DCLG stakeholders’ meeting for leaseholders told property manager chairman must go
UPDATE: Roger Southam and Jim Fitzpatrick MP are being jointly interviewed on leasehold homes tomorrow on BBC R4 You & Yours 12.15
A motion of no confidence in Roger Southam, chairman of the Leasehold Advisory Service, was proposed at the DCLG leasehold stakeholders’ meeting this morning.
At the request of the proposer, the motion was not discussed, nor was a vote taken. But civil servants were asked to minute it.
The no confidence move follows the disastrous annual conference of LEASE on February 1, where unease about whether the quango actually supports the interests of leaseholders was publicly aired.
Housing minister Gavin Barwell told the conference:
“What we really want is for them [LEASE] to help leaseholders. To be solely, and unapologetically, on their side.”
The housing minister also pledged additional funds, so the quango does not have to depend on courses and seminars sold to commercialisers in the sector.
Sir Peter Bottomley, speaking later, also told the Leasehold Advisory Service to stop selling “dodgy” seminars to freeholders or the professionals they employ that exploit leaseholders.
“It is improper for anyone to stand in front of a conference such as this and give advice to freeholders on how you can hide your profits with insurance commissions.
“It happened but I hope it never happens again.”
Roger Southam is a controversial figure as chairman of the quango. He is a long-term property manager, who sold his company Chainbow to Savills, where he is now employed. Full archive
In the past, he has advertised his services to freeholders in order to “maximise ground rent incomes”.
Unaccountably, Chainbow also owned embedded management companies in prime Taylor Wimpey London sites, a practice that the developer terminated after the intercession of LKP. The companies are now under the control of the leaseholders.
In February Labour MP Justin Madders questioned in the Commons the suitability of Mr Southam to remain as chairman of LEASE.
“In order to regain leaseholders’ confidence, will ministers agree to an urgent review into the suitability of Mr Southam to continue as chair?”
The issue of leaseholder representation on the board of the Leasehold Advisory Service is now becoming a political issue.
Yesterday Sir Peter Bottomley and Jim Fitzpatrick wrote to the DCLG, in correspondence copied to Secretary of State Sajid Javid and housing minister Gavin Barwell”
“It should be mandatory that 50% of board members to LEASE represent leaseholders’ interests. They need to be experts in knowledge of today’s leasehold sector, with an established track record in identifying leaseholder issues, problems including abuses and able to identify workable solutions.
“Preferred criteria is that candidates are experienced in consulting with government policy makers on leasehold issues.
“Might you kindly confirm if the selection panel have included / considered these?”
Last week, Mr Fitzpatrick informed the housing minister:
“The APPG is still very concerned by some of the practices of LEASE and do not believe the organisation is working in the best interests of leaseholders who require help across the country.”
He requested an early meeting with the minister.