Kent MP calls for law to empower homeowners

A Kent MP is calling for new laws to give residents more control over fees they pay to estate management companies.

Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, described the charges of some local maintenance firms as "a licence to print money".

One resident in Greenhithe said he was paying £600 a year for "grass to be mowed near his home".

Management firms say their charges reflect the costs of services needed to maintain estates and to pay staff.

A majority of newly-built housing estates, which are not adopted by local councils, are subject to charges imposed by management companies that maintain those estates.

Mr Johnson said: "Residents are having to pay ever increasing management fees and if they want to swap the companies that look after their estates they are finding it is virtually impossible to do so. There is no accountability.

"What we need is legislation that gives power back to the residents, so they are in charge of their management companies, rather than the other way round."

New legislation with regards to leaseholds is expected to be included in the Kings Speech on Tuesday, although the details are unclear.

The speech sets out government plans for the coming year.

Martyn Dwight
Martyn Dwight lives on a new estate in Greenhithe, Kent, and says his estate is charged more than £8000 in landscaping costs per year for " a little bit of grass to be mown"

Martyn Dwight lives on a new estate in Greenhithe near Dartford and pays a budgeted, itemised bill annually in advance to LRM Property Management.

He says he is concerned that he and his neighbours are not getting value for money and he feels "frustrated" and "powerless".

"It ends up being around £600-£700 a year", he said.

"We get charged nearly £8,000 for landscaping but they don't clear much of the estate they just cut a bit of grass outside of our property.

"Parts of the estate are in disrepair with broken fences. Roads have collapsed and there's raised ironworks. Nothing has been done but we're paying £2,000 a year for repairs."

In a statement, LRM Property Management said: "The overall cost, we believe, does represent good value for money.

"Our management fees should not be confused with the total cost of running the site and as a proportion of the overall costs they are reasonable."

It added that securing "sensibly priced quotes" for road repairs was "challenging" and contractors were not "attracted to smaller projects".

LRM Property Management also said it would call a meeting of residents to discuss concerns.

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