Twelve months ago the leaseholders in Citiscape Croydon were in a very dark place. They were being taken to the Tribunal by FirstPort to prove that they should be liable for cladding costs, which were estimated at over £2 million – over £20,000 per flat.
The leaseholders had been given poor advice by LEASE on how to defend their position. They had no formally recognised residents group and the residents group would hold its first ever residents meeting just days before they were due at their Tribunal hearing.
Despite the government’s repeated use of the term “building owner” this was never a case where the freeholder would pay, as the site has a “tripartite” lease which means: FirstPort were responsible for maintaining the building but did not own it; the Tchenguiz Group owned the freehold but had no right to maintain the building; and the leaseholders are responsible for the costs which had to be paid to both FirstPort and the Tchenhuiz Group. The fact that the freeholder was not even named in the case, we hoped would help the officials understand that “building owner” is a very silly term.
The leaseholders’ darkest days came when the Tribunal decision was announced and as expected the leaseholders had lost. The lease made them liable to pay regardless of pious phrases from government Ministers about “building owners” and their “moral” duties.
The distress to the leaseholders was enormous. Unfortunately, some of those leaseholders even turned on their resident’s committee for taking on the fight.
Unbeknown to the leaseholders a white knight was sitting out of view watching and waiting.
Despite the building being beyond its warranty period, the original developer Barratt Homes decided to make an offer to pay for the cladding costs.
Work on the project has developed throughout 2018. On 7th January 2019, the leaseholders reach the end of their s20 consultation period for the external works redecorations, that will now go hand in hand with the cladding replacement.
So now the leaseholders at Citiscape go into 2019 with three presents.
- Present number 1: Barratt are paying for the cladding and the fire watch at a total cost of £2.5 million.
- Present number 2: FirstPort chief executive, Nigel Howell, tells us that the leaseholders will now save £250,000+ in scaffolding costs for other external redecoration works which were needed on the building and which can now be carried out while the cladding works are underway.
- Present number 3: Barratt will also pay the £24,000 price difference between the lowest bidder for the external re-decoration works and the cost proposed by the firm carrying out the cladding works, to ensure that the leaseholders get the best result.
LKP sends its congratulations to Barratt, FirstPort and the residents committee at Citiscape for helping to make 2019 a happy new year.
The festive spirit has not just landed at Citiscape. After months of saying no Ballymore wrote to the leaseholder’s at New Providence Wharf in Docklands on 21st December to explain:
“We will also be arranging a meeting in January, to present the details of the offer of an interest-free loan, in addition to a financial contribution from Ballymore. The terms and conditions, as well as the level of Ballymore’s contribution, will be confirmed at a general meeting on Thursday 10th January”
The Ballymore site was completed in 2004 so again well beyond the warranty period.
Let’s hope it’s more than just a few sites where cladding gets resolved and that we don’t have to spend another year with government hoping for Santa’s help.
All Party Parliamentary Group, April 26: Barratt praised at Citiscape; Galliard reviled at New Capital Quay; Taylor Wimpey scorned over ground rent review scheme
While any glimmer of hope for leaseholders is always welcome i remain sceptical of these christmas fairytales. Freeholders and their managing agents are simply NOT in the giveaways business. Peace of mind and protection can only come from long-overdue statutory legilslation. Leasehold as a whole has to go, put in the dustbin of History.
Totally agree. However even if apartment blocks are freehold they will have to have Managing agents and we have had successively bad ones in one way or another. They also need to be properly regulated. Maybe a petition on Government petitions website would help. I would support. It’s such a scandalous rip off.
Hear hear. Great news for some leaseholders. Just four million or so to go…?
Interesting times. Thanks mainly to LKP and NLC, the media quite rightly in recent years have helped highlight the utterly cynical form of feudal tenure that is leasehold.
Government ministers from the PM down have fallen over themselves to promise urgent reform.
To date I am not aware of a single reform enacted? Surely one? No?
Been pondering how all this negative noise has helped leaseholders in reality, the cladding issue aside.
Have leaseholders trapped in unsellable houses due to onerous ground rents been helped with reform? Or promised help?
Have leaseholders facing exploitative fees and charges been helped with reform? Promised maybe, helped no?
Have leaseholders facing exploitative costs for extensions etc been helped? Promised maybe, helped no?
What about the broken, costly and unfair tribunal system? Promised yes, helped no?
Remember that £1.5 billion ‘overcharging’ assertion by government? You might think urgent action was called for, given such an eye watering acceptance…not endless consultations covering virtually the same ground.
