Sajid Javid’s speech came with a lot of schmoozing but was a devastating critique of modern property management by someone who has at last understood these issues
You can respond to Mr Javid’s ‘Call for evidence’ of leasehold property management here:
Protecting consumers in the letting and managing agent market: call for evidence – GOV.UK
This call for evidence seeks views on the regulation of letting and managing agents and the approaches government could take to implement any such regulation.
By Sebastian O’Kelly
The speech by Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, this morning to the ARMA conference came prefaced with such a soothing dose of syrup that for a while I feared being revisited by my breakfast.
“I know you’re not the Rachman-esque ogres that some on the internet claim [Oh, dear. Is that us?]. I look around this room today and I see the good guys.”
It can be read in full here, although almost all is below.
ARMA members, the good guys? Well, there are indeed good guys in ARMA, and we are positive about the organisation.
But ALL good guys? Including, say, Y and Y Management, where every single retirement site it took over in the South West broke out into open rebellion and epic right to manage battles?
Or, indeed, our old friends Peverel / FirstPort? Are they unambiguously good guys, no longer owned by but still serving the Tchenguiz interests, ultimately based in the British Virgin islands? It is a company that systematically cheated pensioners in 65 retirement sites, according to a protracted, tokenistic, feeble Office of Fair Trading investigation where no one was punished but where there was a ruling – better repeat that, where there was a RULING – of collusive tendering to favour its subsidiary Cirrus.
Peverel cheated pensioners in £1.4 million tenders at 65 sites, says OFT – Better Retirement Housing
now ALL sites should exercise right to manage and be rid of them … ‘the system is rotten’ to have allowed Peverel / Cirrus to get off, says Bottomley UPDATE: Guardian reports OFT / Peverel / Cirrus scandal UPDATE: BBC reports Peverel / Cirrus price-fixing scandal The Peverel / Cirrus price-fixing scandal was finally confirmed by the Office of Fair Trading today, which found that retirement leaseholders had been cheated in tenders worth £1.4 million.
“You’re members of ARMA because you subscribe to their code of conduct,” said Mr Javid.
Er … actually, Minister, ARMA’s self-regulation is in disarray after former regulator and ex-Labour minister Sally Keeble resigned and announced that professional self-regulation had failed.
Along with a £160,000 hole in the accounts – a disgruntled member had up before the disciplinary process took legal action against the trade body: there was no court case but massive costs – has cured ARMA of any further enthusiasm for self-regulation.
The regulator role is terminated and complaints now head off to the anonymous, mimsy Property Ombudsman.
ARMA regulator Sally Keeble outlines five areas where statutory regulation is needed in leasehold
There are certainly “good guys” and honest professionals in ARMA – many also members of LKP, in fact. But the truth is that it is back to its core function as a trade body.
But after this wobbly beginning, Mr Javid slammed his foot on the accelerator and the speech surged forward.
“Sadly, though, you can’t have good guys without bad guys.
“And, there’s no avoiding the fact that too many people in your industry are simply not good enough …
“As we build the houses this country needs, we’re also seeing many new housing estates with shared public spaces that need taking care of.
“That has led to a growth in the demand for property management services.
“And as the sector has grown so has the file of horror stories.”
All too true, and mentioned in the Commons later by Lucy Allan, Conservative MP for Telford, who named the Lawley Village private estate for its egregious charges.
“Some rogue agents over-charge for their services, adding a huge personal take for themselves or passing contracts to friends and subsidiaries.
“I heard of one situation where an agent had charged a commission of more than 30% when arranging an insurance policy, 3 times the recommended limit.”
Actually, our old friend Vincent Tchenguiz worked on 43% and higher rake-offs are also routine.
“In another case, leaseholders were charged 10 times the market rate to have a new fire escape fitted – with the £30,000 contract being handed to the freeholder’s brother.
“One landlord was billed £500 by his agent for repairing a shower door.
“Others boost their income by cutting costs, charging for a 5-star service while providing a budget version.
