James & ors v Bron Afon Community Housing Ltd LVT/0047/10/13)

John Sharples

17 July 2014

John successfully acted for the tenants of Monmouth House, Cwmbran, Gwent in a dispute with their landlord, Bron Afon Community Housing, about service charges. Some tenants had received demands for over £27,800.

John Sharples, head of our property and real estate team recently acted in the case of James & ors v Bron Afon Community Housing Ltd for tenants of Monmouth House, Cwmbran, Gwent in a dispute with their landlord, Bron Afon Community Housing, about service charges. Some tenants had received demands for over £27,800.

The bills covered works done to comply with Welsh Housing Quality Standards. The WHQS require that all Welsh social housing stock meets certain standards as regards the state of repair, safety, heating, fuel-efficiency, insulation, etc by 2020.

Bron Afon sought to recover the cost of the works from tenants who had bought long leases under the “right to buy” legislation. They accepted the curtain walling of the block of flats was in disrepair but disputed the extent and costs of the works required. After a lengthy hearing the Residential Property Tribunal last week agreed that installing external wall insulation was unreasonable/excessive and the costs were irrecoverable (LVT/0047/10/13).

The case is an important test as to the recoverability of the cost of works required by the WHQS. Concerns about the amounts the tenants were being asked to pay had been raised in the Welsh Assembly and attracted publicity in the regional press.