What HAS happened in concrete terms these past few years of reform fever?
Perhaps not surprisingly, the leasehold industry seems to have marshalled its own forces. Noises off suggest that, contrary to Sajid Javid’s (and PM’s?) early assurances, reforms are now far less certain, except for the certainty of being kicked further down the legislative ‘maybe maybe not’ road .
Remember the great leasehold reform bill categorically promised to appear before the summer of 2018?
A bit like flagging to an enemy that you are planning of a counter attack, has all this government’s hand-wringing merely made life far worse for leaseholders in the meantime?
Are leases any easier to live in, or to resell, now everyone categorically ignores the ownership of a land registry title and calls long leasehold ‘mere tenancies’? Are the rights of said leaseholders any better protected than before?
What is unchanged is that people have to sell their leasehold ‘mere tenancies’ when they have to sell. They do not have the luxury of waiting.
Now it is generally perceived that a long lease under 80 years is virtually worthless, or ground rent that even slightly sniff of ‘onerousness’ (who bothers to actually run the numbers?) must not be touched, how has this helped existing leaseholders on shorter leases that otherwise used to sell fairly okay?
I have one possible factual insight into a concrete change…
Take the same freeholder, same development, and identical flats. Pre the high profile government reform promises and all the negative publicity, a lessee needing a quick sale applied for an informal extension quote. These, naturally, are ALL poison.
Freeholder offered that lessee plus 90 years with a built-in new right to sublet, no alteration of existing ground rent until the end of the original term of 99 years, and then a slightly higher increment fixed for the whole of the extra 90 years. One other change: a slightly higher notices fee. Cost £10,200 plus £1,500 fees. Deal to be completed in two months.
Lessee bought the informal deal and promptly sold for less than they paid for their original short lease. A year later two un-extended flats of identical decor etc sold for more than the newly extended lease sold. Nobody tells you that might happen.
Last month, another lessee needed to sell and asked the same freeholder for an informal quote, admittedly with a few years less on their lease than the first example.
Offer this time? For £12,000 plus fees, restore the lease only back to 99 years, no sublet clause added, and ground rent immediately increased, thereby increasing every 20 years, though not by double.
The same freeholder seems to have ‘sharpened their claws’ regarding informal lease extensions post reforming zeal by government?
Could this be because government has given so much advance warning of what might happen to ground rents and lease extensions, even if in the end it does not happen or is watered down to little at all, that canny freeholders who previously offered ‘fair’ informal deals are seeking to protect their threatened income streams where they can?
You do not point to a serious problem and then do nothing at all about it?
Estate agents may now, it seems, be urging leaseholders ( as my neighbour) to extend their leases before trying to sell given all the negative publicity about shorter leases. This may be a local thing, of course.
Feels a bit like a doctor publicly diagnosing you have a seriously infectious STI but then doing nothing about it and postponing any treatment pending public consultation, while you are left to cope with the fallout?
Will 2019 produce ANY reform? Personally I doubt it. meanwhile I also have a lease that needs extending and I am not getting any younger and it is not getting any cheaper and, by the looks of it, even an average decent informal deal is now slim to no hope.
Good job by our politicians. Happy new year to them.
The campaign for abolition of leasehold must continue. There have been successes with cladding replacement for leaseholders on some sites. However there is still no immediate prospect of action to help all leaseholders from a government which could table legislation and fast track it. Justin Madders Leasehold reform bill is due for second reading on 25 January 2019. We need to get this bill through second reading then because it will be over a year since it’s first reading on 7 November 2017. Leasehold is a disgrace and many more will be trapped until it’s ovedue end.
That Santa visited Citiscape is probably down to a “Claus” in the lease!*
*Please note no Christmas Crackers were harmed in the publishing of this joke!
Michael I checked my lease but no chimneys suitable were mentioned. As we pay for Door Entry & Emergency Systems how was a non resident allowed into the development. Then I realised he must have been aware of Firstport Retirement being OPEN and Transparent.
I did receive a surprise as the Area Manager cancelled our meeting, so having checked the Expenses File and noted we now pay for a New Direct Line and Broadband Connection costing circa £500 a year.
Problem we have is the position of House/Development Manager no longer is required, as Firstport Intend to sell the Residential House Managers Flat (RHMF) for circa £100k to help pay off the debts of renting the RHMF back, they recently sold. for £31 Million Pounds.
Then FP have to spend circa £11 Million Pound to rent the RHMF back where they have sold them, but have been unable to remove the RHM?
Is it good business and does it make sense, as its late, and I am tired, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz