did not get a response to her request.

MORE: Council leaseholder's anger over service chargeMrs Storey accused the council of 'bully boy' tactics after all three received a letter saying they have 14 days to pay the charge or the council could start the process of terminating the lease.

A borough council spokesman said one of their lease conditions is to pay an annual management fee, solely to cover the reasonable costs of managing their lease. It covers the coast of the leaseholder team and is not for work undertaken to the building itself.

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He added: 'Previously, the resident would have covered management costs through their rent. If leaseholders did not pay a management fee, the cost would fall unfairly onto the remaining council tenants.

'The management fee has always been chargeable to all leaseholders, however a review last year identified that some leaseholders were not being charged the fee, despite being liable under their lease.

'To ensure fair treatment of all 350 leaseholders across the borough, bills for the management fee were sent out last September to all leaseholders, along with information explaining the situation and what a management fee covers. The council decided not to backdate the charge.

'Since September, the vast majority of leaseholders have now paid, however the council continues to liaise with a few leaseholders to answer their questions and to explain the nature of the management fee and their lease obligations.'

He added although the council has powers to revoke leases, this would only be used as a last resort.

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