UPDATE: 5 DECEMBER 2022 See final paragraph regarding the property tribunal’s publication of the decision
Property manager Richard Davidoff, of ABC Estates, has been dropped as a section 24 court appointed manager because a previous, highly critical tribunal decision also resulted in expulsion from assorted trade bodies.
These included the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) and the Institute of Residential Property Managers (which have both merged to form The Property Institute), and Propertymark. The expulsions were reported on LKP here
The expulsions were prompted by Mr Davidoff’s removal on 12 August 2021 as the court appointed manager at 112 Blackheath Road after it was found that he had failed in his fiduciary duties, was not a “satisfactory witness”, was arrogant and dismissive of the leaseholders and had proposed to entrust major works to a company whose sole director was the wife of the head of block management at his company ABC Estates.
Earlier this month he lost a second court appointed role at a five-storey Victorian conversion at 178 Holland Road, in west London, to which he had only been appointed in February 2021.
The tribunal pondered the ruling at 112 Blackheath Road, but said of the subsequent expulsions from the trade bodies that “this issue alone is sufficient for the Tribunal to decide that he should no longer be its appointee to manage the subject property”.
A leaseholder at 78 Holland Road successfully sought the removal of Mr Davidoff and his replacement as a section 24 appointment with Paul Cleaver, of Urang, which is in fact an LKP accredited managing agent.
The tribunal was not persuaded by her assorted allegations against Mr Davidoff and other grievances – outlined in over 1,000 pages, in spite of the tribunal’s pleas for brevity – which were “frequently extreme, bandying about terms like “fraud”, “extortion”, “defamation” and “slander” without the material to support such serious allegations”.
But the tribunal did dwell at length over the issues raised against Mr Davidoff in the ruling of 112 Blackheath Road, where his actions had “led to inflated and wholly unreasonable sums being demanded from the service charge payers”.
Mr Davidoff had proposed “a package of works which was quite different from that contemplated in the management order, with the budget increasing from the £26,000 he had originally proposed to the tribunal to £106,574”.
LKP reported the 112 Blackheath Road case at the time here:
Mr Davidoff, however, offered a different explanation for the critical ruling over his management of 112 Blackheath Road.
The tribunal paraphrased his arguments saying that Mr Davidoff “stated that his problems started when some disgruntled former employees put false negative reviews about him and his company online … He has sued them for defamation and achieved 6-figure settlements and apologies from some of them, the rest still being ongoing. He provided no evidence of either the reviews or the court cases.”
LKP reported the following:
Mr Davidoff “alleged that the chair of the Tribunal [in the 112 Blackheath Road case], Judge Latham, had read the defamatory online reviews and had taken against him. His evidence was that the Tribunal members treated him in a way he perceived as rude and aggressive”.
He said the tribunal decision last year had made “it sound like he had run off with £100,000”. He was affronted at the ruling’s “use of the verb “subvert” which he said made him sound like an arch-criminal”.
“The First Respondent [Mr Davidoff] said that he decided it was not worth appealing the Tribunal’s decision because it would cost more to pursue such an appeal than the direct cost of the decision which he put at around £5,000 …
“There is a number of serious problems with the First Respondent’s arguments,” the tribunal continued. “First Tier Tribunal decisions are not binding on later constitutions of the same Tribunal. However, the First Respondent [Mr Davidoff] wanted this Tribunal to go beyond that and expressly disagree with the previous decision. This is not possible …
“Furthermore, the First Respondent’s characterisation of the previous Tribunal’s decision is, at best, highly selective and skewed to his perspective and, at worst, just wrong.”
Curiously, a second leaseholder, representing the residents’ management company 178 Holland Road Management Limited as second respondent, opposed the removal of Mr Davidoff as managing, arguing that “he had already familiarised himself with the property and any change would incur further delay in resolving issues at the property”.
The tribunal then considered the qualifications of Mr Cleaver to take over the site.
“Mr Cleaver, the proposed replacement for the First Respondent, attended the hearing and the Tribunal were able to question him. He also provided a statement to which were attached the complaints procedure for his company, Urang Property Management Ltd, his management plan, evidence of his professional indemnity insurance, and details of his 16 previous Tribunal appointments or re-appointments.
“Urang is a member of ARMA and RICS. They are also registered with the FCA in order to be able to arrange insurance. Mr Cleaver appears to be familiar with the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code and now has around 21 years’ experience in finance, business administration and property management with Urang. He confirmed having visited the property and reviewed the leases.
“Mr Cleaver answered questions in an honest and straightforward manner. He appeared to understand the difficult nature of the property he was looking to manage. None of the parties objected to his becoming the manager on the First Respondent’s discharge.
“In the circumstances, the Tribunal is satisfied that it would be appropriate to replace the First Respondent with Mr Cleaver as the manager under the existing management order.”
The tribunal ruling concludes with this:
“It is understood that since the hearing but before this decision was issued, the First Respondent sought his costs from the other parties.
“The Tribunal does not understand the basis for his claim. He did not ask the Tribunal for any direction or order in relation to his costs during the hearing.
“If any party has an ongoing issue in relation to costs of the proceedings, it will have to be the subject of a separate application which will benefit from knowing this decision and the reasons for it as set out above.”
The full tribunal ruling can be read here The ruling has removed the applicant’s name; the property tribunal has at its discretion removed the ruling from public view although confirming that it is a public document and that “the decision hasn’t been amended”.