|STAT NOTICES||07-02883-24 and 07-02885-24|
The first I heard about our statutory notices (SN) was when scaffolding went up outside the front of our building, soon followed by a letter from Ryden explaining that they were project managers for the 2 statutory notices to be enforced on our building (specifically our roof and chimneys). Having had a SN in 2000, also on the roof and chimneys, where the cost escalated from an estimate of £500 to £6600, we were keen to ensure that any new SN were dealt with by ourselves but, as we didn’t receive the SN, we weren’t afforded this opportunity.
This was in September (expected to last until February) and the first thing they asked us to do was ensure that our chimneys were not in use while they worked on them – which would seem reasonable during the summer but the timing meant no heating in my property over winter. I had to spend £5000 to have my boiler moved to another part of the flat and everything re-plumbed.
The SN was apparently served in January 2008, it went out to tender in May 2009 but wasn’t started until 15 months later. The lowest tender had been skipped due them being unavailable (apparently for 15 months, so why did they tender?) so it went to the next bidder whose bid was almost 20% higher.
We also learned around this time that shortly prior to the SN being served, a couple of unknown men came to the property, went up to the roof, came back down and left. A few days later, after some rain, water came through the roof and an investigation by one of the residents revealed the drain had been deliberately blocked resulting in an overflow and subsequent leak.
The work carried on past February and was not concluded until May 2011 and left the building shrouded in scaffolding for the duration – not good for those us letting out our properties.
Rather than sending us a bill then, Ryden let us know that there were some discrepancies on the bill which needed to be resolved before they could send us a final account. That was the last we heard about it (despite asking for information in the interim) until October 2014 when the bill finally came through for around £8300 per owner. This had undergone a ‘rigorous and robust’ review by Deloitte which had resulted in the bill being reduced due to some works being carried out outside of the SN remit. However, there was nothing to substantiate the bill – no breakdown, no summary, no final account and review.
I asked for a breakdown of the bill which after continual prompting arrived 4 months later. The bill and breakdown had different totals. I wrote to the council asking to explain this and they said the letter they sent out in May explained and enclosed a copy. The copy explained the Deloitte review highlighting the out-of-remit works resulted in the reduction. The address at the top explained why I hadn’t received anything from CEC regarding the SN other than the bill – they had been sending correspondence to a property manager I had worked with in 2002! So rather than sending the correspondence to me at my home address, my flat address or my current letting agency – all of which are listed in their own landlord register and have been since its inception – they sent it to someone I have not been in contact with for over 12 years.
Not being a quantity surveyor myself, I asked Gordon Murdie of Quantus QS to look at my case and represent my interests when communicating with the council. The first thing he asked the council was why my 25 vent chimney (the subject of one of my SNs) was being billed for removing 43 chimney pots, rebedding 32 of them and providing 8 brand new ones. We got no response.
It took a FOI request to get the Deloitte review which showed there was no original tender and no final account on file. So where did they get their figures from? I’m still waiting to hear. I also did a FOI request in 2012 asking for evidence that the work actually needed carried out in the first place such as core samples from the stone that ‘needed’ replaced. Nothing was found on file.
The original tender on the Deloitte review was £36,000 but the final account (after Deloitte review reduction) was £94,000 – a 250% mark up!
I haven’t paid the bill as I’ve written to the council explaining that I want time to investigate the discrepancies highlighted by Gordon Murdie. If they and their ‘experts’ took 4 years to do the same, I presume they can’t complain if I need a couple of months to check it out fully and then layout my issues to dispute. I haven’t had a response to that, and I’m not naïve enough to assume that that means they’re amenable to it. I suspect the next letter will be about how they’re now taking me to court. But that’s fine, if they won’t speak to me (or Gordon on behalf) outside of court then they can do it inside of court and explain their ludicrous position to the sheriff.