The sheer burden of leasehold case work was laid bare in the Commons in the debate on the Leasehold and Freehold Bill by Labour MP for Walthamstow
Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, singled out a number of monetisers in the leasehold sector including controversial freeholder Israel Mockovitz in the debate on the Leasehold and Freehold Bill on Monday.
And she reeled off his companies, particularly Y and Y Management and Triplerose, to nods of recognition from housing minister Lee Rowley.
Y and Y a Management is a long term member of the Association of Residential Managing Agents / The Property Institute, which is also a freeholder lobbyist and whose pre-debate briefing to MPs included a reference to “rogue operator” managing agents who aren’t members. LKP has raised concerns about Y and Y with ARMA on several occasions.
“I think even Del Boy had limits compared with some of the people we are talking about,” Ms Creasy told MPs, in a impassioned speech, which made clear the sheer burden of casework for MPs caused by the leasehold system.
“Commonhold is the only way we can genuinely give voice to people. There is still time to put commonhold as the default tenure into this legislation, and give people the Christmas present they really deserve — the most proper protection against being exploited.”
Because there is such unanimity between the parties to reform leasehold, the Bill should aim high.
“One thing that I have learned in this place over 13 years is that when we get these precious opportunities — when there is cross-party agreement that reform needs to happen — we should aim for the big reform, because we might not get the opportunity ever again,” Ms Creasy said:
“Nobody in this chamber can defend leasehold. We can all see the value in having a system that allows our constituents to have a direct voice. Goodness knows, I am sure for many of us it would cut the amount of casework we have, if nothing else.”
Ms Creasy referenced one block of 24 flats in her constituency managed by Y and Y Management for Mr Moskovitz:
“To give some examples of the charges residents have faced, one was given an extra £1,500 bill and another was due to be evicted for being spuriously charged £5,000 by that company. It is not legally possible for those residents to withhold those payments and not lose their properties, so they had to try to find the money to pay, even though it was patently obvious that that egregious company was levying the charges as punishment for their having dared to exercise their rights. The only option open to them was to go to court.
“Again, this legislation offers nothing to help support people in such a situation. It offers nothing to help support people when their freehold manager shifts the leasehold around to avoid them having the right to manage or even the right to buy their own freehold out. This company decided the private communal gardens could be turned into a public car park, opening up the entire estate and letting in huge problems with antisocial behaviour, all because it thought it could make a fast buck in the London area with a car park.”
When a leaseholder who had onerous ground rent that was reviewed every five years with RPI, they asked whether they could vary that condition which prevented them reselling it.
“Triplerose responded, demanding an immediate non-refundable payment to provide a quote — just a quote — for what it would cost to vary that condition. It then came back with a quote of £700 for an admin fee, £1,400 for legal fees and £8,000 for the premium.”
Ms Creasy paid tribute to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold and commonhold reform, of which LKP is the secretariat:
“I have benefited from reading much of its material while trying — often in vain, frankly — to help constituents with freehold manager companies.”
She concluded: “If we get this legislation right, we can solve so many headaches for so many people.”