July 21, 2024

Accountant tells MPs of murky world of leasehold service charge accounts

MoneylendersThe murky world of leasehold service charge accounts was laid bare to MPs and leading figures in leasehold at a Commons round-table organised by LKP earlier this month.

Accountant Nick Hunwick, of Simpson Wreford & Partners which acts for 500 legal entities involved in leasehold service charge accounts in the South East, gave his overview of state of leasehold accounting.

“Originally I was going to say that at the small end we do not encounter many problems,” he told the meeting, hosted by LKP patron MPs Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour, Poplar and Limehouse) and Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative, Worthing West) and chaired by Martin Boyd, of LKP.

“But only last week we were presented with a freeholder who owns the freehold of five unrelated blocks of flats who has formed his own managing agency and contrived to collect the service charges and huge reserves for major works and transferred half a million pounds to his other companies to prop up their balance sheets at his year end before transferring the money back again.”

Mr Hunwick titled his presentation (in full below) on leasehold service charge accounts A Fistful of Dollars, echoing the Spaghetti western theme of Law Commissioner Stephen Lewis, who earlier talked of the Good the Bad and the Ugly in leasehold practices.

Mr Hunwick emphasised that leasehold is of growing importance as more of the population live in flats and depicted a woeful picture of the state of leasehold service charge accounts and property management.

“It is in London that we are experiencing some very worrying situations. And there is no reason to suppose other major cities are different.

“We are presently acting for a number of very large blocks in London where no service charge accounts have been produced for at least four years, and where service charge demands total at least £2m per year and the freeholder is reluctant to provide any information whatsoever.

“In one instance the freeholders’ lawyers have had a field day with the meaning of “accounts, receipts and other documents”.
After much delay and obfuscation we attended the office of the managing agent (created by the landlord and not a member of ARMA).

“We had provided a checklist of those things we wished to see.

“We were presented with 10 lever arch files of invoices, a set of heavily redacted bank statements with entries blanked out and where the inference was that monies were being transferred out to other unauthorised bank accounts. And no SCAs at all.

“So cynical – and a farce.

“I might add that many of the costs were paid to companies owned by the freeholder – at dubious margins.

“So much for accounts, receipts and other documents”

Mr Hunwick prepared his first set of service charge accounts in 1971 and has seen a succession of efforts by the sector to improve its standards.

ARMA is only 20 years old, and the codes of practice “are only codes”.

The failure of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act to introduce sections 152 and 156 was a missed opportunity.

“Many [management companies] have moved with the times and the spirit of the absent legislation. I actually think the reputable managing agents have a lot to do with this.”

But there are still issues.

“In another instance a surveyor has been appointed under the housing act and we are the reporting accountants acting on his behalf. He has received so many aggressive letters from the freeholder’s lawyers asking for, amongst other things, confidentiality agreements to be signed that he has asked to withdraw.

“Another case involves the freeholder, who operates one half of a large building for commercial purposes is allegedly using residents service charges who occupy the other half, to fund the entire building.

“I am sure this is the tip of a large iceberg.

“The procedure for bringing the freeholder to account is a tortuous process involving A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS to yet more professionals via First Tier Tribunals. Why should residents have to go to such expensive lengths to find out what has happened to their money? It should not be.

“Better, more direct legislation is required, in plain English, with better definitions, with realistic penalties for non-compliance. And if I may steal another title from the next topic not to force residents to pay A FEW DOLLARS MORE every time they have a problem

“In recent weeks the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor have joined forces to clean up the City. I think this is another area to which the same applies. Perhaps we need Clint Eastwood and THE MAN WITH NO NAME.”

The full presentation is here:

Nick Hunwick Leasehold forum


  1. The Accounts from Peverel/Firstport are available if requested, in an Excel Format but you need to persevere as they will not readily produce them for you.
    They are seen as:

    1. Account History Summary
    2. Account History Breakdown
    3. Income & Expenditure for Year Ending
    4. Balance Sheet as @ Year Ending
    5. Trial Balance/Audit Trail

    We already receive:
    3. Income & Expenditure
    4. Balance Sheet

    The other 3 (1+2+5) are not sent as these provide more in-depth information of how your money is spent.

