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”.
Well, it doesn’t surprise me. And it reinforces the need for Regulation of Property Agents. If LKP supports that notion, perhaps it could encourage members and readers to sign the petition on the subject, which can be found here > https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/617995 (even if it was started by “bottom feeder” Bernie Wales.
Dear Mr. Wales,
I have read and signed the above petition, many thanks for the heads up on that.
Has anyone information about the “Canning Town residents living in emergency housing after a water leak – in Hallsville Quarter” It was reported on 28th October that “Hundreds of east Londoners are paying for their own emergency housing after being evacuated from their flats”
It appears that the Managing Agent is “Firstport” who “has told residents to pay for their own hotel rooms for more than a week, saying they will be reimbursed by insurers”
Some Residents are ” unhappy at the cost and lack of communication”
I suggest Residents read their Lease, and if required seek Legal advice,
Extract of a news report from BBC News – Bath, by Emma Elgee and Scott Ellis
“People living in one of Bath’s most iconic buildings say they are horrified after being asked to pay £ 10,000 each for repairs to historic vaults in front of their homes”
“The steel bars in The Empires vaults are severely corroded and beyond economic repair, a report has found. Residents claim they were not aware the vaults were their responsibility.
“The dispute with the former management company, Firstport, will be heard at a tribunal in November”
This News article continues, and is posted online
MR STEPHEN BURNS
I suggest that “Hallsville Quarter” residents request an up-to-date copy of their building insurance from their Freeholder or Managing Agent, and examine it closely?
Look out for what is and is not covered in your insurance policy, If the policy does not include goods and services that are being employed to put matters right at your home, then the Leaseholders may well find themselves having to pay that expense out of your own pocket.
There are numerous recent examples of Leaseholders being under insured when things suddenly and unexpectedly go wrong, through no fault of their own. In almost every case I am aware of the Freeholder and Managing Agent pay nothing towards rectification costs, the Burden is nearly always shouldered by the unwitting Leaseholder at considerable personal expense, allegedly.
My advice is always take Legal advice from a qualified Professional, it may prove money well spent in the long term
There have been too many cases where it takes too long for buildings insurance to protect leaseholders when they have to be decanted. We had another example today where the Railpen owned site in Ipswich had some of their residents decanted. Fortunately the local council found temporary accommodation – but not the best. The problem is not necessarily under insurance but the speed which all agents move. You may remember we highlighted the issues faced by Citiscape some years ago. However it is worth checking your insurance and asking the agent what would happen if you could not stay in your home as some insurance policies are not as comprehensive as others.
I totally agree.
The Freeholders should, in my humble opinion, be cash rich! They get a “vast amounts of cash each Year in terms of Ground Rent which is pretty much money for old rope” So what do they do with it? Answer? “They Trouser It”
The “Freeholder” then employs an acceptable “Managing Agent” in some cases “themselves” to look after a property they are the “Freeholders” of.
So, when things go horribly wrong, they can cast blame at anyone apart from themselves, and say, “It has nothing to do with me” and blame in this case the insurer.
Mr. Liam Spenders article on “insurance” is worth several long reads to fully grasp and understand this “Racket” allegedly
It is a racket purely designed to protect the Freeholder and their appointed Managing Agent from any Financial or any other accountability, allegedly.
The outcome of this and other similar disasters will speak volumes! in terms of Justice for Leaseholders.
LKP please continue the good fight and publish wrongdoing wherever it may occur, not forgetting sloppy managing agents and the like.
On a personal note, I have always found it useful to pay my home insurance up front and in full, that way it can avoid any possible future misunderstandings.