September 22, 2019

‘Don’t make the pensioners of Regent Court take you to court AGAIN, Mr Moskovitz,’ urges Bottomley

Regent Court in Plymouth, where residents paid £140,000 for a new roof earlier this year

Regent Court in Plymouth, where residents paid £140,000 for a new roof earlier this year

The pensioners of Regent Court, in Plymouth, face the prospect of another encounter in court with their freeholder Israel Moskovitz after being presented with a £140,000 bill to pay for a new roof.

The roof was damaged by storms in April 2012, but insurers AXA claim the condition of the roof would have voided the policy.

In the event, Moskovitz withdrew the claim. The residents had to pay £140,000 last January for a new roof.

The affairs of Regent Court come to the attention of the Court of Appeal next month owing to a three-year war of attrition between Moskovitz and residents determined to exercise their right to manage.

Regent Court won its right to manage at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal in February 2012, but Moskovitz appealed against the ruling to the Upper Tribunal.

This appeal was heard in April this year – a scandalous 14 months after the LVT decision – and failed, with Moskovitz represented by barrister Justin Bates.

After the president of the Upper Tribunal Sir Keith Lindblom dismissed further appeal, the issue was taken up in the Court of Appeal.

Leave of appeal has been asked for and will be considered next month.

Meanwhile, the residents of Regent Court have not been able to exercise their right to manage. The site is still managed by Moskovitz’s business associate Joseph Gurvits, of Y and Y Management.

Sir Peter Bottomley’s letter to Israel Moskovitz (October 29, 11.52):

 Dear Mr Moskovitz,

 Re Roof Damage at Regent Court not paid for by insurance

 Can I express my grave disappointment that you seem to have chosen to make the Regent Court pensioners take you and your firm to court once again.

 In the case it is a matter relating to roof damage dating back to 18th April 2012. This damage was not paid for by insurance and which has now had to be funded from the leaseholders’ pockets. I am unclear why after so long you now advise that this is a matter “best bought in front of a judge” without setting out any reason for this sudden view.

 Since 2012 your firm has continued to assert to both the pensioners and myself – notably in your report sent to me on the 3rd June 2013 – that no money had been paid from insurance for the roof damage because the insurance company had “declined the claim”

 We have tried to work with you since the early part of this year and set out two clear options to help you to resolve this matter without confrontation.

 We have advised that you could either take the matter to the financial ombudsman to review the non-payment from the insurance company, if you felt that their position was wrong.

 Or, you could take independent arbitration to determine what if any liability you may have compensating the leaseholders for the replacement of the roof given its age.

 As you are aware, AXA (the insurance company concerned) has now set out a position directly opposed to the statements that you have provided. They state ” There were clear grounds to void the policy once the Surveyors report came to light, however in order to continue to provide cover for the building and Leaseholders, an agreement was reached, through the independent broker, Reich, that AXA would not enforce their right in return for the claim being withdrawn”

 It is also stated by the insurance company that you chose to withdraw the insurance claim as long ago as September 2012. I therefore remain unclear why you have continued to state up to our meeting in September 2013 that it was the insurance company who “declined the claim”.

 As the result of your apparent non-cooperation, what more can be done to assist you and my colleague Oliver Colvile, MP?

I can provide the relevant evidence from both yourself and the insurance company to assist the pensioners in any litigation that they may feel obliged to take.

 You have advised me in our meetings that it is not your way to seek to harm the pensioners who you must know have found the two years of litigation against your firm on the RTM issue extremely difficult.

 To face them with another action appears cruel.

I urge you to independent arbitration if your position is genuine.

Comments

  1. Oh the phrase”independant arbitration” is like nails on a blackboard and sadly undermines the credibility if not the intent, of the letter. A quick chat with the many lawyers and property people wandering the House would have said “mediation”. That said given the ruling in Daejan( re leaseholders professional costs being taken into account in the award of service charge recoverable costs), and the assessment of the insurer on condition, it looks like a simple-ish determination at Tribunal based on Continental v White needs to be explored. it might even be grounds for an FTT appointment of a manager if the roof is a guide to the general conditionand perfomance of obligations.

    • In this instance arbitration is the correct word for various reasons which you will not be aware of. The issues of Deajan may apply but there seems precious little evidence the Tribunal has started to us this part of the decision yet. On Continental v White there is relevance but who know if this will turn out to be a Tribunal or a County Court matter. On appointment of the manager this falls away if the RTM is granted.

