UPDATE June 8 2017: LKP has received the following statement from Pete Redfern, CEO of Taylor Wimpey:
Dear Mr O’Kelly,
Thank you for your email dated 17 May.
In August 2009, we entered into a contract to sell the freehold of our Chancel Park development to Fairthatch GR Limited. As a result, Taylor Wimpey was not required to serve section 5 notices to offer the leaseholders the right of first refusal on the freehold to their properties.
Details of the sale to the freeholder were included in the sales pack documentation that was sent to our customers’ solicitors, and we would expect all solicitors to explain the ownership structure and lease terms of a property to their clients.
Originally published on May 17 2017:
The John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust is an active buyer of residential ground rents, including highly controversial ones that double every 10 years.
These were bought via Fairthatch GR Limited from Taylor Wimpey. Any leaseholders caught up in them will be eligible for the company’s Ground Rent Review Assistance Scheme.
The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership has asked the John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust whether owning doubling ground rents on residential property conforms to its standards of ethical investment.
The aims of the John Lewis Partnership include: “We want to build the skills of future generations and create better places for people to live, work in and enjoy. We aim to improve accessibility and inclusion – both in our shops and in the day-to-day lives of people struggling with social isolation.”
Its constitution includes Principle 7: “The Partnership aims to obey the spirit as well as the letter of the law and to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities where it operates.”
If you think doubling ground rents are an inappropriate investment asset class for the John Lewis Partnership Pension Fund you can write to Keith Williams, the partnership’s deputy chairman and chair of The Corporate Responsibility Committee via Miss Elli Share:
In March, the John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust informed LKP that it had no intention of selling its freehold interests to leaseholders unless forced to do so by leasehold house owners exercising their statutory right to buy.
Astonishingly, the John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust ’s freehold assets are managed by Estates and Management, the controversial ground rent and consent fee administrators that are part of Vincent Tchenguiz’s residential freehold empire. It is ultimately controlled by the Tchenguiz Family Trust, based in the British Virgin Islands.
Indeed, the directors of Fairthatch GR Limited are long standing Tchenguiz stooges, with the ultimate ownership of the John Lewis Partnership Pension Fund revealed on page 18 of the accounts here
One group of John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust leaseholders is based in Chancel Park, in Exeter, and another at the Miller’s Brow site, in Blackley, Manchester.
One buyer at Chancel Park bought in June 2012, although the 125-year lease began in 2009.
Ground rents start at £250 and rise to £8,000 a year in 50 years.
“Although I was aware these were the conditions of the lease, I was told by Taylor Wimpey that these sort of conditions were normal.
“When I purchased my flat I used Foot Anstey as my solicitors who were recommended by Taylor Wimpey, and I can’t recall if they pointed out the ground rent conditions at all, but they certainly didn’t draw my attention to it as being unusual.”
The freeholds to several blocks on the estate (Raleigh House, Drake House, Livingston House and Fiennes House) were then sold on Fairthatch GR Limited in April 2014, it is claimed.
The price was £253,125.
The leasehold claims: “Although the Right of First Refusal is provided by Part 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, when Taylor Wimpey sold the freehold, the leaseholders were not notified in advance of the terms of the proposed disposal and we received no offer notice.”
LKP is asking Taylor Wimpey to confirm whether this was the case.
The other group are leasehold house owners at Miller’s Brow, in Blackley, Manchester.
One told LKP:
“We used a solicitor from Bannister Preston as suggested to us by Taylor Wimpey.
“Though we discussed the question of buying the leasehold [freehold] with this solicitor, at no point did he make clear to us that the ground rent would double every ten years or that the starting date for the first ten year period was actually 2008.
“The Taylor Wimpey representative at the development assured us that it would be possible to purchase the freehold at a later date.
“However, just before we were in a position to do so, Taylor Wimpey announced that they had sold the freeholds on the development to a company called Fairthatch.”
Bannister Preston has given statements to the BBC indicating that it fully informed Taylor Wimpey leasehold purchasers of the lease terms.
The John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust trustees are listed here:
The John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust, Taylor Wimpey, Foot Anstey and Bannister Preston Solicitors have been invited to comment on these issues.
