For the third time the Tchenguiz freehold company Proxima GR has failed to win an LVT action claiming costs for its legal team to inspect a right to manage application. The residents of Marathon House, in Marylebone, central London, which until obtaining RTM earlier this year was managed by Peverel and is now managed by LKP-accredited managing agents HML Andertons, are celebrating what they ominously refer to as “our first LVT win”.
The bill was only £425.89 for one hour and 50 minutes of time of the in-house legal team of Estates and Management, an associated Tchenguiz company. But the residents at Marathon House – built in 1960 as the Castrol HQ – successfully argued that it should not be paid as there was no evidence of a contractual arrangement between Proxima GR and Estates and Management. They won the case with a ruling on November 16, on the same grounds as two previous LVT actions involving Proxima GR and other RTM companies.
The residents say they were unaware of the bill until they were faced with being taken to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.
To obtain right to manage, Marathon House employed Canonbury Management. Owing to a confusion over contact details, the RTM directors were not aware of the legal bill, although it was successfully claimed by Proxima GR that reminders were sent out. “To say that we were disappointed with Canonbury would be a bit of an understatement,” said the Marathon House directors.
Leasehold Knowledge Partnership understands from Canonbury Management that it was no longer acting for Marathon House at the relevant time, and had no obligation to maintain correct contact details for it, which, in any event, would always have been Marathon House’s responsibility. Canonbury Management has informed us that it had actually warned Marathon House RTM that third parties continued to contact Canonbury instead of the RTM company, and had asked it to make sure that third parties had the correct contact details. This message had been acknowledged by a RTM director.
In a statement to residents the Marathon House directors said: “It is our intention to provide summary information to Leasehold Knowledge Partnership with a view to publicising the outcome of the case, hopefully to discourage Proxima GR from filing any further such cases and to alert other new RTM companies that they can object to being asked to pay costs where a contractual relationship does not exist.”
Marathon House counterclaimed for costs – £500 would have been the maximum – but the landlord was deemed to have acted reasonably in relying on the incorrect contact details supplied by Canonbury.
The case reference is LON/00BK/LCP/2012/0020.