“Repairs are skipped, jobs are botched, as little as possible is done …
“Then there are the agents who “can’t do enough” for their tenants.”
At this point, I feared we were back to the schmoozing, but … what’s this?
“In fact they deliberately do too much, over-managing the property in order to rack up as many charges as possible and take the largest possible commission.
“With up to a fifth of managing agents getting paid based on a fixed percentage of the fees they charge tenants, it’s not surprising that some choose this option.
“The impact on the public is enormous.
“Some industry experts claim that, every year, British households are overcharged by as much as £1.4 billion.
“That means that, since I started talking to you this morning, rogue agents have pocketed around £15,000 in unjustified service charges.
“By the time I leave the stage, that figure will have reached nearly £40,000.
“The figures are so large because property management is a massive industry.
“Around £3.5 billion of service charges are collected each year.
“Yet despite its size and importance, it is almost completely unregulated.
“Literally anyone can put on a suit, order some business cards, and call themselves a managing agent.”
Sir Peter Bottomley obliging named a trio of game-players later in the Commons.
“You don’t have to any qualifications or experience, or a criminal records check.
“You don’t even have to know what a managing agent does.
“That will come as a huge shock to many outside this room.
“People assume they’re paying their service charges to a skilled, experienced professional.
“In fact, they could be handing their hard-earned cash to the sort of self-regarding spiv who doesn’t even make it past the first challenge on The Apprentice.
“In a multi-billion pound industry that’s crucial to the safety and wellbeing of millions of people, that is simply not acceptable.
“Nor is it the only problem.
“If people decide they’re being over-charged or under-served, it can be almost impossible for them to do anything about it.
“And that’s because the system is stacked against them and in favour of rogue agents.”
Mr Javid then turned to right to manage.
“Right to Manage is a great idea.
“It can and does work well.
“But the process behind it is far too complicated and too easy for unscrupulous landlords to abuse.
“In one recent case, claiming their right to manage took a group of pensioners 3 attempts, 6 years, and a trip to the Court of Appeal.”
This is a reference to the retirement site Elim Court, where the manager was Y and Y Management, run by Joseph Gurvits for his business partner Israel Moskovitz. Both have been named in the Commons.
Elim Court: If you want right to manage, this is how NOT to go about it – Better Retirement Housing
Please follow and like us:Elim Court in Plymouth has escaped from its right to manage debacle by the skin of its teeth, having been led to near ruin by right to manage facilitators. After having had its right to manage application turned down in the lower tribunal (freeholder’s costs: £10,000) and then thrown out by …
“Leaseholders risk losing their homes if they fall behind on paying even a tiny amount of service charges.
“Freeholders on new-build estates increasingly have to pay service charges for the upkeep of common areas.
“But they have absolutely no say over who provides services and at what cost, and no way of taking over management themselves.
“This is supposed to be the age of the empowered consumer, of unprecedented choice.
“If you don’t like your gas supplier, your phone company, your bank, then you can quickly and easily switch to another provider.
“Parents have a say in where their children go to school, patients have a choice about which hospital they get treated at.
“But in the world of property management, we’re still living in the past.
“In an age when ordinary working people are expected to put up and shut up.
“The result is a market in which the people who pay for and receive services have absolutely no say over who provides them.
“A market that simply does not work for the people it is supposed to serve.
“That can’t be allowed to continue.
“And I won’t allow it to continue.”
At this point, this speech was getting very good indeed. It augers well for Mr Javid’s review of the leasehold houses and onerous ground rent scandals which has left 100,000 with unsellable homes.
“When our housing white paper was published, most of the attention and the headlines covered the vital task of building more homes.
“But it also talked about the need for urgent action to help people already on the property ladder or living in rented accommodation.
“I’ve already announced plans to regulate letting agents, including banning fees for tenants.
“I’ve also made clear that I want to see an end to unjustified use of leasehold in new-build houses.
“And today, I’m setting out plans for fixing the problems in property management.
