LKP has not been backward in criticising Peverel / FirstPort over the years.
However, it is reasonable and fair that the company’s achievement in getting on top of the service charge accounts is recognised.
Here FirstPort CEO Nigel Howell (below right) explains that more than 99% of its service charge accounts are completed on time
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 provides a statutory framework that governs how Landlords must deal with and account for Leaseholders’ money.
As part of this, residential property managers are required to submit a budget of the coming year’s costs to every development within one month of the year-end date, and accounts for the year within six months of the development year-end date.
As the largest UK residential property manager, FirstPort has 3,800 service charge budgets and accounts to complete each year, with scheme year-ends occurring at different months throughout the year.
FirstPort is happy to confirm that their budgets and accounts are up-to-date with over 99% complete on time per the Act, with the few remaining documents almost wholly complete awaiting Resident Management Company director sign-off.
As well as being timely, it is important that both financial documents are accurate, easy to read, and clear to ensure residents have the clarity on spend in their development and a transparent audit trail.
Therefore, whilst auditing the accounts is not a statutory obligation, FirstPort adopts best practice to provide an independent true and fair view of the finances of the developments.
Where FirstPort appoints the auditor all the accounts are fully audited by one of the UK’s largest professional audit practices, BDO.
The company delivers its development finances through a skilled team of experienced staff along with IT investments in an on-line purchasing and approval system and good accounts software to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the budgets and accounts.
With its size the company can achieve scale purchasing power for development operating spend and passes all of the price and quality benefits onto customers, taking no commissions on the spend.
It also maintains completely separate real bank accounts for every development, held under statutory Trust arrangements with Barclays Bank, and all of the bank accounts are reconciled every single day.
What this article doesn’t say as clearly as it might is that FirstPort has made some changes from the previous worst practices of Peverel OM:
1. Appointing someone who was effectively an internal auditor (on site, with an internal telephone extension) who relied on the company for most of his business and whose independence could reasonably be questioned; someone who was not subjected to any independent scrutiny.
2. Rolling up estate accounts into an aggregate account, commingling the funds of leaseholders from numerous developments (See earlier story on this site on number of different “Pegasus Court”s for the extraordinary opportunities for accidental and “accidental” misattribution of expenses)
It appears that there has also been some separation of functions to impose greater controls on procurement, things that would long ago have been standard in any properly run organization.
These changes and getting the accounts done on time is surely welcome to all concerned, but most of all to FirstPort to whom the alternative may have been extinction — they lose the right to collect funds for service charges not billed within statutory limits. The reputational damage has been severe, hence the rebranding of Peverel.
So, it’s a case of “Look, a leopard with new spots!”. (or “Look, a flying pig, wearing lipstick!”?)
What are the chances of FirstPort offering any compensation to leaseholders who were ripped off in the past? I have no doubt that the current directors have a file of potential liabilities (paying service charges of defaulters from reserves e.g.).
As someone who escaped from the worst practices of Peverel there is no chance I’d ever consider giving any business to FirstPort. It would take more than a new name and an “Improved” sticker on the box.
This is not an LKP accredited company. My advice to any leaseholder is:
1. Acquire the right to manage (LKP can point you in the right direction)
2. Appoint an LKP accredited managing agent
3. Acquire the freehold
Delighted to hear that according to Nigel Howell that 99% of service charge trust accounts are up to date.
What of the treatment meted out to leaseholders who withheld service charge payments due to the accounts not being up to date?
Will they receive an apology and a refund of any administration or debt collection charges?
I totally agree. You can put lipstick down on a pig but it’s still a pig!
Lipstick ON a pig, but it’s still a pig.
I am sure every one would agree with Nigel Howell on the importance of timely and accurate accounts.
Perhaps he will be able to “encourage” Appello Telehealth/Careline to file their accounts with Companies House as they are currently listed as OVERDUE?
Were the accounts at Hillside Court part of the 99% of development accounts referred to by Nigel Howell?
That is the Hillside Court that only after the intervention of LKP had 39,377 pounds refunded to their trust account having wrongly paid exit fees to the freeholder instead of the service charge fund.
Perhaps Mr Howell would like to clarify as to whether it was the Firstport accounts department, the auditor or Hillside Court residents that found the error?