An independent advocacy service to investigate leaseholders’ disputes with Southwark Council will soon be up and running.
MySouthwark Home Owners Agency will be a first for the housing sector, the council has said, and follows on a pledge made by Southwark Labour in 2014.
It will specifically aim to improve leaseholder satisfaction, which “lags behind” that of council tenants – according to a survey of 665 responses.
The council is also recruiting a panel of independent experts to specifically help resolve service charge disputes.
A statement from Southwark Council said: “The aim is to create a bespoke service for each homeowner, agreeing investigation completion dates with an emphasis on strong communication, to ensure homeowners feel listened to throughout their contact with the agency.”
Over the next few months the council will be recruiting an independent Board to oversee the new service, monitor performance, and work with the council to make improvements to the homeowner services.
Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We listened to and recognised the unique concerns of homeowners in the borough and the extra, specialist support they need.
“This is why we pledged to set up an agency, independent from the council, with the relevant expertise to listen to and resolve their, often complex, issues. While in its early stages, I am delighted that the service has come to fruition and wish the team every success going forward.”
The service includes a team of advocacy officers based in Market Place, Bermondsey, and another team in a homeowner focused contact centre based in Queens Road, Peckham.
Data and feedback from those using the service will be used to improve it further, and measure satisfaction from clients.