What is Which? on about?
It did very little, very late on the ground rent scandal and did NOT prompt the Competition and Markets Authority mis-selling finding … at all
The Consumers’ Association Which? has put round a press release today claiming that the Competition and Markets Authority’s powerful report into the leasehold mis-selling scandal echoes its own rather tardy report into the issue in June 2018.
Here is Which?’s report in its April edition of its Money magazine, which was circulated to national news media. LKP also sent round a press release suggesting journalists either ignore the item or ridicule it. Our reasons are below:
Here are a few facts:
1/ The Which? leasehold report came out in June 2018.
Er … at that point the then Communities Secretary Sajid Javid had already undertaken to ban leasehold houses and set new ground rent to zero in December 2017. This remains the government’s position.
2/ LKP had repeatedly met Which?, with landlord and tenant lawyers, sharing our surveys and data and urging it to use its super-complaint powers. It declined to do so.
3/ Instead, it launched another survey taking up the resources and time of the National Leasehold Campaign. This was published in June 2018.
LKP had managed to get the issues to national media prominence in October 2016.
4/ None of which would matter much, if it had not then given itself a massive pat on the back for demonstrating something that was already pretty well known.
Sir Ed Davey MP (LibDem), June 2018:
“I’m glad Which? has at last joined the long running campaign by cross-party MPs against shocking abuses of leaseholders.
“Now they are using a summary of the research by the excellent Leasehold Knowledge Partnership in their input to this campaign, I hope Which? will also now consider using their super-complaint powers, as they were requested to do last year.
“Millions of leaseholders need Which? to use their powers and significant wealth and without further delay.”
Answer from Which?: None.
5/ The report in the Which? magazine (which is its press release) indicates that the Competition and Markets Authority “echoes Which?’s 2018 investigation into punitive clauses that cause ground rents to double every ten years and unreasonable ‘permission’ fees for maintenance and home improvements’ …
6/ … Hold on. This scandal was revealed by LKP, helped by our MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold and MPs such as Sir Peter Bottomley (Con), Jim Fitzpatrick (Lab), Sir Ed Davey (LibDem) and Justin Madders (Lab). It was then taken up by the leaseholders themselves, who formed the National Leasehold Campaign in January 2017.
7/ This pressure resulted in the Communities Select Committee, under Clive Betts MP, conducting its own thorough investigation, including public questioning of leaseholders, organisations such as LKP, trade bodies, developers and freeholders. This was the first time developers and freeholders have been questioned in a public forum since the scandal broke.
8/ The result was a devastating report published in January 2019 here: https://www.leaseholdknowledge.com/communities-select-committee-mps-issue-devastating-report-into-the-toxic-leasehold-system/
9/ It was this report, as is acknowledged by the Competition and Markets Authority, which made it launch its own mis-selling investigation – having previously turned down a request to do so from the Communities Secretary.
10/ Which?, which once thought paying its own CEO £800,000 a year was a good idea, was insignificant in influencing the CMA.
Our request to journalists is: either ignore this outrageous bit of self-puffery by Which?, or ridicule it as it so richly deserves.