    The in-depth information allows checks to be made on all items, I have at least 6 items that were not for Ashbrook Court such as:

    Relief/Deputy Payments
    Asbestos Survey
    Bin Cleaning
    Lights for a Club
    Call out for TV repairs
    Loss of Signal

    The finding of these items can only be seen if Residents check the Trial Balance/Audit Trail which is only provided if residents ask for the Invoice Files covering the period from 2005/06 when the Fraudulent Price Fixing was owned up to by the Peverel Directors some of those now at Freemont Property Services Ltd.

    • Our Accounts are still taking 6 moths to be Audited and when they are our Area Manager refuses to have a meeting stating no need as they have been Audited???

      Our freehold at Ashbrook Court was sold to MB Freehold Ltd care of Landmark Collections in Bolton having a Post Box as an address. When I finally found out from Peverel Retirement and emailed them I was informed any further information about them can be found on Companies House. I thought the freeholder might want to know that Peverel have a For Sale Notice fixed to a wall.
      Following on, from Sale of House Managers Flats (HMF).

      A For Sale Board from a local estate agent has been placed in the HMF. This is visible from the kitchen window. The HMF was to be sold once the original freeholder had provided an office for the part time HM. I have spoken to the ex-freeholder who is very unhappy that Pev/Port have now refused to allow the sale of a garage to be turned into an office.
      This leaves us residents in limbo as we are being charged Council Tax for a HMF that is owned by the ex-freeholder. The landlord Pev/Port have no responsibility to us residents as we are charged over a thousand pounds each year for a flat they wanted empty. Which is what they wanted when they gave us all the reasons to replace the Fulltime HM and replace with Part Time HM.

      Our last HM lasted less than 2 weeks and left after receiving £500 worth of training which we again paid for. We have not had a Part Time HM for 6 months.

      The AM and RM gave us so many reasons that we would benefit from the the change, but forgot to inform us that both were to be rewarded financially if we changed to Part Time? The HMF would be sold releasing the financial rewards.
      Surely the Pev/Port Management, who know that this is has happened on other sites, have to take action against their employees, who we were informed would benefit once the HMF was sold.
      Is this not a Breach of Trust and Fraudulent Behaviour?

      • This was posted by LKP Admin on 21/08/14
        which is still relevant today as the SFO and the OFT decided that the offences were not serious enough?

        Ripped-off pensioners, betrayed Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation whistleblowers, four-year tokenistic OFT inquiry, cost: £500,000, craven trade bodies, Cirrus unpunished, stooges go into ‘liquidation’ … one minnow fined £1,777?

        – 2005 to 2009 Peverel cheats pensioners at 65 site by installing Cirrus equipment through bogus tendering
        – Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation alerts police, SFO and OFT, and The Times publishes article on December 4 2009
        – But Office of Fair Trading gives Peverel “leniency” for turning itself in at some point in December 2009
        – OFT starts investigation a leisurely 18 months later
        – July 2013 OFT admits the leniency deal with Peverel. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and politicians are furious
        – Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation whistleblowers who had co-operated with OFT – and sworn to secrecy – are disgusted
        – December 2013 OFT issues ruling saying Cirrus scammed pensioners with £1.4 million contracts at 65 retirement sites
        – January 2014 OFT ended. Competition and Markets Authority launches inquiry into leasehold management
        – Minnows in the scam – Glyn Jackson Communications, Peter O’Rourke Electrical and Owens Installations – are fined.
        –Two go into liquidation in 2012 and escaped fines. Owens fined £1,777
        – No sanctions against Cirrus; no one at Peverel censured or dismissed
        – Sir Peter Bottomley talks of ‘possible criminal behaviour involving Peverel’
        – Peverel / Cirrus scandal gets extensive media coverage
        – February 2014 Cirrus wins lucrative contract with Housing21
        – ARMA of which Peverel is one of the largest members, says it won’t do anything. It has no ‘locus’, it says
        – ARHM Peverel provides the bulk of funding, prodded by Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation into considering the scandal
        – August 2014 ARHM reluctantly makes statement
        — The systematic cheating of the elderly by a property manager’s subsidiary is a breach of its code of practice.
        — ARHM Concludes no action should be taken
        – 09 /2014 Jeremy Owen, of Cirrus stooge company Owens Installations, says what they were doing was “corrupt”
        — Peverel/Cirrus management knew what was going on and did nothing?
        Chas Says:
        Why was the OFT allowed to give both companies exemption from financial penalty?

        Why did the OFT take 4 years to complete investigation?

