A property manager with FirstPort, who secretly joined a closed Facebook group of leaseholders, is to leave the company.
He joined the group under the made-up name Jamie Kendrick, presumably a witticism referencing Katie Kendrick, the co-founder of the National Leasehold Campaign and a trustee of LKP, along with the other two NLC co-founders Joanne Darbyshire and Cath Williams.
The FirstPort manager then invited leaseholders to share their grievances about FirstPort, making disparaging remarks about it, in order to glean information about leaseholder dissatisfactions.
In a statement to LKP, FirstPort CEO Nigel Howell said: “The property manager is now serving notice/completing handover and will leave FirstPort very shortly. Like all good companies, we have a policy to cover these sorts of actions.”
Previously, the leaseholders who raised the issue with FirstPort were informed:
“At FirstPort we always expect our colleagues to act and behave in a professional way at all times. The issues you have raised are deeply concerning to us … . I want to assure you that we will act quickly and professionally in line with our internal procedures and policies to see what has happened. And we have already started a full and thorough investigation and will take the appropriate actions, if the allegations are founded.”
FirstPort is the largest property manager in the country with around 160,000 flats under management.
Its most important client is Vincent Tchenguiz, who accounts for around 60% of the business. Mr Tchenguiz used to own FirstPort – then called Peverel – until his arrest on wrong evidence in February 2011 by the Serious Fraud Office.
The company went into administration but recovered, assisted by a portfolio of house managers’ flats in the retirement sector, where Peverel / FirstPort is the largest property manager.
How a property manager came to own these flats has never been explained, or challenged in the courts.
FirstPort came into being after Peverel’s reputation took a further hammering by a ruling by the Office of Fair Trading that it had operated a collusive tendering racket. Bogus bids for expensive electronic door systems at retirement blocks were pitted against Peverel’s subsidiary Cirrus, which repeatedly won the contracts.
www.BetterRetirementHousing.com exposed the scandal, which was taken up by media and MPs, and Peverel ended up making a £100,000 “goodwill gesture” to the ripped off retirement sites:
The leasehold trade bodies surpassed themselves by declining to discipline Peverel. And curiously enough, no one at Peverel / FirstPort was given the boot.
But a re-brand to FirstPort was deemed necessary.