By Harry Scoffin
On Wednesday, Parliament will hear a private member’s bill designed to force management companies of housing estates to provide transparency around unregulated “fleecehold” charges.
Preet Kaur Gill, Labour MP for Edgbaston and shadow minister for international development, will make the case for her Freehold Properties (Management Charges) Bill immediately after prime minister’s questions.
If passed, the law would oblige landlords to provide accounts of management charges payable under Section 19 of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 to freehold property owners.
It is the second legislative proposal on fleeceholding to be raised in recent months.
Ms Gill says the existing law requires urgent reform. She claims Section 19 expects more from the consumer homeowner, who pays the fees, than the landlord or scheme manager who is expected to provide a service.
Ms Gill has been working closely with the Calthorpe Residents’ Society in her constituency who have faced difficulties as a result of their management schemes.
In comments to Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, Ms Gill said:
“It is clear to me that in its current form, the balance of power is not fair nor is it appropriate. Management companies can, by law, use enforcement agents to collect the management charges but individual dwelling freeholders are unable to even obtain details of where the money they have been charged goes or has gone.
“Residents who own their own homes as freeholders are left feeling helpless as they try to find out how much is left in the scheme and they are rightly aggrieved that, despite their payment into said fund, the opaqueness of it makes them powerless to try and enforce the responsibilities of the landlord or management scheme manager.”
Meanwhile, Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman awaits a second reading of her Freehold Properties (Management Charges and Shared Facilities) Bill.
Proposed in November, Goodman’s policy makes express provision for a cap on charges. It also seeks to empower freehold homeowners to self-manage, which is an improvement on the government’s stated ambition of granting non-adopted private housing estates the right to a court-appointed manager (despite LKP concern over the viability of Section 24).
A Freeholder living on a 201 housing estate split 50/50 Lease & Freehold, where FirstPort Property Services Ltd (Lead Legal Consultant) wrote saying:
Despite pointing out clear deficiencies in the claim you made, we note your reluctance to enter into any form of settlement negotiations. Purely on a commercial basis and without admitting any guilt FirstPort is prepared to settle the claim, in full and final settlement. Firstport Property Services Ltd paid the full claim covering the first 12 of the 18 years of £733.32.
FirstPort demand Freeholders Terminate the Claim in the Courts, by filing a Notice of Discontinuance which basically means they didn’t have a Claim in the first place. This could be a problem if this Discontinuance Notice is filed because FirstPort could then claim their costs which would be more than the settlement, Be Aware!
When negotiating a settlement (usually at the very last moment) Firstport or their representatives often J.B. Leitch will ask a claimant to sign the Discontinuance Notice “purely for administrative purposes”. A poster eloquently wrote, never ever do this under any circumstances, by doing so, you leave yourself liable to costs, that cannot be challenged, because you will have withdrawn the claim, which is a technical admission that your claim has failed, for any claimed costs the court will only consider who withdrew the claim, not the result.
So if asked to sign a Discontinuance Notice, refuse stating that the matter can be settled without signing, turn up at the court and show the judge that an agreement has been reached save to the signing of the Discontinuance Notice.
Managing Agents such as FirstPort Property Services LTD or OM Management Services Ltd have been getting away with charging for items that were not included and Outside the Terms of a Transfer Deed when a Builder such as Barratt Homes Ltd (3018173) completed a Development and where the Local Authority had relinquished the right to the Adoption of the Common Areas. (Taken from HM Land Registry) 1999.
An email received from the Freeholder went on to say the following:-
It should be a perfect way to send a message on behalf of all Leaseholders highlighting the way a simple Statute of 1705 can be misused by Developers which has caused a variety of subsequent problems. A real concern is Central & Local Governments refusals to accept there are real problems for all Leaseholders, let alone that deception may have been involved.
A new phenomenon based on what Lawyers/Solicitors believe their clients can get away with in a Post-Truth Age. The shift in opinion is derived by Landlord Led Wishful Thinking and has become commonplace and accepted by Housing Ministers and others in Authority.
It serves Government Cost-Cutting as well as Developers and Landlords where the underlying mechanics may have a serious criminal logic fault in how the business has been carried out. The Common Practice of relying on the 1705 Statute (s. 142 of the LPA 1925) to transfer a Freehold without the Tenants Consent and the Obligations Assigned needs overhauling.