        Why did the OFT claim information on the perpetrators was classified and not in the Public Interest

        Why was the investigation so limited when The Peverel Group and OFT new other developments were scammed but were happy with what they had as it meant less work and collusion was seen to have occurred?

    • Sebastian,
      I have tried to send this posting below to the SFO regarding the failure of the OFT and the SFO itself to investigate fully the Fraudulent behaviour by Peverel/Cirrus from 2005/09.

      Dear Mr *****

      Collusive Tendering Admitted by The Peverel Group in 2009

      On the 16/12/2009 a complaint was first registered by (names can be redacted if you wish) Ken Kilmister, Melissa Briggs and Don Heady (copy available) with the SFO regarding collusion to defraud elderly residents who were Leasehold Tenants at Peverel Group Companies.
      The SFO took 2 weeks looking at the complaint before deciding that the complaint was not serious enough and passed it on to the OFT. On receiving the complaint the OFT informed the three complainants that the OFT Investigation was subject to strict confidential restrictions and they were not to release the information, the OFT later threatened them to keep quit or they could be charged with an offense?

      The Collusive Tendering had been occurring for over 5 years from 2005/2009 and was highlighted in the press by James Charles 26/09/09,07/11/09 and 04/12/09 regarding over pricing Service Charges and Collusion. In late December The Peverel Group phoned the OFT and informed them that they were prepared to own up to Collusive Tendering, (after the Press Releases and after the initial complaint was made).

      The two week period that the SFO held on to the complaining email was before the Peverel Group owned up to Price Fixing. The result of this delay meant that both Peverel and Cirrus were allowed immunity from prosecution. The OFT stated that the complaint was made after the Peverel Group had Blown the Whistle which is not correct.

      In December 2013 the OFT announced that Cirrus and PMSL, (both Peverel Group Companies) breached competition law and had Colluded from 2005 to 2009 specifically relating to the 65 Retirement Developments (names and works carried out available) for Warden Call Systems and Fire Alarm Systems. The Peverel Group agreed to provide all details on tenders conducted between 2005/2009. Peverel only released information they wanted in the public domain. No mention was made regarding the Developments that may have been Price Fixed prior to 2004 and on Developments where the Area/Regional Managers were still working for Peverel/Cirrus. The OFT refused when asked to investigate further Developments such as Ashbrook Court, stating they would only investigate the 5 years 2005/09 and the 65 Developments put forward by the Peverel Group.

      The Peverel Group accepted the OFT findings and paid £100,000 Compensation into the Contingency Funds of those Developments on 06/01/2014, (compensation for the developments that overpaid for the works undertaken) nothing for the illegal Collusive Tendering.

      The fact that The Peverel Group cooperated throughout the 4 year investigation allowed immunity from financial penalties. This cooperation was to be fully made and all information was to be made available but only for 65 developments. It has since become known that more than 65 Developments were Price Fixed as concluded and accepted by The OFT and The Peverel Group its self.

      The OFT Report Annexe 2

      Part Extract from the OFT`s Decision Paragraphs 5.8 and 5.9:

      “Peverel Group Ltd informed the OFT that, at least from late 2006, it was of the view that there was collusive tendering in respect of every such contract. This would mean that a substantially larger number of bids would have been the subject of anti-competitive behaviour than is found in the Decision.” The OFT decided that it was not an administrative priority to carry out any further investigations.

      We at Ashbrook Court, have now received copies of our Tender Documents that show that we were Price Fixed, using the same model of tendering used by Cirrus and Glyn Jackson. I have on many occasions asked Peverel Group, Peverel Management Services Ltd trading as Peverel Retirement, to refund Service Charges that we paid as the consultation for the Up-Grade did not take place.

      The Consultation Process should have taken into account the Two Options prepared by Cirrus in 2007. The Area Manager decided not to Consult even though they had 9 months from when it was damaged, they failed. Without consultation the maximum that we should have paid was 28 times £250, which is £7,000 not the £20,00 that was paid. The reason we had the Two Options was we were wrongly informed by our Area Manager that the WCS was Obsolete in 2006 then in 2007 lightening was said to have hit the WCS.

      Peverel Ex-Directors

      The Directors of these companies would have been aware (or should have been aware) of the Collusive Tendering yet no action was ever taken against any of them. Four of the Directors are now Directors of a similar company Freemont Property Managers Ltd undertaking the same work for Residential Developments and attempting to replace Peverel Retirement now (FirstPort Retirement Properties Ltd) from the Developments where they were once Directors.

