Caledonian Road leaseholders force Clarion Housing Group to admit it made error over £2,000 service charge hike

Victory: Clarion Housing tenants in Caledonian Road. Picture: Shardell Joseph

Victory: Clarion Housing tenants in Caledonian Road. Picture: Shardell Joseph - Credit: Archant

Caledonian Road leaseholders shared victory after battling the UK’s largest affordable housing association over “vague” service charges, which were dropped last week.

Clarion Housing Group cleared nearly half of the extra charges added this year for building services and maintenance work, most of which it admitted were for repeat jobs or work that was never carried out.

Tenants were told to pay an extra £2,000 per household within six months. Some, who asked us not to publish their surnames, spoke to the Gazette about their “bittersweet” victory.

Challenging the charges on behalf of his neighbours, Joshua said: “It’s good for us that they’ve taken things off but at the same time it shows how broken their system is and how there must be thousands of tenants paying for service charges that they shouldn’t be paying.”

St Pancras Hospital nurse Elliot told the Gazette: “I’m happy in a way that they’ve agreed to drop certain charges but it’s really shocking that we have to go to these lengths to for them to do that.

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“There wasn’t even a real apology – just an ‘oh, we’ve made a mistake’ – and it feels like they’re hoping people aren’t going to challenge and see what they can get away with.”

The neighbours spoke of their ordeal at contesting the charges, and the financial strain it was putting on them.

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One, Sonja, said: “You’re constantly trying to think: ‘Where am I going to come up with this extra cash and where has it come from?’”

She added: “When we said to them we can’t find the money this email came saying they can signpost us to debt advice – they’re charging us for stuff that isn’t ours to pay, pushing us into debt then telling us where to go for advice.”

Josh said: “If we didn’t raise these things we’d have just been charged lots that we’re not supposed to be paying.

“For vulnerable people that don’t know as much as we do how to challenge these things, it’s exploitation.”

A Clarion Housing Group spokesperson said: “Having listened to leaseholders’ feedback, we have taken their views on the charges into account and have agreed to remove some of the costs. We apologise if residents feel this has taken too long to resolve.”

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