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SolicitorRM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3117
Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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I am a Bristol City Council social housing tenant and for

Customer Question

Hello, I am a Bristol City Council social housing tenant and for several years, I have disputed heating charges (Communal prepayment system) for heating that I have not used. I took the Council to the Small Claims Court 6 years ago and received several hundred pounds in rebate.
There used to be an item on the bill called 'service charge' which at the time, I did not know, this item should have been .
paid by Housing Benefit
About 4 years ago, they changed the name of the item to 'fixed costs'.
For a further 3 years running, they again charged me for heating that I had not used. Consequently, I started a second action in the Small Claims Court last year to claim back 3 years of heating charges, 3 years of 'fixed costs' (which the Court agreed were service charges) and statutory interest from 30 days after the end of each heating season (1st April every year) up to the time I was finally paid when I had to use Enforcement Officers due to non-payment.
I have just received my latest bill which again includes heating charges and service charges. I am chronically ill but still am able to bring a third action action against the Council as I have the personal acumen to do so.
My two ward Councillors (Labour) refused to answer my correspondence since I stood against one of them in 2007 as a UKIP Candidate.
After my second action, In July of this year, I wrote to both of them pointing out that hundreds of tenants on Housing Benefit were being charged service charges which were the responsibility of the Council and that the Council were deliberately withholding heating rebates for 8-9 months after they were payable without legal reason. This letter was ignored.
Yesterday, I wrote to them again saying that I was prepared to take the Council to Court for a third time, but this time, I told them that I would be sure tell the Court that the two Councillors in question had ignored the situation. Within 3 hours, one of them acknowledged my communication.
As previously stated, I have the ability to look after myself but there are hundreds of people who may not have my ability and lose several hundreds of pounds because of it.
I understand that under British law there is no such thing as a 'class action' but is there some way that I can help them collectively?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 4 months ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I am quite prepared to wait for a while in order to find out how I can help these other people.
Expert:  SolicitorRM replied 4 months ago.

Hi, thank you for your enquiry and your action. Congratulations on your successes to date and no doubt give the recurring issues you would succeed the third time if you were to go back to Court. The only way I can think of is for your to speak to a local Housing solicitor and to tell them of the situation that you know many are facing and the need to take action to prevent continued suffering. They would thank you for this because although they cannot do a class action they will be able to reach out to residents and offer to assist them to reclaim their financial loss against the local authority and they will be able to issue individual claims against the council. A big firm with the resources and finances will be the most likely taker of your proposal because they will be able to afford paying the issue fees and not expect the residents to pay and to also offer fee arrangements that will not see the residents have to fork out solicitors' costs upfront. I hope this helps and I would be grateful for your rating at your earliest convenience. All the best