“I’m publishing a call for evidence, a document that talks about the challenges facing the sector, suggests some possible solutions, and asks for the views of the people who know the market best, whether that’s people who work in it or the people who pay the service charges.
“Should leasehold tenants have a greater say over appointment of managing agents?”
Yes, of course they should. Hopefully this is simply a rhetorical question.
“How can we increase transparency in the system and give the people who pay service charges more access to accounts and decisions?
“What’s the best way to ensure fairness and openness around relations between freeholders and agents, and between agents and their subcontractors?
“How can we make it easier to challenge services charges or to change managing agent?
“And what about the current model of voluntary self-regulation?
“ARMA-Q has done a lot to raise standards, but has the system had its day?”
Er … ARMA-Q is a bit of a dead duck, after the regulator walked off in a huff – an issue ARMA tried to disguise as though the conference were some sort of Politburo congress from Soviet times.
“Many say we need an entirely independent regulator to oversee property management – is that the best way forward?
“This paper, which you’ll be able to read and respond to on our website, is the first step in creating a property management system that works for everybody.
“And that includes the property managers themselves.
“I say that because I’m a businessman at heart.
“I don’t like unnecessary red tape.
“I hate to see good companies and forward-thinking entrepreneurs struggling under the weight of burdensome regulation.
“I’m proud to be part of a government that has removed and continues to remove all manner of pointless, petty restrictions.
“But I also know that, sometimes, a completely unregulated market can turn into a kind of free-for-all wild west.
“And, as everyone knows, one thing the wild west doesn’t lack is cowboys.
Ministers to outlaw rogue freeholders
Millions of people who own leasehold property are to be protected against high service charges in a crackdown on the £3.5 billion management industry. Under proposals to be published today, property managers could be regulated and the owners of freeholds would lose the right to unilaterally appoint companies to manage properties, mostly blocks of flats, on their behalf.
“I’ve already talked about cowboy property managers are bad news for consumers.
“But, as ARMA has long recognised, they’re also bad news for hardworking, honest members of the profession like you.
“That’s because the current system effectively penalises the good guys.
“The ARMA members.
“The agents who sign up to standards, invest in their staff and provide the quality service that people deserve.
“You’re the responsible ones, but you’re not competing on a level playing field.
“You invest in training, the cowboys make it up as they go along.
“You put time and money into maintaining standards, some of your competitors cut corners in order to line their pockets.
“Your priority is delivering a quality service, theirs is making a quick buck.
“You can’t blame amateur or accidental landlords for picking the cheapest option when appointing an agent.
“Many don’t know any better.
“But a race to the bottom will always be won by agents who don’t care about standards and safety.
“That’s not fair on the people paying for services, and it’s not fair on you.
“It can also do untold damage to the sector’s reputation, making it easier for populist politicians to tar you all with the same brush.
“Appropriate regulation, properly designed, will force rogue agents to either raise their game or quit the business.”
“That’s good news for tenants and it’s good news for responsible, professional agents like yourselves.
“It’s popular, in some corners of politics, to point the finger at everyone involved in the housing market.
“To say that you’re all just in it for yourselves, “Sheriff Fatman” capitalists taking advantage of desperate people and so on.
“I don’t believe that for a minute.
“The private rented sector and justified use of leasehold deliver millions of homes for millions of hardworking people.
“And the people in this room today do a vital job of servicing and maintaining those homes and protecting the people who live in them.
“Thank you for that.
“As we build more homes we’re going to need more people like you to help take care of them.
“That’s why it has never been more important for all of us – government and industry – to work together to celebrate what works in your sector and to fix what doesn’t.
“I want you to join me as this government cleans up the property management industry, evicts the cowboys who harm consumers and give you a bad name, and delivers better value and better services for tenants, for leaseholders and for hardworking people right across the country.”
Well, it was a good speech and many congratulations to Mr Javid.
He showed awareness of the issues in the leasehold sector – stuff the likes of ARMA have been quiet about for years – he was ringing out the right noises.
