LKP chair Martin Boyd and Sir Peter Bottomley attended a meeting at Number 10 yesterday to urge government to overturn its flawed statutory instrument to reform recognised tenants’ associations.
The MHCLG announced changes in October and made the existing arrangements even worse for leaseholders.
The key hurdle faced by leaseholders is to contact their leasehold-owning neighbours, who may not live at the site, and freeholders are obliged to hand over the contact details BUT only when each individual leaseholder has given consent and freeholders are given four months to provide the information.
LKP has urged that all leaseholders are automatically enrolled in a recognised tenants’ association – which has the means to ask the tribunal to see a site’s accounts – and leaseholders who do not want to be part of an RTA have to contract out of the association.
RTAs are often the leaseholders’ first step to empowerment, and are fiercely resisted by landlords determined to maintain their control over a building’s management.
John Christodoulou, the Monaco-based freeholder at West India Quay – a prime site at Canary Wharf in London’s docklands – thought it worthwhile to spend £75,000 on a QC to attempt unsuccessfully to thwart a recognised tenants’ association.
West India Quay’s victory against £74,560 legal onslaught … for a recognised residents’ association
At another of Mr Christodoulou’s Docklands sites, Canary Riverside – which was back in court on Monday (report to follow) – the entire membership of the RTA was threatened with defamation proceedings in a separate dispute.
Canary Riverside freeholder told to co-operate with court appointed managing agent
Freeholder’s barrister Justin Bates named in Parliament yesterday. And Benjamin Mire. And Tchenguiz. And Yianis. And Israel Moskovitz …
How to set up a Residents Association (RA) became very troublesome.
In 2014 Ms Jane Hewland was secretary of a Residents Association at West India Quay who was sent a Libel threat from the Freeholder just before a Tribunal Hearing. Questions emerge from a First-Trier Tribunal (FTT) hearing into an application by Leaseholders to form a recognised RA. The Freeholder and his professional advisors were playing the system against what they wrongly assumed was a group of unassisted lay residents who applied for recognition.
* Freeholder have informed Leaseholders “unfortunately, our systems were down for quite a while”, resulting in the Case Bundle being sent only 2 days before a hearing.
*This happened in 2014 when a couriered letter from City law firm King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, representing Freeholder and Head Lease Owners at West India Quay Development Company (Eastern) Limited and No 1 West India Quay (Residential) Limited. It was later understood that both of these companies were part of the same group.
*They may send so much information, mostly not required and hidden amongst will be the information you need. The tribunal may give Freeholder a series of delays, including for witness statements which should be ready one week before a hearing. Late submission of documents by Freeholders and Advisors is a normal happening and had been reported time after time to the Judge Siobhan McGrath, who headed the service in 2014, but still continues to happen, as it did in the 1980s.
*This occurrence happened two days before the hearing in the form of a couriered letter from a City law firm King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, who represented the Freeholder and Head Lease Owners at the site: West India Quay Development Company (Eastern) Limited and No 1 West India Quay (Residential) Limited. It is understood that both of these companies are part of the Yianis group.
*This read “You accuse our client of, at worst, a criminal offence, and, at best, inappropriate professional behaviour for a landlord of a large residential real estate.” It would appear the complaints concern remarks made verbally, and it is not clear when. This solicitors’ letter was couriered before the hearing Mr Nick Brocklesby, a partner in the litigation department of King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, emailed Ms Hewland to ensure that she had received the letter, Saying “We look forward to receiving a response to this letter as a matter of urgency,” On the morning of the hearing, Mr M Boyd wrote to Mr Brocklesby, It is an unfortunate coincidence your email was sent so late (19:41) the night before the hearing, but is something which is perhaps, rather too often in these types of cases.”
*Mr Brocklesby replied in an email that was copied to Sebastian O’Kelly, of LKP: “The letter that we wrote to Ms Hewland relates to confidential matters as between our clients and Ms Hewland. Those matters are unrelated to Ms Hewland’s hearing, and we do not see why she has found it necessary to seek your involvement, or why you have found it necessary to copy Ms Hewland’s MP. There is no reason for you and others to be made privy to the substance of a private dispute. In fact, your being forwarded the letter only exacerbates our clients’ concern that there is an unmerited campaign being instigated against them. Notwithstanding the above, the suggestion that our letter is a distraction, and that its timing is unfortunate, misses the point. *The letter was sent in response to recent events. Further, we have made clear to Ms Hewland that our clients are keen to avoid this discrete matter becoming an on-going distraction, and that it is open to her to prevent that. We have respected your request not to send Ms Hewland any further correspondence until the hearing has concluded. We have extended this courtesy to you also. We will, however, still expect Ms Hewland to address our clients’ concerns.”
*Of course, companies have a right to defend their reputations, they also accept that Freeholders can employ whoever they like at the FTT.
*Similarly, leaseholders can involve whoever they like to ensure that the dispute is dealt with openly. If the system is being played against them, Politicians and others are free to help and comment.
*Sir Peter Bottomley – who following the case of West India Quay predicted there to be professional reputations ruined among lawyers, surveyors and accountants who play this game within Leasehold.
*You would think this stalling behavior would have had its day but The Leasehold Sytem needs radical reform and RTM made easier as the exploitation by Freehold/Landlord has been uncovered.
*UPDATE: Nothing further was heard of this blatant example of legal bullying.