      Collusive Tendering Costs @ 65 Retirement Developments.

      The cost of the contracts for the 65 Developments was £1.4 million pounds and the cost to the Tax Payer for the investigation was over £500,000. The companies involved according to the original complaint were:
      •Consensus Business Group Ltd (CBG) owned by Vincent Tchenguiz and his family
      •Fairhold Homes Ltd owned by CBG
      •Peverel Group Ltd (PGL) owned by CBG
      •Peverel Management Services Ltd (PMSL) owned by PGL
      •Cirrus Communications Systems Ltd (Cirrus) owned by PGL
      •Glyn Jackson Communications Ltd independent contractor, subcontractor to Cirrus

      Two further sub contractors were used during this period and they also were found guilty of Price Fixing and were named in the 2013 OFT Report those being:

      The three sub-contractors were all found guilty of Price Fixing Collusive Tendering and were fined £57,000. Only Owens paid the fine (£1,777) as the other two subcontractors were placed into Administration. Peverel and Cirrus were allowed to get away Scot Free Glyn Jackson was later found working on Peverel Sites in 2013/14.

      When Tendering for work it states that one of the Tenderers must have no connection at all with Peverel/Cirrus yet Glyn Jackson was a subcontractor for Cirrus. This was confirmed by Peverel Services Ltd, Head of Customer Relations..

      I therefore request that a formal investigation be undertaken by the SFO into the Collusive Tendering that allowed The Peverel Group Companies to make £1.4 million pounds from the Collusive Tendering. The Directors of the Peverel Companies should also be investigated and if found guilty should be charged under the Fraud Act 2006.

      The fraud began when Cirrus were deciding which developments they would update/replace and stating they were obsolete.

      • Following on from the Peverel/Cirrus Fraud.

        A recent source has explained that Cirrus Communication Services Ltd (now Appello) themselves visited Residential Developments during 2005/09 to determine what they could undertake and when.
        So we had the Price Fixer visiting the developments they chose along with and allowed by Peverel Management Services Ltd (trading as Peverel Retirement) who would report to Peverel, who would then commence the Fraud.
        The AM would state that the WCS/FS were obsolete and needed to be replaced shortly, spare parts were no longer available. The seed was sown and now planted. Then letters stating the same and an increase in the Contingency Fund was needed. This gave Peverel/Cirrus 12 months to arrange for Cirrus to win the contracts.
        Problems arose because they became greedy and Cirrus was winning every contract so it was taking longer for Cirrus to undertake the works so they decided to use the loosing subcontractor to undertake the contract they had over priced.

        • SFO refused to investigate as the fraud by Peverel/Cirrus was not in London or Serious Enough, also the MPs no longer have to ask for our help as the next General Election is in 2020.

          What a sadness?

          • Dear Mr Willis,

            Thank you for your emails to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

            The SFO investigates and, where appropriate, prosecutes cases of serious or complex fraud (including cases of domestic or overseas bribery and corruption) which, in the opinion of the Director of the SFO, call for the multi-disciplinary approach and legislative powers available to the SFO. In deciding what cases to adopt, the Director will take into account all the circumstances of the case and consider:

            * cases which undermine UK commercial/financial PLC in general
            * and the City of London in particular;
            * cases where the actual or potential loss involved are high;
            * cases where actual or potential harm is significant;
            * cases where there is a very signifcant public interest element; and
            * new species of fraud.
            We After carefully considering the information provided, we have concluded this matter is not complex enough to warrant an SFO investigation, and thus does not require the use of the SFO’s expertise or specialist powers. We have reviewed this matter on previous occasions and have reached the same evaluation. We can confirm that the SFO’s stance remains the same and therefore, no further action will be taken by us at present.

            I regret to have to give you what may be disappointing news. I would, however, like to thank you once more for bringing this matter to the attention of the SFO.

