Around 50 leasehold stakeholders and seven parliamentarians attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform on Wednesday evening.
The parliamentary turnout was lower than expected, owing to the election.
Sebastian O’Kelly, trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, was the first speaker, welcoming owners of leasehold houses from the North West making their second journey to Westminster.
On March 22 the APPG was cancelled an hour and a half before it was due to start owing to the Westminster attack. This time the leasehold house owners arrived with five minutes to spare owing to the Euston fire.
Mr O’Kelly contrasted the powerful campaign focussed on leasehold houses with the far more widespread exploitation of flat owners which is so often below the radar of public opinion.
“The difference is this.
“In a block of flats you have to act as a group: if you highlight a dispute, you publicly run down the block. Some people – those having to sell – won’t appreciate this.
“Take Canary Riverside, in Jim Fitzpatrick’s constituency. One of the most poisonous leasehold disputes there is. The affluent leaseholders there will not speak in public. Also the freeholder has threatened 110 members of the residents’ association with defamation proceedings.
“Leasehold house owners are in a different position. If they want to demonstrate in Ellesmere Port or wherever, they can do so.
“They are answerable only to themselves.
“The developers and freeholders do not like this at all. They are used to divide and rule, stuffing right to manage applications, intimidating isolated individuals or nobbling control of residents’ management companies.
“The public anger at the leasehold houses scandal has taken them by surprise.”
Mr O’Kelly paid tribute to Katie Kendrick, who set up the National Leasehold Campaign Facebook group of 3,400 members.
He also praised her for getting a demonstration organised outside Redrow’s 2,000 leasehold houses site in Ellesmere Port.
He referred to dirty play here, too.
“It cannot be right that Clair Scott, a Bolton leasehold house owner, was intimidated by a defamation threat not to appear on a BBC radio show with me in January. It is not right that defamation solicitors were to be instructed by Linden homes against Louise O’Reardon.”
He praised both Sir Peter Bottomley and Jim Fitzpatrick for stopping this legal bullying in its tracks.
Flat Leaseholders should not suffer in silence, although they can be their worst enemy. Let me explain- I own a flat in a flat in a smart of London ( shared Freehold 7 flats) since I purchased the property 1997 it has always been managed in house and to great effect. 2014 we engaged a commercial managing agent. and the directorship of the Freehold company has changed, alas to naive clueless individuals. The managing agent who were previously ‘County Estate Management ‘ ‘ aka ‘Solitaire ‘ ‘Stonedale’ and affiliate to ‘Peverel’ OM and now ‘First port’. I am in a fortunate position i but have seen first hand by the action of our current agent the unscrupulous tactics they use. Let’s take them on and start a campaign . NAME AND SHAME. Stop whinging and let’s take these spivs on. I have nothing to gain but am ready to support others.
For many years and long before the campaign for those that were tricked into buying houses on a leasehold basis groups had been set up to fight the exploitation of leaseholders who lived in flats or retirement developments.
The original Truth About Solitaire, Peverel Action(now called About Peverel) Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and Leasehold Knowledge Partnership have been fighting a stalwart campaign both visible on the internet and also behind the scenes as well.
Where there is a difference in motivation is that many flat owners want a “quiet life” whilst those in retirement developments did not choose a retirement development to end up in a huge legal struggle.
Those who have bought leasehold houses have found themselves in a desperate situation that is an immediate threat to their financial security and simply cannot afford to take a back seat.
The scams that they are facing are broadly similar to those faced by leaseholders in flats.
Indeed the methods now being deployed against leaseholding house “owners” were honed originally on flat “owners” notably those whose freehold was owned by Tchenguiz Group Companies..
There is a school of thought in some quarters that it is better to stay silent for fear of affecting property prices.
This is an illusion. The reality is that property values actually are enhanced by up to 20% simply by getting rid of rip off managing agents.
Flat or house on leasehold, our fight is the same.
Indeed Mr E, however the shafted leasehold house ‘tenants’ are taking the fight to the unscrupulous operators. Flat leaseholders gripe but then do nothing due to the fact that they are “Too busy” – “Too much Hassle” want a “quiet life” etc. Flat Leaseholders must take a leaf out of the NLC ‘s book. Take action E.G. Start a campaign/ protest outside managing agents ‘Registered’ offices. Otherwise they should stop griping. i gave several friends who were looking to buy apartments in London for their children-they wanted to know who the managing agent was and when told proceeded no further with the purchase.
