Sir Peter Bottomley, Father of the House and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold and commonhold reform, has asked judge Sir Keith Lindblom (above), the court of appeal judge who heads the tribunal service, his views on controversial property manager Richard Davidoff continuing as an officer of the court.
Property Tribunal judge Siobhan McGrath has informed LKP that Mr Davidoff has two further roles as a court-appointed property manager – “as far as I can ascertain” – but appears powerless to do anything about them.
In August the property tribunal ruled against Mr Davidoff at a south London site where he was the court-appointed agent.
The tribunal found that Richard Davidoff had “breached his fiduciary duties”, was not a “satisfactory witness”, was arrogant and dismissive of the leaseholders and had proposed to entrust the major works to a company whose sole director was the wife of the head of block management at ABC Estates.
Projected major works estimated at the time of his appointment at £10,000 were revised upwards to nearly £100,000.
In reply to leaseholders who raised the similar complaints to LKP, Judge McGrath replied that she “cannot comment on Tribunal determinations or the reasoning given for any decision. Nor do I have power to conduct an inquiry into the conduct of Mr Davidoff in respect of any other property where he been appointed as a manager.”
As a result, Sir Peter has asked Sir Keith for his views on the matter.
“I have raised a number of questions in the House of Commons on this matter and I should be grateful if you might kindly confirm what measures the tribunal is taking to allow inquiries into the conduct and where necessary the removal of unscrupulous/incompetent tribunal appointed officers abusing their position and indeed undermining the integrity of the tribunal.”
“I should be grateful if you might kindly confirm what measures the tribunal is taking to allow inquiries into the conduct and where necessary the removal of unscrupulous/incompetent tribunal appointed officers abusing their position and indeed undermining the integrity of the tribunal.”
Judge McGrath is due to publish a “Practice Statement” in respect of applications under section 24 for the appointment of managers to give guidance on the tribunal’s expectation of proposed managers and the standards required of tribunal appointed managers.
Further controversies surfaced in October, where leaseholders at a site in Battersea had to launch a right to manage application to obtain control of the site where there was in fact a residents’ management company. However, Mr Davidoff was the sole director.
In November the trade body the Association of Residential Managing Agents expelled Mr Davidoff’s company ABC Estates from the membership.
Sir Peter has called upon the government on November 19 in an Early Day Motion “to listen to the former employees of Mr Davidoff raising whistleblowing details of his business practices”.
Mr Davidoff and ABC Estates are embroiled in the high court in a libel action against two former employees who wrote disobliging Google reviews of the businesses and practices.
A ruling is expected shortly on whether this action may go ahead.