Dealing with the property managers, and making right to manage easier and more effective are the easier bits of leasehold.
We will see soon what Sajid Javid intends to do about the leasehold houses and onerous ground rents scandal.
In that field, the smooth lobbying from the housebuilders and ground rent investors will be on a different level to anything encountered in the modestly remunerated profession of property management.
The clichés de jour coming from the housebuilders and investors is: beware “unintended consequences”.
Touch leasehold and you will cramp housebuilding and unbox a host of intractable legal problems.
Let’s hope Sajid Javid’s business sense lets him spot a self-interested play when he sees it. But the play will have been good.
I found the lease extension process under the 1993 act straightforward. However it was the lack of transparency that I found unreasonable. I was simply provided with a take it or leave it figure with no breakdown of the calculation used. Of the 12 units in my block I am the only person to extend under the act, the flat above has an onerous lease extension due to the fact that the cost of extending under the 1993 act was too expensive.. Most folk would find it very difficult to raise thousands of pounds to go down the statutory route and are duped into accepting informal terms, thus making their property unsaleable. What a mess.
There are FOUR variables in a lease extension calculation and I believe that provided the property falls within certain defined parameters the whole exercise could be done without recourse to valuers and solicitors thus saving the lessee £4000
The Capitalisation rate the deferment rate and relativity could be prescribed by statutory instrument
The value of the flat could be based on council tax banding per local authority and again prescribed every six months or so
Therefore armed with the variables the calculation is then input into a formula and a figure produced . Then an application is made to the land registry and the sum paid to them who in turn update the enteries they hold sending the funds on to the freeholder
The above would not apply to properties in say the 2 highest tax bands and neither where the lease has fallen below say 60 years
What it would achieve is save the lessee around £4000 in professional fees
I Liddle, It really does seem a disgraceful muddle. I’m glad my late parents’ leases are the ‘ultra-long’ 999-year flavour, but those with shorter leases deserve a great deal more help, and more definite criminalisation of the tricks that evidently have become accepted practice among so-called ‘lawyers’.
I had not realised quite how many tricks were possible, until coming back to the LKP website in recent weeks. I noted somewhere yesterday (Guardian website I think) that solicitors are keen to distance themselves from ‘conveyancers’ tied in with leasehold vendors. Hmmm – so professional bodies are beginning to see the writing on the wall.
Well done again LKP for helping to publicise these things, although I remain disappointed that in my case, where there was a clear-cut fraud in writing, the LKP has still not helped me in any way. Due to near-fatal illness, I was not able to follow up on the serious public-interest aspects myself:-
Officials who committed the carefully-planned fraud are still in office in key positions, controlling multi-million pound property transactions, ironically in a Council itself charged with enforcing Housing Regulations that a lot of you complain have been breached. And the lawyers who committed the fraud are themselves in charge of standards of behaviour within the Council. Earlier this year, a councillor who spoke out on another issue was disciplined for ‘bringing the Council into disrepute’, then did not stand for re-election. This is the way our democracy and justice are going: an unashamed conspiracy of silence at official levels.
Stephen dear chap,
There are not four variables in the 1993 formula.
1. ground rent yield rate
2. discount/deferment rate for the reversion value
3. “no Act” discount
4. schedule 10 rights allowance (discount)
5. freehold differential
6. value of the existing lease
7. value of the extended lease
Most of these are essentially ‘theological’ in nature, namely nobody can empirically test them. The Enlightenment has not reached leasehold.
To those who wish to follow the tortuous ‘nonsense’ behind a lease extension, visit my blog…
Parliament’s bias against leaseholders is revealed in Schedule 13 Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993…
s3(4) “hereby declares” (suggests somebody wanted this point to be crystal clear, given an Act of Parliament is pretty much all declarative?) that the assumptions do not “preclude the making of assumptions as to other matters where those assumptions are appropriate for determining the amount of the landlord’s interest.”