Possibly one of the largest and most controversial managing agents was the once mighty Peverel( now called Firstport) group of companies.
Since campaigning against them began they have lost several high profile developments(despite using every technical argument they could think of to prevent a Right To Manage), They have had to make record restitution’s to cheated leaseholders. They have been forced to “admit” to price fixing. Their holding companies were forced into administration. Their workforce has declined by at least 30%. they are still struggling under a burden of debt and paying penal interest rates on loans.
I so greatly admire and support. the work NLC does,
That said, it should be acknowledged that much of what NLC does has been learned from the original leasehold campaigners.
It is not them and us (and I know you are not suggesting that for a moment).
We are all united in the cause against exploitation. Your victory is our victory and vice versa..
Hear hear! United we stand and I certainly tip my hat ???? to the original campaigners who have done sterling work, particularly in shining a light under a rock to expose Peverel and their filthy tactics.
I would like to see a nationwide campaign against leasehold flats. Its a real rip off. Like it has been rightly stated, leaseholders are their own worse enemies. The question is , how to we eradicate such a bad system.
A survey showed 58% of leaseholders are dissatisfied.. I’m sure most of the million odd flat leaseholders would like nothing more than ownership of the land their home sits on and fair service charges.
However, Mr O’Kelly is spot on when he says highlighting problems will cause neighbour problems and reduce the value of your flat. FEAR not apathy is the reason many flat owners don’t go public.
Just as shocking as offshore freeholders is that Housing Associations like Moat and London & Quadrant are collecting ground rent freeholds on their London government sponsored regeneration projects e.g Greenwich Millenium Village.
Gavin Barwell and Sajid Javid must know about the many legal rip offs.. Unless one of the political parties included leasehold reform and a Housing Ombudsman in their manifesto nothing will change.. Unfortunately ripping off flat owners has been supported by successive governments through doing nothing.
I am sorry to disagree with you leaseholder, but there is Nothing to fear but fear itself. Flat Leaseholders need to step up to the plate- stop whinging and DO SOMETHING. The legislation us quite clear and if you are being ripped off then ACT. The legislation is quite clear. Are you willing set up a campaign against leaseholder abuse with me? If yes then please reply via this site. ACTION NOT WORDS!
I am afraid that when it comes to abuse by Mamagers/Freeholders in Retirement Complexes then there is often fear on the part of the elderly leaseholders to take action.
That is why they turned down the chance to act over the price fixing a few years ago.
Whilst there may have been a small minority willing to fight, the majority would have been either too elderly to suffer the stress, or completely unaware that they had been scammed, or frightened of possible reprocussions.if they acted against their management company.
It is for a stress free life that they choose this expensive lifestyle in the first place. Some of the more unscrupulous Managers know this, brainwashing these people into believing that’s what they are getting. By rocking the boat the leaseholder would only cause aggravation to themselves.
Therefore the few who want justice often find themselves in the minority which means they would be outvoted.
I am ! How do we go about it?
Hi Wizzy and others who want to make a stand; I am with you all the way. How we do that I wish I knew.
I live in a M&S retirement development managed by, yes, FirstPort, and buying it was the worst thing I, and my family did. I have tried to rally people here and have been ostracised for it, and I was only trying to get a, ‘Residents Association’ going. Everyone moans, the majority dislike living here, but they refuse to do anything to help themselves. FirstPort are the some of the most nasty and frustrating people I have ever had to deal with in all my long life.
Does anyone out there know anything about Appello, the company that manages the ‘Careline’ within the development? I have asked the area manager so many times “Does Appello ever go out to tender”, answer yes, then how does it always win the contract, no answer. I am sure Appello is somehow attached to FirstPort. This company has had four different names for their business in the four years that I have lived here.
Anyone any ideas on how I can find out more?
To clarify my previous post- The current managing agent of the building in which I own my flat are in my opinion, thoroughly unscrupulous. The CEO is a major player in buying up Freeholds/ Ground rents. Check out RCP holdings. Paul/ Clive Rayden.
