July 21, 2024

Dear ARMA and ARHM, why does FirstPort not put Appello contract out to tender?

LyonCloseA day after FirstPort Retirement was admonished by the Association of Residential Managing Agents a letter has just been sent off to the trade body’s CEO Nigel Glen questioning its tendering processes.

Alan and Ann Merryweather, of Lyon Close in Clacton on Sea in Essex, want to know why a quote for a emergency cord service is not going out to tender.

Instead, the £7,061.75 bill comes from Appello Careline – “the following contractor” – a company that FirstPort does not acknowledge that it owns.

The notice is “below the consultation level as required by the Landlord and Tenant Act. This notice is for information purposes only and is not a notice of consultation.”

Ominiously, the area manager says there is sufficient money in the contingency fund to pay for the work.

Perhaps it should not require ARMA to point out that if you are demanding money for your own subsidiary, you should let your captive audience know that this is the case from the start.

The issue is specifically addressed in Chapter 8 of the ARHM code.

8.1 The appointment of contractors to provide works or services should be transparent and managers should not profit from their appointment.

Where a corporate or other associated link exists between a company or firm tendering or engaged for works and the landlord or manager, this should be disclosed to leaseholders and service charge payers in advance of any contract or works being carried out.

8.10 If a manager provides a service through an associated company or associate and that service has not been competitively tendered, then the manager should allow any scheme to choose not to use that provider. 

The ARHM can be contacted: 020 7463 0660;  enquiries@arhm.org

“We understand that your company needs to make a profit, but you must also understand that we need a competitive service, after all it is our money you are spending!” the Merryweathers tell FirstPort Retirement.

The FirstPort Retirement letter is belowfirstport


  1. The cost per emergency unit is £227.77 including VAT, which is not excessive. I have seen much higher prices for this type of equipment. However, it is a compete joke that these are “specialised works”. There are several companies that supply such units (Tunstall, Incom, Chubb and Tyntech to name four) and all that needs to be done is plug them in and test the link to Careline. Firstport could have obtained alternative quotes, but clearly could not be bothered.

    A very unprofessional approach to this matter.

  2. Michael Epstein says

    Insider is quite correct. There are several firms that supply similar units/entryphones etc.
    You should avoid using Interphone, as it is part of the Tchenguiz group of companies.

  3. The problem is the Management Companies are appointed by the freeholder companies which are controlled by Tchenguiz. Family Trust based in BVI. There is no free choice for leaseholders.

    The only way is for leaseholders in retirement sites to set up RTM company to displace their current management company FirstPort .

    In yesterday’s EU referendum, the voters for LEAVE won.

    In every retirement block 51% of leaseholders can exercise their votes if they want to LEAVE FirstPort..

  4. All 99 years or 125 years leases are drafted by the freeholder ( M&S) or their solicitor and require the leaseholder to pay service charge contributions to the freeholder. These are contracts which can be enforced in the UK County Courts.and FTT.

    To take over administration of the service charge account from the freeholder, it requires a RTM company to be set up with legal power to take over the freeholders duties under the lease.

    • Michael Epstein says

      The leaseholder as you quite rightly state is required to pay a service charge to the freeholder or the freeholders appointed agent.
      Without a copy of a management contract, and particularly in light of not just the many changes of names, but the many different companies formed by the Peverel/Firstport how can a leaseholder tell if they are paying to an appointed agent?
      And if they cannot tell, but to comply with the lease send their service charge payments direct to the freeholder, what would be the position if the freeholder was a dormant company?

      • ME ,

        If any freehold company is receiving ground rent and declares itself a dormant company , it should be reported to HMRC, Cardiff Office .

        Write to HMRC to report suspected tax evasion.
        HMRC won’t reply to confirm they’ve received your letter.
        Reporting Tax Evasion
        CF14 5ZN
        United Kingdom

        • Michael Epstein says

          Provided they are not trading it is permissible for a dormant company to be a freeholder.
          Suppose, a managing agent sends a demand for ground rent/service charges on behalf of a freeholder that is a dormant company?
          What would be the position if the managing agent passed any payment onto another group company rather than the dormant company that the ground rent/service charge is in the name of?

          • ME,

            A company remains in service from date of first registration to the date of dissolution ( by voluntary liquidation or when made bankrupt by creditors ).

            All UK companies have to submit annual return to Companies House but if the company does not have any reportable transactions in any year, it submits an annual return as a dormant company for that year. It is on Companies House’s website which defines what is a dormant company. ( A RTM company is a dormant company because it does not receive any income but it is in service whilst an agent administers the service charges account. ).

            The HMRC accepts declaration of dormant company status and will waive its demand for corporation tax for the year when the company is dormant.

            If any freehold company was receiving ground rent last year and reporting to be a dormant company, it is clearly NOT declaring its income to HMRC.

            If you discover your freeholder company is receiving ground rent and claims to be dormant, you can report this to HMRC office at the Cardiff address posted above. You can report anonymously, if you wish.

  5. All 99 years or 125 years leases are usually drafted on terms favourable to the freeholder ( M&S) by their solicitor and require the leaseholder to pay annual service charge contributions to the freeholder. or appointed agent. These leases are contracts which can be enforced in the UK County Courts.and FTT.

    To take over administration of the service charge account from the freeholder, it requires a RTM company to be set up with legal power to take over the freeholder’s duties under the lease.

    A petition will not be recognised in the County Court .