In other words, crack on and see what else you can squeeze out of the premium?
This clause is even repeated for good measure in 4(A)2.
Nobody should ever mistake lease extensions as reasonable, fair or scientific. Not the purpose, innit.
I do agree with Stephen that the whole process could be made more simple and scientific given the modern digital age and resources on line.
It is disgusting that valuers get to argue over the same case at the expense of the leaseholder and the freeholder neither has to make a ‘realistic’ counter offer or base it on the valuation he charges to the leaseholder.
As for tribunals valuing property on theological principles, what a farce?
Extra extra hear all about it!!!!!!
I refused to sign an Injunction from a solicitor acting on behalf of our Managing Agent which they had no right to demand. and Which was subject to my right of free speech and the provisions of the human rights act specifically dealing with claims for injunctions against speech .and communication. The Solicitor in question did not refer to this,although they were writing to a lay person….
I am now being sued for ‘ Harassment ‘ by our Managing Agent. Did that old trick of sending the correspondence to an address at which I do not live. I only saw it by chance- NO email to inform that it had been sent.
I am excepting service and will send a cover note to the Judge explaining why I am late in responding and provide evidence that this old ruse has been tried before by same agent but different lawyer. I will then collate all my evidence which I believe will be damning and stand in front of the Judge and give my defence. It will be TRUTH.
Thankfully I have the wherewithal to deal with this sort of intimidation EG I will not be cowed ,bullied or intimated by anyone least of all an Agent whose conduct I find utterly reprehensible. However, there are many who would not fight back because they would be intimidated.
This boys and girls is what we are fighting to ABOLISH.
The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP will be informed of this and he must ensure that all who ‘Name & Shame’ In the consultation can do so anonymously.
LETS FIGHT TO RID OURSELVES OF SPIVS IN RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY.
SILENCE IS A CRIME
Well done that man (woman) – Elizabeth’s speech to her troops at Tilbury comes to mind,
“I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm: to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”
Sorry Kim, I got carried away. Your managing agent is hardly the Spanish Armada even though you have the spirit of Elizabeth.
Am I right in believing this injunction relates to posts you have made on this site?
Some yes ,they have my Majestic utterings all printed off and included in their statement. They are also by my having the temerity to emailing my fellow shareholders regarding ” iLL judged practices’ by our agent.
I don’t know why the Agent thinks that the truthful unflattering description I have given on this sites relates to them if they have ‘ clean hands’ All I say to that is – If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then it is a duck.
what I find puzzling is that the “Statement ” of the Agent is full of stuff that I have clear evidence to disprove.- Bizzare.
I’d hoped that the Agent would have been concentrating on sending out the service charge Budget / Invoice demands for 2017. Not a dicky bird.
Anyhoo I shall have to leggit to County Court ( Strand) and hand deliver the service acceptance and cover letter explaining why my response is so tardy.
And yes David , I do have the heart and stomach of a King and thank goodness for that.
I believe that I have some dynamite evidence regarding what I believe could be a serious matter.
Meant ” Also Cross”
paticular, shou,d, tnese, Peveral, bears, figuritively, seperately, EG, what is was, shurley, JB Leech, excepting, EG, to emailing, this sites, Bizzare, Quel surpris.
Oh John I meant that I ” acknowledge service” Wot am I like”???
I do hope that you have signed and shared the petition. Join our CAMPAIGN TO ABOLISH LEASEHOLD and REGULATE ALL MANAGING AGENTS.
Kim, an injunction is a judicial order (I know that because I looked it up for confirmation). Judicial relates to a judge and/or court of law (I know that, too, because I looked it up). This injunction was served on you by solicitor of managing agent. It doesn’t make sense, if I have it right one goes to court to ask a judge to issue an injunction, and if granted the court would serve the injunction. Was it an injunction you refused to sign?
Dear John , have you signed the petition? I haven’t noticed any posts from you before and am assuming you are a new boy?
