Home East London East London tenants won’t pay service charges in backlash against landlord

East London tenants won’t pay service charges in backlash against landlord

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East London residents have refused to pay service charges for their flats in protest against rising costs. Residents of Charles Dickens House in Bethnal Green voted for a service charge strike after they saw an increase in their rent and service charge costs. The residents argue that the increase is unreasonable and claim they live in poor conditions.

Tenants living in Charles Dickens House in Tower Hamlets have complained for months about issues there. They have claimed that the housing manager, Tower Hamlets Community Housing (THCH), has failed to maintain the building and flats properly. A meeting of residents in the East London Tower block on April voted for the strike from May 1 onwards.

Residents say they have seen issues from rubbish not being collected, to mould growing in flats and even a ceiling collapsing. THCH runs a number of properties around Tower Hamlets, which have seen increases in service charges in recent months. The Local Democracy Reporting Service has seen documents showing service charge hikes of up to 116 per cent in THCH housing.

READ MORE:Residents’ ‘nightmare’ as ‘new housing development causes cracks in homes

One Charles Dickens House resident said he his flat’s ceiling had collapsed while he was living there

THCH has argued that the increased charges are not for profit but match the cost of services for residents. However, residents say they have not been provided with enough services for their flats to justify the price hike.

Jakia Begum, who has lived in Charles Dickens House for three years, was part of the meeting of around 30 residents who voted for the service charge strike. She said she thinks about half of the people living in the building will join in the strike. She added that her husband had been working overtime to try and pay for their bills and rent.

Jakia said she was being made to pay service charges for heating even when the weather was too warm to need it. She said: “Right now we don’t need the heating because the weather is really good, but we’re still paying for it – that’s £40 a week.

“There’s no proper explanation for this, that’s why I thought you know what, I’m not going to pay my service charge, because I don’t need that heating… I could have saved, that could have been my money, but there are taking the money off us without a choice.”

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Jakia added that she wanted THCH to reduce charges, and that she would not be worried if the case went to court. She said: “I’m hoping they’re gonna reduce the service charges, [that] we’re gonna go back to what it was last year and not a single penny over. That’s what I’m expecting – I’m demanding actually.

“If they want to take half the residents from Charles Dickens House on, they’re more than welcome, I don’t mind. They can take us to court and let’s see what the judge says.”

Hussain Ismail is one of the leading members of Justice for THCH Residents (JTR) which has been campaigning against the condition of THCH housing and increased costs for residents. He said he and his group support the decision of Charles Dickens House residents to refuse to pay service charges to force the landlord to address their concerns.

He said the strike was about “people representing themselves and taking the bull by the [horns] to get accountability about charges. The whole basis of service charges is you get charged for something, you find out whether that charge is fair value.” THCH was contacted for comment.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/east-london-news/east-london-tenants-wont-pay-23803758