Memorandum submitted by the Federation of Private Residents Associations (FP 53)
I am writing to you on behalf of The Federation of Private Residents Associations who are members of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition. We are a national not for profit organisation that represents the interests of long leaseholders which we do via their Residents' Associations as our response to the Energy and Climate Change Committee call for written evidence for its inquiry into fuel poverty.
Our organisation is an active supporter of the Government's policy on energy efficiency and climate change and welcome the announcement of £150m extra funding for Warm Front for 2010/11, however the one to two million leasehold flats in the UK (a significant proportion of homes) we believe are effectively excluded from carrying out many home insulation initiatives as a result of legislation or because there is no provision for this in their leases.
Much legislation on energy efficiency and certainly the legislation that provides for Grants effectively exclude those living in leasehold flats because the grants are aimed at individuals that purchase in their own names rather than through communal arrangements especially where some live in a block where they would otherwise qualify for a grant whereas others in a block do not.
Most leases only provide for maintenance of existing facilities and there if no provision for "improvements". There have been many court cases challenging the validity of service charges where any improvement e.g. Double glazing has been disallowed because this is an improvement not maintenance. We would request the Government provides some clarity on this issue to avoid expensive challenges at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals (LVT) or County Courts.
If the government is to succeed in its targets it needs to seriously consider the situation for long leasehold flats and work in conjunction with the Department of Communities and Local Government (Leasehold Reform Branch) which we believe can be done by way of amendment to existing leasehold legislation such as the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002.
We support the Government's commitment to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016 and believe there needs to be changes to leasehold law to enable the wide spread roll-out of cavity wall and loft insulation for vulnerable people living leasehold block of flats.