I have no friends or family who shop at ‘ Petit bourgeois ‘ John Lewis / Peter Jones ( far too banal) However we all shop at’Waitrose’. Same animal I believe – BOYCOTT!!! Let’s all send an email to the CEO of the aforementioned. I believe the last recently departed CEO IS now Mayor of ‘wherever’. He in my view was absolutely ineffectual. ( Irrelevent I know!!) Let’s take John Lewis to task as it is a company that virtue signals on a nauseating level ( in my opinion) . And I loathe virtue signalling with a grand passion.
Right – I will be boycotting Waitrose and John Lewis immediately.
We also have experience of Estates and Management Ltd and can confirm they are totally unscrupulous and immoral in the way they exploit leaseholders, demanding extortionate fees for what they say is ‘in the lease’ eg regarding alterations or ‘events’ like sub-letting and mortgage transfers etc. often when it is not in the lease and also charging extortionate penalty admin fees for any delays and/or questioning and challenging any of their demands.
Their letters and emails are unsigned with no named person to contact. Their reply to any query does not address the point in question but just re-iterate their demands and threats. All communication from them is in the mode of a debt collection agency with ultimatums and threats and full of legal sounding language which when analysed means absolutely nothing – but often gets the vunerable to pay up.
I could go on and on about this company and am absolutely disgusted that John Lewis has involved itself with an outfit like this.
Shame on you Joihn Lewis!
Then consider whether they satisfy Company law as most of these MA’s are Ltd Co’s. This point is often overlooked. When one goes through the Mortgage Code it becomes even more apparent that rules have been and /or twisted. The Lender should have gone over the Lease, if not the contract is open to being Voided. This is in relation to charging outside the scope of the Lease, as well as how the Lease has been constructed too.
Please Twitter and Facebook all your friends and associates and ask them to boycott these companies until they dispose of these immoral investments. #leaseholdacandal
Well done Lesley. Me too. There are ALWAYS alternaive retail outlets in which to purchase quinoa.!! Fortunately I have never had the misfortune to deal directly with the Thenqz lads but have / am dealing with their protege-Oh dear is this little lady in for a surprise!!! I think her employer who is a big player in the ‘ Freehold,portfolio game’ will realise she is a liability when the sh*te starts to hit his lucrative fan!! She picked the wrong animal. It will be tears before bedtime for her and her employer.. Incidentally, I hear that BRIGHTON is enchanting at this time of year.
It appears that not content with having Tchenguiz companies manage their property portfolio, John Lewis Pension Trust are actually investing in them so that they can see new opportunities to expand the portfolio.
Without the financial guarantees offered by the John Lewis Trust it may well have been that in 2015 Fairthatch may not have been able to produce their accounts on an on going basis as they had a significant net liability value.
From Sharon Heald:
FAO Keith Williams
I am truly shocked and dismayed that the person who has funded Fairthatch GR to purchase mine and our estates Freehold are John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust. This selling on was done without our permission.
Sold to Fairthatch GR by Taylor Wimpey for just over half a million, about £7000,00 per property.
Doubling ground rent and onerous lease where we are charged for permission for alterations and all sorts.
The staring ground rent was £295.00 pa which was more than 0.1% of the value and with this to double in January!
Nationwide have withdrawn all lending on doubling leases and RPI if ground rent starts at more than 0.1% of the value! We now have massive legal costs in order to purchased the freehold and at much higher price of between £15,000 to £25,000.00 depending on tribunal.
This is more than an average working class family can afford. I am so stressed and unhappy that you funded the purchase of my freehold and dismayed at what is happening.
This house and many others have been miss sold on a massive national scale and I have emailed my councilor, MP and all other bodies with my concerns.
Please refer to your principle 7: “The Partnership aims to obey the spirit as well as the letter of the law and to contribute to the well being of the communities where it operates … ”
Well, I don`t think that me or my community feel that this has contributed to our well being.
I used Taylor Wimpey`s recommended solicitors who never once explained the lease or doubling ground rent.
I am not an expert in reading legal jargon and would have expected the solicitors being paid to have explained all this to me.
You have invested into immoral territory and I and many other people and our families are disgusted in this practice.
