In an extraordinary admission, Peverel / FirstPort says it has paid over thousands of pounds of contingency funds at Hillside Court, Ormskirk, to the landlord “by mistake”.
Residents estimate that up to £40,000 is at issue, involving the one per cent contingency fund fess payable on sale of the properties.
Instead of being paid into the contingency fund, the money was paid to the landlord, ultimately the Tchenguiz Family Trust based in the British Virgin Islands.
It prompts the obvious question: at how many other retirement sites have contingency fund payments wrongly been made to the landlord?
The residents have been seeking an explanation from Peverel / FirstPort and Estates and Management, which manages the Tchenguiz freehold portfolio, since at least June last year.
The Campaign against Retirement Leasehold Exploitation involved three MPs in taking the issue up – Rosie Cooper, and LKP patrons Jim Fitzpatrick and Sir Peter Bottomley.
In addition, we have now involved the Law Commissioner Stephen Lewis, who is heading the Law Commission’s investigation into exits fees at retirement sites.
We have asked Peverel for a full explanation of a matter that is now of considerable public interest.
The response to LKP on raising this issue came first from Louise Smith, of the Consensus Business Group (ie the Tchenguiz organisation).
She said yesterday that the payments to the landlord had been made by Peverel / FirstPort “in error”, and assumed LKP had already been contacted by Peverel / FirstPort.
In fact, Peverel / FirstPort responded this morning
A spokesman said:
“The leases at Hillside Court provide for a transfer fee to be paid to the landlord by the flat owner upon sale or letting.
“There is also a separate obligation elsewhere in the lease for the landlord to pay this transfer fee into the development’s reserve fund.
“Prior to October 2013, when Peverel Retirement (now FirstPort) carried out the property transfer administration for Hillside Court, we mistakenly paid these transfer fees to the landlord.
“I am pleased to say that we have now traced these payments and the total amount will be credited to the reserve fund for Hillside Court.
“We will be writing to each resident at Hillside Court to apologise for our mistake and the time it has taken to trace and reconcile the payments.
“We will, of course, provide full details of the payment history to each of the residents for their information.”
This is not an adequate response to such a serious matter.
LKP has asked for a full explanation.
The issue of whether other sites have also wrongly had their contingency funds paid to the landlord now needs to be addressed.