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Labour claim fee rises could force people out of homes
LARGE rises in basic maintenance fees for some leaseholders in over 6,000 former Wycombe council houses could force them out, Labour claims.
The Wycombe branch of the party have lambasted council chiefs after learning of the increases.
For some Red Kite Community Housing leaseholders rises in charges for services such as caretaking and cleaning, repairs and heating water, is over 100 per cent, Labour says.
The party has aimed its fire, not at the new housing association which took over the homes in December, but at the Tory council.
Councillor Victoria Groulef, leader of the Labour group on Wycombe District Council, accused housing bosses of failing to understand and then inform leaseholders before the homes were sold.
She claimed the true impact of the transfer to Red Kite was not made clear and now the rises could force some out of their homes or at least cause them financial troubles.
She said: “The stark reality is that substantial increases will have a dramatic impact on people during tough economic times, many of whom took up their right to buy in order to provide more stability and financial certainty.
“I have met with staff at Red Kite and under housing association rules they have no choice but to charge the full cost for the services they provide to leaseholders.
“Red Kite are in fact doing all they can to minimise the impact of the increase in charges”.
She said verbal assurances from Cllr David Carroll, Cabinet Member for Housing, prior to the housing sale, have proved hollow because the contract had no protections after all.
Wycombe District Council said it did not want to comment.
Zosia Katnik, Red Kite spokesman, said the organisation is committed to working with tenants and leaseholders to introduce a fair and proportionate charging structure reflecting the costs of the service.
She said: “Based on the level of service as specified in each lease, 84 per cent of our leaseholders were asked to pay less this year for their estimated charges than last year and 16 per cent were asked to pay more.
“We continue to provide our tenants and leaseholders with value for money to ensure we deliver on our promises.”