For Libcom News - E.Times article - pensioners win battle!

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Apr 12 2006 19:35
For Libcom News - E.Times article - pensioners win battle!

OAPs win landmark battle with factor over £80,000

MILLBRAE GARDENS residents - large pic, from left - Ellena Graham, Lillien Hillyard, Emily Hinds, Margaret Reid and Janet Brock launched the legal battle with their factor over disputed charges

SHELTERED housing residents - including a 99-year-old woman - have won a landmark legal fight with their factor over £80,000 of disputed charges.

Pensioners at Millbrae Gardens, on Glasgow's southside, have defeated a bid by Hanover Housing to make 19 elderly people pay up to £6000 each.

The case was sparked after homeowners in Langside were hit with bills for backdated charges after they used new laws to dismiss their factor.

Most of the 35 homeowners had withheld management fees after an arbiter ordered Hanover, which built the development, to appoint an independent factor nine years ago.

However, bosses at Hanover appointed themselves as the original factor and pursued the unpaid charges after the OAPs used the law to ditch them.

But the defiant OAPs vowed to fight the writs.

Residents, including Emily Hinds, 99, who was being sued for more than £5000, were warned it would take more than three years to challenge the fees.

But this week the Court of Session in Edinburgh threw out Hanover's claim.

Millbrae resident Margaret Reid, 82, said: "It's absolutely wonderful news but it was ridiculous they let it go so far.

"We have had this threat hanging over us for years and it's a massive weight off our shoulders."

Miss Hinds, who will be 100 in September, said: "We are all owner-occupiers and we were not willing to be dictated to by a management company."

Solicitor John McCormick, of Glasgow firm McSparran McCormick, who acted for the residents, said: "This is a huge relief for all the elderly residents.

"They should be congratulated for their stamina in seeing off Hanover, who continued in their pursuit of the fees.

"This decision will be significant for sheltered housing residents all over Scotland."

In 2004, the pensioners became the first homeowners in Scotland to dismiss their factor and appoint new property managers under the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003. The Act gave sheltered housing residents the same rights as owners of tenement flats.

Stewart Kinsman, chief executive of Hanover (Scotland) Housing, said: "We are still awaiting legal advice as the ruling has only just been issued.

"We took this action to protect the minority of the residents who continued to pay the charges."