LKP were invited to 10 Downing Street for a meeting yesterday to discuss the leasehold sector and the need for reform.
Every area of the sector was discussed – including, at length, retirement housing – at a meeting that was held at the request of Sir Peter Bottomley, who was accompanied by Sebastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd, of LKP.
Tomorrow, January 29, we are holding a meeting for 70 stakeholders and politicians in Westminster.
We are not going to report the Downing Street meeting in detail.
The reason for this is discretion, and because house builders’ lobbying – including that of retirement house builders – pervades every level of government and there is no advantage at all in discussing the matter publicly.
We referred, among other matters, to the calamitous Campaign for Housing in Later Life, in which AgeUK declined to participate, Shelter resigned and Peverel was sacked (for its Peverel / Cirrus cheating). The episode contrasts with reports into the retirement sector which ignore the delicate issue of its poor reputation among putative buyers.
Suffice to say, the LKP concerns were outlined, and we were heartened by the level of knowledge that was revealed.
The issues discussed included:
forfeiture, commonhold, re-sale values of retirement housing, poor reputation of retirement housing, Demos retirement housing report (funded by the House Builders Federation), developers selling freeholds as the “cherry on the cake”, ground rents, insurance commissions, the reason for large property management companies, the manner in which they gain contracts from developers, the opaque “trust” accounts they hold for leaseholders, the reasons why freeholders and their managing agents won’t confront developers over warranty/ snagging issues, the property tribunals, their cost regimes, issues in Witney of management charges and asset values. And, most importantly, the issue of retirement house managers’ flats: who owns them, why and is there any right to sell them off.
Following the meeting, LKP held another in Westminster itself with Solicitor-General Robert Buckland, Conservative MP for South Swindon.
Mr Buckland has been a firm supporter of leaseholders in Swindon, and he has attended a number of LKP briefings at the Commons. He is well informed of LKP’s coverage of Bovis Homes dispensing with the services of Countrywide Estate Management.
LKP would like to acknowledge the role of Cherry Jones, of Swindon managing agent Home from Home Property Management for bringing the scandals in Swindon to national attention.
More information on these issues may be provided to LKP newsletter subscribers in restricted circulation.