A chat with Matthew, our Leasehold Advisor
Matthew Mitchell is a Leasehold Advisor at Poplar HARCA. He oversees leaseholders’ service charges and major works disputes, and is involved with Section 20 Notices (the process whereby Poplar HARCA informs leaseholders that we intend to carry out work or provide a service that leaseholders will have to pay towards). We chatted to him about what he enjoys most about his role, some of the challenges involved and where leaseholders should go for independent advice.
What are some of your typical day to day responsibilities?
I make sure that our leaseholders understand what they’re being charged for, and why. This includes working closely with our managing agents and checking that what they are charging us is fair, before we pass that onto our leaseholders. If there are disputes, I attend tribunals to ensure that service charges are reasonable.
What do you enjoy most about your role, and what are some of the challenges?
I enjoy helping leaseholders understand their service charges and making sure that they are not left in the dark regarding what they have to pay. Some of the more challenging parts of the role include locating historical information on service charges, and being able to explain legal terms to leaseholders and colleagues in a way that’s easy for them to understand. It is important that leaseholders understand their charges and pay them on time so that they contribute towards their housing services, and in turn the community benefits.
What has your team achieved that you’re most proud of?
We recently achieved 81% leaseholder satisfaction which shows that we are doing things right and that leaseholders think we provide a good service. We have also had many successful tribunal mediations, where we engage with leaseholders and come to a resolution before the need for a tribunal process. This gives both sides an agreeable resolution and avoids extra legal fees, whilst maintaining a healthy landlord-leaseholder relationship.
How do you work with other teams and what’s the importance of this?
We work closely with many teams across HARCA – in particular our Property Services team. The Property Services team provides us with details of the works that are going to be done to leasehold properties, and helps us answer the technical questions leaseholders have about the works. Maintaining a strong relationship helps us keep leaseholders informed. We have regular catch ups to make sure both teams are fully aware of what stage of the process each scheme is at.
Do you have an example of a time when you’ve made a positive impact on a resident’s life?
I was recently involved in managing a dispute which had been going on for over 5 years. By being approachable and listening to the leaseholders’ concerns, I was able to draw a line under the long-standing dispute. The residents were really pleased with the outcome as it allowed them to move on, and has maintained a positive landlord-leaseholder relationship.
Are there any services you would recommend to leaseholder?
We always encourage our leaseholders to visit The Lease Advisory Service which is a government funded, independent advice service for leaseholders.