            Yours Sincerely,
            The Intelligence Unit
            Serious Fraud Office
            Original Message

            From: reporting@sfo.gov.uk [mailto:reporting@sfo.gov.uk]
            Sent: 24 August 2015 00:47
            To: PGP Referrals
            Subject: Report Fraud from SFO Website

    • Latest Peverel Scam Uncovered

      It has taken me 3 years to get a hold of the Blue Book which has been available at Residential Developments but kept quiet and hidden. It explains charges that we pay for in the Management Fees. These Management Fees include many of the individual costs that have been charged again under different headings within the Service Charge Budget each year.
      These items covering a Range of Activities have already been paid for in Management Fees. The Blue Book dated 07/2011 from Peverel Retirement and another dated 05/2015 from Firstport Property Services Ltd explain in detail what is covered in Management Fees. The Heading are similar with subtle changes as below:-

      From these two booklets it has become clear that we have been paying twice for a Range of Activities and for the publications of The Welcome Pack and we also pay for the magazine Life & Style, the list begins:-
      1.Management Fees
      2.Service Charge Assessed & Verified
      3.Independent Audits
      4.Arrange Tenders
      5.Development Managers Training
      6.Staff Visits & Travel Costs
      7.Major Works Consultation
      8.Health & Safety
      9.Risk Assessments
      10.ARMA Codes of Practice
      11.Welcome Pack
      12.Life & Style Magazine

      We were Price Fixed at Ashbrook Court (ABC) in 2007/08 where Glyn Jackson (GJ) the Contractor sent in a Bogus Tender for our Warden Call System (WCS) 2 weeks past the CUT OF DATE, where each item was exactly 20% higher than the tender prices from Cirrus. This didn’t matter as the contract had already been earmarked for Cirrus Communication Service Ltd.
      Having secured the contract by fraudulent tenders, Peverel Management Services Ltd (PMSL) gave the contract to GJ and charged them a subcontract fee. As it was an emergency no consultation took place to discuss the 2 Options that CCSI priced early in 2007. It took 9 months from the 20/06/2007 to 02/04/2008 for the contract to be completed as GJ was busy undertaking other Bogus Contacts won by Cirrus and then given to them. This was a result of the 5 years collusion to cheat over 2,000 residents in 65 developments where Peverel made £1.4 million pounds from the collusion and price fixing.

      Booklets from Peverel/Firstport

      * Firstport Retirement Property Services A Guide to Fees Our Fees Explained 05/2015
      * Peverel Retirement Your Service Charge Explained 07/2011
      * Peverel Management Services Important Information Enclosed 03/2003

      1. Management Fees (MF)
      Management Fees are not shown complete as Peverel/Firsport separate costs giving the impression that the actual MF at Ashbrook Court (ABC) is less than half what we pay for the Service Peverel Supplied. Included in the Service is the RHM who received Remuneration which we paid nearly £12,000 a year. Then Relief Costs if required, allows the costs of traveling which is also in the Management Fee?

      Management Fee £12,920.40
      Remuneration £11,715.38
      These two costs added together are £24,635.78, Area Manager (RC) stated this was for clarification only, when I asked why was Training was not a separate heading, RC said nothing?

      2.& 3. Service Charge Assessed and Verified/External Audit
      This is shown as being included in the Management Fees, yet we have been charged this fee as separate £328 Professional Fees?

      4. Arrange Tenders
      The tenders for Painting and Window replacement was charged to the Service Charge costing us nearly £3,000 even though the costs were included in the Management Fee?

      5. Development Management Training
      Development Managers Training is covered in the Management Fees, yet we are charged again under Remuneration. The costs charged to our Service Charge over the past 7 years amount to over £2,500 for the 4 RHM and £500 for the Part Time House Manager.

      6. Staff Visits & Travel Costs
      We have in the past and in the future pay for Relief/Deputy visits which cost us £15.00 P/H, times the number of hours worked 3 hours a day this works out to £45.00 a day three visits a week costs us £54.00 in Travel Costs which are shown to be included in the Management Fees.

      7. Major Works Consultation
      Major Works Consultation is included in the Management Fees, we were charged 10% of the contract sums for both Painting and Replacement Window contacts costing us £3,000 in Service Charges, this reflects the redundancies arranged by Peverel in 2009/10 by Keith Edgar when the Peverel Group made almost all Technical Staff redundant and transferred the costs to the residents?

      8 & 9 Health & Safety/Risk Assessment/Fire Testing Assessments
      Health & Safety is an ongoing requirement which is included in the Management Fees yet we have paid from Service Charges for Risk Assessments to trees which were only saplings at the time and charged again to the Service Charge for Tree Surveys? Risk Assessments are included in the Management Fees yet we were charged by Cardinus for a Risk Assessment which was a farce and was not properly carried out this again we paid for from the Service Charge. Fire Testing is only required in the House Managers Flat at ABC and is included in the Management Fees, yet other developments are charged separately for this and charged to the Service Charge?

