Nursing home living offers independence, community, and eliminates the general issues of home ownership. However, some residents have now been asked to foot the bill for thousands of pounds of maintenance work which they say should be covered by developers and landlords.
Chris, Sue and Trevor appeared on this morning’s episode of BBC One’s Rip-off Britain explaining that Oak Court care home in Manchester was charging £800 from each resident while draining their provident fund.
Residents pay around £4,400 a year in maintenance service fees, which is expected in a care home to ensure maintenance.
They have no problem with this bill, because it was not a secret from the beginning.
Resident Sue said: “We’ve come prepared to pay the fee, we know what it’s for. It is ultimately for the good of all who live there.
However, in 2021 a fire inspection noted that the building’s fire safety measures needed attention, leaving residents uncertain as to what was needed and how much it would cost.
Finally, in March 2022, it was revealed that the works would cost around £79,000.
The house’s management company, FirstPort, noted that the costs could be covered by the provident fund created by residents’ management fee payments, and that residents would then only have to contribute £800 each.
However, Sue noted a potential problem: “If we empty the provident fund and there is nothing left, it will have to be replenished. And the only way I can see that happening is if the fees go up again, maybe dramatically.
Resident Chris explained why residents don’t believe they should be the ones to foot the bill: ‘These issues are historic, the building was not designed correctly and was not constructed correctly.
Martin Boyd, who chairs the Leaseholders Knowledge Partnership, which is part of a parliamentary group looking at tenancy reform, told residents: “I think what is happening to you is absolutely shameful. It’s up to the developer to fix it. They shouldn’t try to charge you at all.
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“The advice for now would be to firmly resist the landlord’s attempt to pass these charges on to you. Perhaps you should write to them and let them know that the legislation is about to change and this will make the developer retrospectively liable for defects construction dating back 30 years. I think you should ask them when they’re going to pay to repair their building.
The new legislation, due to be introduced later this year, would prohibit freeholders and landlords from passing the costs of historical fire safety issues onto current tenants.
The BBC program spoke to FirstPort, who said it was reviewing its position on this legislation with the original developer, but until everything is settled some of the costs are expected to be covered by the provident fund.
They also noted that they understand the costs are unwelcome and are working with residents to help plan funding, while consulting with them every step of the way.
Another nursing home resident, Pauline, had a similar problem in Stockport and began to take matters into her own hands.
Collectively, she and her neighbors had been billed £44,500 for essential maintenance work, with each bungalow having to pay over £5,500.
Pauline shared: “We did not expect to have to find such a sum of money! We weren’t expecting huge bills, that’s the whole point of living in a place like this. We all thought the same when we bought our bungalows.
Pauline and her neighbor Sue believe that the essential work, which is detailed in their contracts, should have been done years earlier.
Sue explained: ‘They don’t maintain the exterior of the bungalow which meant the work was such that we had to do more extensive work.
The management company, the Guinness Partnership, disputed this claim noting that it had carried out regular inspections with exterior paint not always deemed necessary.
The heavy financial blow would be slightly cushioned for residents as they each expect a £2,000 payment from the liquidation of their old maintenance fund, but would have to come up with more than £3,000 themselves.
The Guinness Partnership added that it was sorry for any disruption and would discuss payment plans for residents who were worried about costs.
Mr Boyd added, in this case: “The big issue that people don’t necessarily realize when they buy these properties is that their utility fee has to cover the upkeep of the whole building. When these buildings need maintenance like a new roof, the costs can be very high. What they can do is put pressure on the managing agent and owner to find out if they are planning correctly. At some point, it makes sense that the retirement industry needs to deliver a better product because community can help with issues like loneliness.”
A FirsPort spokesperson said: “With safety being our priority, we immediately put an action plan into place following the latest findings from the fire risk assessment, working with residents to find the right remediation solution based on independent and specialist advice.
“We are in talks with the developer, who has asked us to provide them with all relevant development information for their consideration. However, until we receive confirmation from the developer on how they wish to proceed, we expect that part of the costs will be funded from the development reserve fund, which is in place to contribute to the development. long-term maintenance or unforeseen major work. We fully understand that costs are not welcome and we do everything we can to help residents plan for the necessary funding in the event of an anticipated shortfall.
Rip Off Britain continues tomorrow on BBC One at 9.15am.
Express.co.uk has contacted FirstPost and The Guinness Partnership for comment.