It is with regret that we announce the death of leasehold campaigner Nigel Wilkins, who for many years ran CARL: the Campaign for the Abolition of Residential Leasehold.
He died in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital on February 25 aged 66.
Nigel, a resident in South Kensington, in London, was an important activist and Labour party supporter who drove forward the agenda for leasehold reform from the 1990s onwards.
He worked closely with fellow activist Joan South, who is still recalled by some leasehold sector professionals of that time.
Their work contributed to the 2002 Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act, although Nigel never believed this flawed legislation was the final answer to residential leasehold, which he wanted abolished.
However, it did introduce commonhold as an alternative on the statute book. It is a standing reproach to legislators – and civil servants who have minimised the issues of leasehold for years – that matters in residential leasehold are not right.
Nigel believed that commonhold should be mandatory, which would have prevented the repeated scandals reported on this website.
He was appalled by developers loading residential leases with lucrative income streams, and the sale of freeholds to anonymous investors often based offshore. Indeed, offshore finance, accountancy fraud and banking were his areas of professional expertise.
Nigel worked for many years at the Financial Services Authority, and its successor the Financial Conduct Authority.
He was an active supporter of the Labour party in Kensington – evidence in itself of an optimistic and determined mindset – and stood unsuccessfully as a local councillor.
The newsletters of CARL, published in printed form, were always very well written and researched, and I would receive them regularly in my time as a property editor on a national newspaper.
He was delighted to witness Parliament – at last – debating leasehold again. The last time we met was at the House of Commons on December 20 last year for the leasehold debate, which was prompted by LKP patrons Jim Fitzpatrick and Sir Peter Bottomley.
He could also provide excellent insights into leasehold’s many absurdities, rightly seeing it as a form of residential tenure that continues only because investors and developers make so much money out of it.
I was struck by his observation that a mortgage fraudster, a Mr Waya, was treated more leniently by the criminal courts, which sequestered his leasehold assets, than ordinary, non-criminal leaseholders are by the civil courts in forfeiture cases.
The criminal courts sent Mr Waya to prison, but scrupulously returned to him his seed capital that set him on the way fraudulently to buy other properties.
Nigel pointed out: “So leaseholders are being treated far worse than criminals when it comes to forfeiture. Moreover any debts due are purely civil debts, and not a result of theft.
“As we all know a large proportion of the “debts” owed by leaseholders arise because of theft and incompetence by landlords, managing agents and others – the so-called “professionals”.”
Nigel died suddenly at the age of 66 on February 25, after a cold resulted in lung infection and heart failure.
There will be a memorial celebration of his life at Kensington on May 6. More details from Charlotte Martin firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry to hear this and condolences to his family.
I met him at the consultation on exit fees in retirement leasehold property held by Stephen Lewis of the Law Commissioners at Age Concern not too long ago. Nigel didn’t hesitate to let him know immediately that leaseholders were NOT homeowners and was rather emphatic about it.
He was a brave man, treated pretty shabbily by the state — fired and prosecuted for whistleblowing in the interests of both justice and the taxpayer. Hardly a surprise then that he should be supportive of leasehold reform. He had first hand experience of grotesque fraud, sadly both at home and at work. Not many of us have to deal with criminal activity and injustice to that extent.
He certainly had at his fingertips details of how leasehold had been abolished and reformed in other countries. And a very thick file on fraudulent conduct by dishonest landlords and developers.
I bought a leasehold flat not knowing anything at all of the squalid machinations of the Tchenguiz empire and the deregulated, permissive environment in which it operates. The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act was passed later. Later still I realized that someone had taken up the cudgels on behalf of leaseholders and that I owed them a debt as result.
Without that legislation we would not have been able to acquire the right to manage our development and the freeholder, Mr Vincent Tchenguiz, might still be enriching himself with the endlessly inventive conflict of interest schemes and scams which became so notorious that our former managing agent (Peverel) had to rebrand itself (FirstPort). If I’d known Nigel had contributed to the passage of that legislation I’d have shaken his hand and thanked him kindly.
I would also like to send my condolences to Nigels family.
Although I never met him I did read several of his newsletters and certainly agreed with him that leasehold should be abolished. Like Paul I too appreciate the fact that our flats have been able to acquire the right to manage.
This is sad news and comes as quite a shock . My condolences to Nigel’s family.
Who can replace him and continue the Campaign to Abolish Residential Leaseholds ?
I think he must have given many hours of his free time to CARL and it will be difficult for the next chair of Carl to match his dedication .but I hope someone will. volunteer.
What a good man. Hopefully his work will be continued by LKP.
Met him a few times and a real gentleman, so very sad to see this news. RIP.
I was in contact with Nigel when we first founded Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and was very interested in the direction his work regarding leasehold/commonhold was going in. I am very sorry to hear that he has died at far too young an age.
He was a great example of a totally dedicated and determined campaigner.
Nigel, What you started, We will finish. You have made a fantastic contribution to righting the injustices faced by innocent and oppressed leaseholders .
We owe it to your memory to continue the work you started (however hard the path to justice maybe?)
You and your magnificent efforts and utter dedication will never be forgotten.
May you rest in eternal peace. You will be missed.
My sympathies to the family and friends of a great man.
I agree with all the tributes to Nigel, a man I never met. There are those in life who help others not for the glory but because they dislike unfairness as Leasehold had become.
Though only a beginner I will try to help until Leasehold is abolished.
Thank you to LKP also for marking the death of Nigel Wilkins. I knew him from many years ago when we sat at a table together in Joan South’s front room in Phillimore Gardens.
People who volunteer their time like Nigel for our good are too often buried with their cause.
Nigel’s letters and and newsletters live on in the appreciation of those he fought for and in the fight against high-level corruption that he spent his time publicising.