  2. michael hollands says

    It is sad to see these abuses still continuing and the Pensioners still suffering.
    To speed up the reforms to Leasehold, or to encourage fairer treatment by the offending companies,
    would it be possible for the residents to form a national body to represent themselves.
    There must be around 2000 Retirement Complexes, with most of them having a Residents Committee.
    If one active and knowledgable member of each committee was elected to to represent them nationally they could become a formidable force for change.
    They could produce their own Newsletter, delivered to every door to keep everyone informed of abuses, publisize unfair practices and they could hold an Annual Conference at which guest speakers from organisations like Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, ARHM, Gov Dept etc,etc could make speeches and be questioned by the delegates.
    As a large pressure group they would pack some punch.
    Is there any way Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation can contact all the Residents Committees to see if they are interested.
    At present with the stirling efforts of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, their supporters and a few helpful MP`s progress is being made, but it is slow. Only a small percentage of residents use computers so knowledge of this is not widespread.
    Many residents will miss out on major improvements in their lifetime
    Something like a National Campaigning body may speed this up.
    The first item on their ajenda could be the abolishment of Exit Fees which just about everyone agrees with but does nothing about it. Surely 2000 delegates representing around 200,000 could give this a push.
    It would be interesting to know if this idea would be welcomed by Residents. It would certainly help to get them involved and maybe wake up some of the more apathetic.
    The Freeholders and Management Companies have their trade organizations to protect their interests, so the residents should have the same. At present the official bodies that are available to Residents are only involved in mediation and are weak.
    Is this a practical or good idea.

  3. Trevor Bradley says

    Hello, I am not aware of the details on this one therefore I apologise for having to ask this question.
    quote from post “The roof was damaged by storms in April 2012, but insurers AXA claim the condition of the roof would have voided the policy” unquote.
    Can anyone advise why the claim was originally refused? I ask as, a member of a management team of freeholders, I want to ensure we don’t get into a similar situation with our own roof which is regularly checked but in any event is now 27 years old

    • thats somehting that you need to discuss with your panel of insurers as to the scope of cover when a building ages, as there is difference between the passage of time and disrepair.

      • Trevor Bradley says

        Hi AM, not sure if your response was to me. I am aware of what you are saying and the points you are making but I was really asking the question “Can anyone advise why the claim was originally refused?” I know in an earlier article about this case on Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation site AXA did at one time offer 50% towards the claim. Many thanks to anyone who can help

        • I was responding to

          I want to ensure we don’t get into a similar situation with our own roof which is regularly checked but in any event is now 27 years old

          If you are charged with looking after a building it is something that you discuss with insurers. If a roof is old it is in most cases covered however if there is disrepair which allowed it to be storm damaged, then a claim might be rejected or a pay out reduced. I dont know the facts of this case but if roof nails were rusted hip irons missing or hip or apex/ridge pointing missing or loose that would be disrepair, as it would make it easier for wind to damage the roof.

          • Trevor Bradley says

            AM, thank you for the info. Yes, I take it for granted that all MAs are responsible for ensuring items such as roofs are inspected and looked after as recommended by a qualified independent company. We should be on the right track as our roof is inspected and attended to as required. Only last year were gulleys all cleaned out and apex/ridge tiles pointed and refitted as required. We pride our selves on taking preventative action throughout at all times

          • AM
            Pitched Roofs with either a slate or tile have much longer life than any flat roof.
            Flat Roof design has changed recently but is only as good as its design.
            I replaced a very large flat roof in Coventry with an expensive covering after an Environmental Assessment.
            This included insulating the roof before covering and running to falls which previously there were none.
            The benefit to the covering was that it could be simple to repair if holed.

        • Michael Epstein says

          Trevor Bradley,
          To me the issue is not why AXA declined the claim (even after apparently offering to meet 50% of the cost). Much more serious is why AXA wanted to void the contract?
          It would be very helpful to residents at Regents Court to find the answer to this.

  4. Michael Epstein says

    Trevor Bradley,
    I think you may have jumped to the same initial conclusion that i came to over this matter.
    That is, it appeared that due to age/poor maintenance AXA declined the claim.
    But the statement issued actually goes further. I quote:
    “However, in order to continue to provide cover for the building and leaseholders an agreement was reached through the independent brokers, Reich that AXA would not enforce their right in exchange for the claim being dropped”
    Sometimes an insurance company will decline a claim. That is quite normal. In this case, it is not just the claim being denied, AXA believe they have uncovered matters so serious to warrant the voiding (or cancellation) of the entire policy. Clearly, in the interests of blameless leaseholders AXA (they deserve credit for this) have agreed to continue cover if the claim was voluntarily withdrawn.
    There is much more to this story that at first appears.

  5. Are flats in Regent Court , Plymouth on 99 years lease from 1989 and now with 75 years left ?

    http://www.housingcare.org/downloads/facilities/generated-brochures/16163-regent-court-plymouth-england.pdf

    I would recommend the leaseholders get together to buy the freehold title or they must individually extend their leases to protect their investment in their property.

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