I live on an estate with a mix of leasehold houses and small blocks of self contained flats all built in the early 1970s with 99 year leases. My sister who lives in a 3 bed semi purchased her freehold for approx £6000 . I paid £10000 to extend my lease under the 1993 act. My flat is worth less than half the cost of her house. She now owns the land that the house stands on, I simply have an extended tenancy with a peppercorn rent. Flat owners are treated despicably, and are disadvantaged in numerous ways. There is widespread ignorance regarding leasehold in general. Wouldn’t it be good if some of the personalities who have made their names on the various TV property shows got involved, or would it damage their careers.
I can understand that elderly and possibly vulnerable tenants in retirement homes not having the stomach to fight spivey Freeholders and their associated Managing agent companies, however leaseholders in conversions, purpose built block etc must walk the walk, galvanise and take note of the NLC approach. That is the only way to effect meaningful change. “Haven’t got the time” -“Too much hassle” – “Can’t be bothered” is really not an option I am afraid!!
The odds are stacked against the elderly in Retirement Complexes where the average age of leaseholders could be well over 80.
The complaints procedure of the biggest management company (which has to be your first approach) is long winded and will almost certainly result in a rejection.
Next step would be the ARHM, a completely ineffective organisation as I discovered myself.
Then the Omnbudsman where you will probably discover he does not deal with the problem you have.
All this process to get nowhere will take months, a stressful time for the over 80’s who cannot be expected to demonstrate with placards in the street.
That is why we need Government legislation.
At present there are thousands of M&S retirement properties which were built in the 1980’s with 99 year leases.some with just 70 years remaining.
Many leaseholders are completely unaware that they should be extending, saying what is the point at their age.
This is going to be the next big leasehold problem.
Exactly, which is why Flat Leaseholders need to set up a campaign and demand that the government bring in legislation that sees managing agents strictly regulated. I am believe that the complaints procedure is devised to ground complainants down. Flat Leaseholders must get some ‘fire in their belly’ and do what the spunky NLC have done. The spivvy agents will then not be able to play the divide and rule game. Leaseholders will not feel isolated, bullied or frightened by empty threats of forfeiture etc for not paying monies that are not properly recoverable under the lease or legislation.. These spivs must be brought to their knees. Flat leaseholders have to act as one – look to the big picture and NOT “will it effect the value of my flat”.FLAT LEASEHOLDERS RISE UP. ( It’s the only way)
It should be noted as well that should a resident in a retirement development
dare to challenge the managing agent, they leave themselves vulnerable to being targeted by the managing agent’s on site representative.
One common tactic used is to “turn” other residents against them, by persuading them that the complainant is a trouble maker that is making it difficult to manage the development..
I am afraid that you are right. ‘divide and rule’ is prevalent and it takes a brave leaseholder to make a stance. I can speak from personal experience.
Tribunals are not always friendly towards leaseholders who refused to tow the line. I often thought that the judge in our case should have his own house managed by the managing agents he liked so much…
It goes without saying that there are many more leaseholders than freeholders so if we had a true democracy, the legal position would be altered to address the imbalance strengthening the position of leasehold. . Ultimately, offer compensation to freeholders and allow all leaseholders to enfranchise, putting a definitive end to all the misery and exploitation.
Managing agents to be answerable to those who pay for them, i.e. the leaseholders. it worked in Scotland, so there is no reason it cannot be done.
Leaseholder, did you get any satisfaction from the FTT? Yes it does take a brave leaseholder to make a stance and jolly good on you for making that stance. Did none of your fellow leaseholders support you? FLAT Leaseholders must really consider banding together and taking on the Managing Agents. In the meantime have you not thought about a RTM? at lease that way you have control of your Managing Agent.
I am not sure about democracy.
A block of flats is a property asset. In many flats the freehold is worth a fraction – about 5% – of the collective value of the leaseholds.
So from a shareholder point of view, it is a minimal investment to obtain control.
On the continent, blocks of flats are broken up into shares, often thousandths,, with bigger, more valuable apartments having greater shares.
This is the calculation for ownership of the block and service charges.
We allow a minority shareholder control the place and the law backs him because he is the nominal “landlord”.
So I would say it is not an argument for democracy. It is an argument in favour coherent allocation of capital.