I am the self appointed chief Whip and am asking you to share the petition ( see facebook /.Twitter) with all your friends and any family you might have. I assume you are in favour of the ABOLITION OF LEASEHOLD & STRICT REGULATION OF MANAGING AGENTS?
Start spreading the word, there’s a good little fella!!
David, yes it was an Injunction that I refused to sign and gave a crystal clear reason for refusing to do so.
The Solicitor in question had also stated in the same letter that I was “Not to distribute the letter to anyone or anybody or any alien in the universe or beyond” – I paraphrase of course!
I wish I knew how could post the letter on LKP with details of solicitor redacted.
David , Correction ! I was asked “ to give my written undertaking never to question anything or anyone about our managing agent or to post anything about said agent on cyberspace Outer space “etc…
Also NOT to distribute the letter sent by solicitor to anyone, anywhere , at anytime whatsoever even if tortured. I of course immediately distributed to all people I thought relevant.
How dare these 2 bit solicitors try and intimidate leaseholders and lay down what is clearly NOT THE LAW!
Get out of town!!
Cont…. I refused to sign so am being sued for “Harassment” and potential ruination of Agents livelihood and reputation.
STOP SNIGGERING AT THE BACK!!
I do genuinely admire your sangfroid. So a judge has agreed to, and issued, an injunction forbidding certain actions on your part, you have refused to sign said injunction and are prepared to ignore the requirements therein.
Would that we all had the courage of our convictions. In my time I have stood up to authority – a psychologist (of the occupational psychologist variety) once said to me, “I can’t make up my mind whether you are brave, or plain stupid” – but even when I was callow and spirited,. I would not have dared to take things as far as you are doing now. I applaud you, I will not encourage you from the side lines, however. To do so would be despicable, it is your ass on the line, not mine.
David you misunderstand
1. Several months ago ( July) Agents SOLICITOR wrote to me via email asking that I give a written undertaking not to contact or refer to Agent In Any way. (,see previous post)
2.I was sent a gagging letter by SOLICITORVand asked to sign. It. I refused as I believed it breached my human rights re free speech and communication.and told the SOLICITOR so. Thus far our communication was via emai. ( I heard nothing more)
3.On Wednesday of this week ( Oct) I visited the property in which I own a flat to carry out some work. I found found correspondence from solicitor re a ‘CLAIM’ the agent was making against me for “HARASSMENT”. I was given no indication from the Solicitor / that iImportant documentation that would need attention had been delivered to the property at which it is known ( certainly by Agent) that I do not reside.
4. I called the Court to inform them what had occurred and was advised to complete the ” Acknowledgement of service” part 8 form and send a cover note explaining tardiness.. EG The Agents I believe deliberate decision not to notify me via email that this claim was being made and to which address the correspondence should be sent.
5. This Agent has played this ruse once before
A deed variation proposal letter was sent to my fellow shareholders in January 2016. I wasn’t notified until March 2016 and the email notifying me of the variation proposal was sent to an out of use email address.
As a result, what should have been a relatively simple matter turned into an expensive farce with thousands of pounds of leaseholders money being paid to a solicitor ( different one) for a “Tribunal Application’. I think about £5,000 including Agents “fees”(260 hr + vat I think) was spent on what should have cost peanuts.. I believe that this underhand practice is the modus operandi of Agent. The solicitor in question abandoned her ‘ill judged practices “when I In no uncertain terms I told her that I would tell the Judge that I believedthe application had been ‘” Unreasonably conducted”……… And how!!
Anyhoo. The Judge has set a date for a ‘Part hearing’ November End 2017 . Had I been given a chance to respond sooner I believe it probable that the Judge would have decreed Agents claim utter nonsense ,an attempt to stifle i free speech and thrown it out. I will of course attend hearing and refute the Agents fanciful. Unthruthful allegations and provide evidence where required. Feather
To be clear. NO INJUNCTION HAS BEEN ISSUED BY A JUDGE.
I still have my freedom of speech.
