Her story of how she tracked down more than 130 leasehold owners at the Pinnacle in Wakefield has long been known to readers of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership website. The newspaper contacted LKP for an inspiring case study and we suggested an interview with Karen.
Many of the leasehold owners were living far afield in countries such as Abu Dhabi, China and Canada.
The site was run by freeholder the Adderstone group’s Avoca Estate Management, and was no good in Karen’s view. That was a view shared by 90 per cent of the leasehold owners, as it happened, who supported right to manage.
“We saved £5,000 on buildings insurance in the first year and last year we had over £25,000 left in a reserve fund, which has allowed us to decorate the whole building. We never had a surplus with our previous managing agents.”
In response, the former managing agent Avoca says the insurance in place now is less comprehensive than the one they provided. As for the sinking fund, the former managing agent says it inherited an overspend and as a result it is not fair to compare the two situations.
Karen now has her sights set on enfranchisement so that leasehold owners of The Pinnacle can have complete control over their homes. She is even helping leasehold owners from other developments to take a stand.
“Things are really looking up for us,” she says. “We are a very strong group of leasehold owners and it is the best thing we ever did by taking control. I would advise anyone to only buy a leasehold that has a management company controlled by the leaseholders, or freehold property where all the owners have a share of the title.”
Some five million people are living in leasehold properties today, and most will have had no realistic alternative because nearly all flats are sold on this basis in England and Wales. The leasehold sector is unregulated and anyone can be a freeholder or managing agent, so it’s vital to understand your rights and get to grips with how your block is managed.