It was not only thousands of retirement leasehold owners who were tossed in the swell after the Tchenguiz were arrested in March 2011 and Peverel went into administration: a small-scale builder was as well.
Des Clark, a self-employed builder in Rochester, Kent, thought building a couple of freehold retirement bungalows on a site with access through an existing retirement development would be a sound business move back in 2008.
But it has proved to be a one-way slide into the red as Clark saw his retirement properties plummet in value, and then got caught up in the fallout after the Peverel property interests fragmented in March 2011.
Clark sold one bungalow just before the collapse for £190,000 in January 2011 – original price £229,000 – at the Flack Gardens in Hoo St Werburgh. But he cannot sell the second (above) without paying £20,000 to Estates and Management, part of the Tchenguiz Family Trust, for the access ransom strip. That’s after “a gesture of goodwill”. The first demand was £30,000.
Clark, 56, bought the site in 2008, and claims that both Keith Edgar, former head of Peverel Retirement, and David Edwards, former head of legal, agreed a price of £2,500 each for a 99-year lease to access the bungalows.
Clark objected to a suggested £100 a year service charge cost for this, as buyers would be contributing £1,600 a year in service charges at the site, the deal being that bungalows became part of the rest of the development. He also suggested the lease be for 125 years.
A draft agreement was prepared by David Edwards, company secretary and director of freehold owner Retirement Care BH Limited. But it was agreed that the leases would not be signed until the bungalows were sold.
The first was sold in January 2011 just before the Peverel meltdown and Clark paid the agreed £2,500 for the access lease.
The second bungalow continued to fall in value – as have all retirement properties – but this year a 79-year-old would-be buyer has come forward offering £165,000.
With the collapse of Peverel, Retirement Care BH Limited ended up in the hands of Estates and Management, part of the Tchenguiz Family Trust.
Both Edgar and Edwards have ceased to be directors and both have also left Peverel – Edwards making his way to the Anchor Trust.
Instead of paying £2,500 for the access strip, Estates and Management demanded £30,000.
It does not deny an agreement existed, but says it was never formally authorised and five years have lapsed since it was made. Following protests by Clark, E and M has revised the bill to £20,000, plus reasonable legal costs.
Very decently, it appears that David Edwards is giving the builder his full backing, confirming that their agreement existed. Whether this is sufficient is the point of law under discussion.
“I am only a small-scale, self-employed builder but I have never had problems like this before,” says Clark. “I never want to go near retirement leasehold ever again.”
The matter is being negotiated between his legal team and E & M.