Agent has stated they are “Fearful of what I will do next” .
who do they think I am? A Mafia Don?
I shall leave the gangster tactics to the reprehensible rogues in Residential Property.
Ladies and gentlemen, this Agents conduct towards me would have cowed and broken some weaker individuals.
That is what unscrupulous Agents rely on.
Well I will fight for JUSTICE.
Okay Kim, got you, there is no court injunction against you. The solicitor (of the managing agent) has previously requested that you desist from actions that may harm their client’s reputation -. you had been asked to sign a prepared statement to this effect, and you refused to sign. So far so good, if you feel you have grounds to bad mouth the managing agent, and feel the need to do so – to achieve support (from interested/involved parties) for your court appearance – then, as far as I can see, you have no choice but to bad mouth the managing agent.
Claim of harassment appears, to this layman, to be a formal court case against you? Civil or criminal? It appears to be civil though I thought such cases were of a criminal nature and require CPS involvement. Whatever, I feared you were being too gung-ho (when I misunderstood the injunction business), now I think you are clear headed and balanced, and rightfully standing your ground.
I perhaps didn’t make myself clear Intially which is why you ‘Misunderstood ‘.
I believe perhaps that I am getting a ‘ Bit too close for comfort” and need to be ‘ Neutralised’…..
Lest we forget- The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP has indicated that he will be “Reducing Ground rents to Zero or peppercorn” and ” Introducing Regulation for Managing Agents”.
This ‘ Industry” is the Agents and its / co – directors bread and butter. What will they do with all the ground rents that have been acquired as far afield as Bradford?
Will they be worthless? This is why they are trying to gag me.
Let’s see what the Judge make of my robust defence.
Only Individuals who have proven themselves as honest decent and transparent will be permitted to work In Residential Property. HOORAH!!
Kim, this is the state of things, did you conspire, contrive, and create, this situation? I mean would you rather spend your three score years and ten in a more pleasing way, or do you have some sickness of mind which draws you to aggravation and confrontation? Why would anyone seek aggravation and confrontation unless it was unavoidable? Leasehold and the twats (all of them from freeholders to the professionals and managing agents) who live off leasehold are the problem. Who ultimately is responsible for the million of lives being scarred and burdened – and sometimes wrecked – by this repugnant practise? Government is responsible, they are the knowing enablers.
As a non lawyer nothing I can say will be of much practical comfort.
For all my campaigning zeal, if I faced a summons to attend court, my first act would be to see a solicitor (being unable to afford Counsel’s opinion).
As a mere layman leaseholder I find the situation regarding lack of a safe public space for leaseholders to comment on their day to day experiences both shocking and appalling in modern Britain.
As a general aspect of leasehold, the dilemma facing leaseholders is known in Parliament. Leaseholders are ‘captive’ to a two way binding contract. They are the paying ‘consumers’ for services from which they cannot opt out.
Freeholders and managing agents acting in their name are the other party to the binding contract, bound by many laws to act in certain ways and always reasonably. It is not a ‘take it or leave it’ transaction, even if leaseholders are rarely given control.
Unlike the leaseholders as paying consumers, managing agents and larger incorporated freeholders have the financial clout (not counting a commonly unfairly weighted contract) to oppress or suppress leaseholders from expressing negative views, not only when leaseholders try to exercise legal rights at law, but in silencing unwelcome publicity, as highlighted by Sir Peter Bottomley in the House of Commons on 18 October 2017 in respect of thre latest consultation on agents:
“There are so many crooks and dodgy people around that there may be threats of legal action, […] Ordinary people cannot face that; Members of Parliament can.” Col 853, Hansard, 18 October 2017 Volume 629.
As a legal layman I would hope a judge would separate out two distinct aspects of ‘fair comment’:-
1. Let’s say a leaseholder-run company enters into a contract with a managing agent to act in its name.
All the leaseholders as consumers are entitled to a reasonable standard of service.
Those leaseholders who are also members of the company have additonal company law rights. Through them and only them can the directors act.
If the members of the company have negative experiences, I would hope the law protects them in sharing these experiences within the company with other members, as otherwise there would be no practical opportunity to exercise the rights of company members to inform each other and agree on action and call meetings of their own company whether or not the dirtectors are in agreement. Only by this power can company members hold the directors to account and remove them.
A managing agent acts in the name of the landlord company, not independently. The MA is never in control of the landlord company. It may carry out admin functions as company secretary.
I would hope it could never come to pass that a contracted managing agent could use law to gag the registered members of its client company expressing unhappiness as to the agent’s behaviour, let alone the behaviour of the directors.
Where would that leave company law and the rights of company members?
I would hope that it could never come to pass that a company memebr could be gagged from communciating within the company.
2. Let’s say a leaseholder is not a member of the landlord company, whether or not one exists. The leaseholder is nevertheless still party to a two way binding contract and pays for the ‘privilege’.
As a paying consumer of services, when is it ever reasonable to gag the unhappy consumer? Accepting the need always for factual accuracy and avoiding imputing the motives of named individuals (only MPs in Parliament get a pass to do this) I would hope that freedom of speech to criticises services for which one has to pay is a basic human right still in England.
Aside from these teo aspects, I am well aware of the reality of leasehold and there are many examples on the Leasehold Questions Forum (Landlordzone) of the experiences leaseholders face with managing agents even in an RMC/RTMC context. Here are just a few:
a) Leaseholders never informed or consulted by their own company let alone permitted to vote on budgets etc. No calling notice meetings, no proxy voting etc.
b) Leaseholders denied discussion of the company articles or access to records of decisions. Kept in the dark.
c) Leaseholders standing for a directorship blocked by the managing agent (with no lawful authority of course) on spurious excuses such as “the articles are defective”. It is not for the agent to intrude like this.
d) Leaseholders voting at a company meeting only to find the managing agent acting as ‘chair’ uses claimed proxies to overrule the majority vote.
English leasehold is an utter scandal in my opinion, and Parliament knows well enough that it is a scandal. Why still here?
Study the lists of MPs who are landlords.
I have not followed all your comments, so I do not know who you may have identified by name or what you said about named persons.
I would nevertheless hope that if you had grounds for concern and expressed them for emotional support and advice, the law would uphold your right to do this.
If not, the government MUST act to redress a one sided absurdity where an industry can publicly congratulate itself with awards because its captive paying consumers must remain in fearful silence.
But I am no lawyer.
It looks like your agent is reading this website? I would hope the judge also spends a good few hours here reading the awful context of English leasehold for its paying consumers.
I would hope to have confidence in justice.
I did consider consulting a lawyer but believe that I am perfectly able to represent myself at county Court regarding this ridiculous harassment claim. Evidence is king / Queen and I believe that I can produce it to refute the ridiculous claims made.
I also believe that I have crystal clear evidence regarding hmmmm how shall I put this ? Fraud.
I had to throw some cash at s lawyer relating to the ‘ Major Works’ scam That I believe the agent was trying to pull- even the surveyor engaged by the agent took Frit and admitted that his figures were ‘Inflated’by at least 50%.still waiting for a court date and the ‘works’ are due in several months.
I am dealing with a bunch of scumbags who are clearly used to beleaguered Leaseholders taking a beating. I shall need a good scrub when this is over. If nothing else I shall campaign for the rest of my days to rid ourselves of this malignancy in Residential Leasehold.
You are correct in thinking that I don’t go looking for a ruckus despite being half Irish!! As Michael Jackson sang- “I’m a lover not a fighter”. However it is not in my DNA to allow myself to be bullied intimidated or downright fleeced.
For wickedness and wrong doing to flourish, good men and women do NOTHING.
To misquote Nietzsche- “That which does not kill you makes you stronger”.
We must stand together and fight this Tyranny that is “LEASEHOLD” and “UNREGULATED DISHONEST MANGING AGENTS”
Enough is Enough.