It would be a considerable Public Service if LKP and other similar Websites would lend Moral Support towards bringing a prosecution where repeated deception is recorded, as could be with further postings, relating to the Estate Management of such Developments.
First posted on About Firstport January 25, 2019
Especially for SirPee – Geordie Lass and husband.
Further to my last posting, Freeholders are subject to the following Clauses in a Transfer Document.
THE SIXTH SCHEDULE (Managers Covenants)
1. To carry out the works and do the acts and things set out in the SEVENTH SCHEDULE as appropriate to each type of Dwelling PROVIDED THAT: AND
SEVENTH SCHEDULE (Communal Areas and Facilities Costs)
Keeping the gardens and all other soft landscaped areas of the Communal Areas and Facilities generally in a neat and tidy condition.
What happens is, charges outside an Agreement, can be added which are in no way connected or related in any way to Soft Landscaped – Parts of any Communal Areas.
Expenses Type Charged, Not Applicable, have been:-
* General Repairs
* Landscape Costs
* Fire Equipment
* Health & Safety
* Pest Control
* TV Areals
* Monitoring Costs
* Refuse Bins
All the above have been found charged to Freeholders under Estate Management Fees.
Some information was extracted from FirstPorts Annual Statement. 2016.
This thread is of great importance for both Leaseholders & Freeholders.
It is great news that Mr Barry Gardener MP and his PA Jackie George are on board and are asking questions of Brent Council, Barrette Homes that was, and Firstport Property Services Ltd
They have been copied in with correspondence with Firstport (FP) and I understand that they have only replied to one resident out of over 20, of 202 houses who are affected by overpayments for Management Fees for some 18 years amounting to circa £1,000 for each dwelling.
Registered letters have been sent as reminders and with lack of response by FP Legal Team, the only thing left is taking them to court again.
This would be the second time of legal action. Copies of papers may be available to all those in Brent who purchased houses on the Barretts Estate where unnecessary Management Fees for items not required or needed have been charged for.
The difficult in response from FP has created this need which can be seen on your TV on Wednesday after PMQs.
Others helping are Councillor Afzal and Brent Planning Department, along with a visit to Luton by homeowners and leaseholders.
It seems even the Leader of Brent Council – Councillor Butt and Councillor Afzal do not have any clout when requesting the original plans provided for these large developments showing who owns the land, where Firstport Property Services Ltd. are the Estate Managers.
Residents who have been charged circa Thousands of Pounds each on a 202 property development where 50% are Freeholders and 50% Leaseholders are attempting to have this wrongly charged Management Fees for items of work not included in the original Transfer.
FP has refunded some individuals but state they did no wrong???
Surely if the Leader had welcomed Firstport into Brent to providing Management of High Rise Flats in the Wemberly Area, and FP is Estate Managers to so many developments and it has been seen to be not only a poor Estate Manager but refuse to accept that wrong charges were made.
Then FP either refuses to reply to individuals, taking some 18 months before they accept to pay, in the same breath, refuse to accept the facts, wrongly charged costs,
As individuals now band together, evidence is emerging of wrongdoing on a massive scale with more and more residents now wanting refunds.
Trust Pilot has shown 96% of those who have posted have given FP either 1 Star.or as seen no Stars if were allowed to do so.
Well done Preet Kaur Gill Labour MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham – Shadow Minister for International Development.
Today in Parliament we heard the Private Member’s Bill.
It is designed to force Managing Agents and Managing Companies of Housing Estates such as Calthorpe Estate and Firstport Property Services Ltd to provide Openness & Transparency including the Nature of Expenditure, around unregulated Fleecehold Charges.
When passed the law would oblige Managing Agents/landlords to provide proper accounts of Management Charges also known as Estate Fees where Invoices are placed in Expenses Files but not available for Freeholders to see or challenge. Recent challenges by both Freeholders and Leaseholders have begun in Brent Council and is gathering pace around the country.
This will help with another Nail in the Coffin of these Exploiters.
These Estate Fees are payable under Section 19 of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 to Freehold Property Owners and is the SECOND recent proposal on Fleecehold Reform this year after MP Helen Goodman. whose, Freehold Properties (Management Charges of Shared Facilities) Bill.
Check out About Firstport Website for more information.