May 29, 2024

John Fenwick and Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation to address free leaseholders’ talk at Worthing on July 25

John Fenwick, who headed the residents’ action at Oakland Court

John Fenwick, who won the £137,000 LVT action at Oakland Court in Worthing, is to address a free conference for leaseholders in the town on July 25.

He is to be joined by Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation chairman Sebastian O’Kelly, who is also director of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.

Fenwick, 65, will discuss how he managed to mobilise the other residents and fight this action against his landlord, the Oakland Pension Fund, which concerned the notional rent paid for the house-manager’s flat going back to 1986. Full report here

“It is a fantastic victory,” said Fenwick, a former law firm employee. “Eight of our members are in their 90s, 13 in their eighties, 12 in their seventies and six in their sixties.”

Three times the landlord’s legal team appealed against the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal’s decision even to hear the case, a procedure impossible in civil courts.

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, condemned the delaying tactics to the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership as amounting to “legal torture”, referring to “the series of actions and expensive stratagems faced by elderly frail constituents without the financial resources to play unending tribunal games with a relentless money grabbing opponent”. Full report here

Sebastian O’Kelly says: “The Oakland Court case was a game-changer: it shows what people can achieve if they co-operate and fight back.

“It was marvellous that this result was followed by the £11,500 victory at Strand Court, in Rye, where Eric Matthews, aged 94, and Archie White, 87, made a stand. Full report here

“These results are far preferable to mediation, which are what landlords and their agents prefer.

“Mediation has at its heart this complicit deal: that you have found out that a company has been cheating you, but it will stop if you keep quiet about it. It helps no one else.

“But LVT actions must be properly prepared. It is thoroughly depressing that Kingsmere, in Brighton, has been hit with a £30,000 legal bill after a ‘right to manage’ failed.” Full report here

The evening event, called “Everything you wanted to know about owning your flat but were afraid to ask!” is being organised by the publication News on the Block.

Bob Smytherman, of the Federation of Private Residents Associations will be chairing the event.

“Regulation of leasehold relies heavily on the vested interests of trade associations who put the interests of their members before that of flat owners that they are supposed to serve,” says Smytherman.

“Equally there are some property managers who see little or no value in being a member of a trade association, choosing instead to concentrate on excellent customer service.”

Also in attendance will be ‘leasehold professionals’ – solicitors, managing agents – touting for business.

Wednesday 25 July 2012, at 6.15pm – 8pm, The Chatsworth Hotel, Steyne, Worthing. The event is free but you can book a place by contacting