I would like you to look into this and explain what you intend to do moving forward to help me, my family and many other stuck in this leasehold nightmare.
Has anybody thought of staging demos outside branches of John Lewis / Peter Jones/ Waitrose??? This approach certainly worked outside Harrods/ Selfridges several years ago to stop them selling foie gras! If all the leaseholders whose Freehold is held by ‘Fairthatch GRLtd get together and noisily but peacefully protest with banners outside these stores it should make the ‘John Lewis Partnership Pension Trust director think very carefully about the company they keep.
How about a demonstration in Ladies Underwear.
Now now MH. Naughty sexist remarks should be kept behind closed doors!! Having said that I can rock a bustier like Beyoncé!!
Only if you ensure unshaven legs, work boots with a basque – got any mates who are game for a laugh?
I think I could rustle some up!!
Waitrose are so keen to advertise that all their eggs are “Free Range” so it comes as a shock to find that human beings who are unfortunate enough to be held hostage by the John Lewis Pension Trust property portfolio cannot be “Free Range as well!
Page 59 Conservative 2017 manifesto “Fair Markets for Consumers”:
“We will crack down on unfair practices in leasehold, such as escalating ground rents.”
I hope this will mean I can still buy a planned John Lewis washing machine later this year! Biting nose to spite face and all that.
John Lewis Never Knowingly Undersoiled!
Mr E that must surely be the slogan of boycott campaign. Excellent!
According to the Daily Mail, having a Waitrose close by adds 36K to the value of a property.
That said, having a Waitrose pension fund investing in a property destroys the value of the property!
EARLY DAY MOTION 342
That this house condemns Estates &Management Ltd for it’s exploitation of its leaseholders, especially the vulnerable: notes that the only way for leaseholders to contact this company by telephone on an 0906 number with a charge of 25 pence per minute and that they can only talk to an answerphone: further notes that leaseholders send cheques for ground rents to this company by recorded delivery are not banked, yet the company continues to send out penalty notices for late payment, with penalty charges added on and without previous written reminders as required by the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002: and calls on the Government to take action to enforce the act and to conduct an inquiry into the conduct of Estates & Management Ltd which has a complex ownership structure including companies registered in the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands controlled ultimately by the Tchenguiz Family Trust.
Is this really the most appropriate company for the John Lewis Pension Fund to have dealings with?
I cannot say that I fully understand TW response to seb O’ Kelly dated 8th June 2017,suffice to say that viscerally I feel that they are dumping all responsibility on the conveyancing solicitors, including the ones recommended by TW, acting for the purchasers who were lambs to the slaughter- including the solicitors Am I wrong in my assumption?
Re previous post- NO I did not mean that the solicitors were ‘ lambs to the slaughter”.should have edited!!
In 2013 TW had an EASYSTART scheme offer for new house buyers.
It was offered on condition the purchaser used their certified Solicitor and Mortgage adviser.
Persimmons, David Wilson and Barrets had similar.
How can any of them now pass the buck and suggest that the purchaser should have asked the right questions of the Conveyancy Solicitor they were forced to use.
Why did they recommend and insist the use of a poor Solicitor.
I totally agree with Kim and MH.
How dare Peter Redfern have the audacity to make the statement he has made.
Turning all the blame on the solicitors.
As I have said in the past, “in theory” if you are buying off a reputable person/company a solicitor should not be required.
Redfern, may I remind you that it was you/your company that that thought up and introduced these leasehold houses with onerous ground rents.
MH, I am sure all will be revealed one day!! Looks like Barwell might be losing his seat in Croydon. Shame………????
Let’s hope that Grant Shapps does not make a comeback.
Let’s hope we don’t get another EEJIT!! Barwell deserves to be kicked out.
It’s good to see Ed Davey back, how did all the other APPGs get on.
Where do we now stand on Leasehold Reform. We have been waiting for 7 years so we must be near the top of the list.
Or are we back to the situation of 2010.
Some sort of Leasehold reform is now almost certain. The problems are too big to go on ignoring.
For years the exploitation has been all hushed up but the world has changed and its getting increasingly more difficult to keep people in the dark.
Something along the lines of the Scottish model would be ideal, minor amendments won’t be enough- legislation is already too complicated.