David Cameron stepped into a row at a retirement development in his own Witney constituency where the freeholder is the Tchenguiz’s owned Retirement Care (BH) Limited and the managing agent was Peverel.
Both appear to have bent over backwards to accommodate the prime minister, and – remarkably – Peverel walked away without fighting the issues. Indeed, it offered an “elegant solution” to what seemed an intractable legal case.
By March last year pensioners at Windrush Court, in Burford, the “gateway to the Cotswolds”, had been mutinous for three years and some were refusing to pay service charges at the new-build development.
These had risen to £2,100 a year, residents claim, even though 17 of the houses on the site are freehold and there are only three leasehold properties.
“The service charges just kept on rising and Peverel came up with all sorts of excuses to levy fees,” claims Susan Hunt, who has sold the £285,000 two-bedroom house that belonged to her 92-year-old mother, who has moved into a nursing home.
“When people buy into this sort of retirement complex they have no idea what they are doing.”
Hunt also expressed her exasperation at exit fees, sub-letting fees and the managing agent seeking to check that tenants and new purchasers are aged over 60, which is a condition of the site.
There is no evidence that Peverel did anything other than enforce the contacts and lease terms, and it claims the fees did not increase unreasonably at Windrush Court.
“The average annual increase in management fees over the last five years was 3.6 per cent,” Peverel claims. “The average annual increase in service charges over the last five years was 3.7 per cent.”