      10. ARMA Code of Practice/Ombudsman
      These are not provided by Peverel so are not a Service Charge, but are a Management Operational Cost which is part of the Service they are required to provide under the LTD?

      11. Welcome Pack
      Welcome Packs (WP) are charged to the resident selling, (£308) which is then given to the incoming resident and is included in the Management Fees, the new resident then pays the Service Charges, Management Fees which also include the payment for the WP, so every resident pays twice for the WP?

      12. Publication of the Life & Style Magazine
      Publication of the Life & Style Magazine is paid from the Management Fees, when I asked RC if we contributed to the magazine he wrote yes in a letter to me then denied this fact?
      I will expect a call form Peverel to set up a meeting the senior management including the Director at Ashbrook Court to arrange refunds for these items we have paid for twice?
      Watch this space???

    • Dear Intelligence Unit, SFO.

      As you do not have a name I feel that you have not taken this as serious as we have.
      Your brief dismissal can be construed that you had long ago been informed that this is taboo and is likely to cause problems.

      Your comments on what you do investigate seem to be unfair to pensioners who were specifically chosen because they are unlikely to complain if the perpetrators were found out, which is exactly what Serious Fraud Office has also done.

      If we were from London in particular the City of London, then we would have been within the scope of the SFO. This is seen as ageism and the SFO has said to us , don’t bother us you are not from London therefore we are too busy to get involved.

      Many of the residents that were cheated were from London and the cheating lasted 5 years and was the tip of the iceberg.

      I will copy this to my friend Sir Peter Bottomley and other MP and to Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, LKP and About Peverel.

      Scope where investigation will be investigated are seen below, which:-

      •undermine UK commercial/financial PLC in general and the City of London in particular;
      •and where the actual or potential loss involved are high;
      •and where actual or potential harm is significant;
      •and where there is a very significant public interest element;
      •and new species of fraud.

      Of course we as pensioner are of little interest to Government Departments unless there is an election looming, which has now happened so they have 5 years before they need again too ask for support?

      Charles Willis

      From: confidential@sfo.gsi.gov.uk
      To: cpwillis46@hotmail.com
      Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:46:18 +0100
      Subject: Report Fraud from SFO Website [Unclassified]

      Dear Mr Willis,

      Thank you for your emails to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

      The SFO investigates and, where appropriate, prosecutes cases of serious or complex fraud (including cases of domestic or overseas bribery and corruption) which, in the opinion of the Director of the SFO, call for the multi-disciplinary approach and legislative powers available to the SFO. In deciding what cases to adopt, the Director will take into account all the circumstances of the case and consider:

      cases which undermine UK commercial/financial PLC in general and the City of London in particular;* cases where the actual or potential loss involved are high;
      cases where actual or potential harm is significant;
      cases where there is a very significant public interest element; and
      new species of fraud.

      We after carefully considering the information provided, we have concluded this matter is not complex enough to warrant an SFO investigation, and thus does not require the use of the SFO’s expertise or specialist powers. We have reviewed this matter on previous occasions and have reached the same evaluation. We can confirm that the SFO’s stance remains the same and therefore, no further action will be taken by us at present.

      I regret to have to give you what may be disappointing news. I would, however, like to thank you once more for bringing this matter to the attention of the SFO.

      Yours Sincerely,
      The Intelligence Unit
      Serious Fraud Office
      Original Message

      From: reporting@sfo.gov.uk [mailto:reporting@sfo.gov.uk]
      Sent: 24 August 2015 00:47
      To: PGP Referrals
      Subject: Report Fraud from SFO Website

    • Sebastian please inform me why the comments from me regarding the SFO was deleted totally?

      In the past you have redacted words names you have not thought fit.?

      You can answer on your own Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation Site or Phone Me!!!

      • Did I miss this posted or has it been reinstated.

        Sorry if I missed it.

        Thank you if it was reinstated.

        Sebastian do you think that the Arrest of the Tchenguiz Brothers which was later found to on doggy evidence, and the subsequent 6 Million Pounds (£6 million) paid to the brothers for false arrest has frightened the SFO, as was the previous OFT?

        Can Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation highlight the failure now of both OFT and SFO?

        Yours Charles Willis

      • Michael Hollands says

        Chas, I think the chances of getting a criminal action against Peverel/First Port have gone.
        The OFT and SFO washed their hands of it, and very few of the elderly residents who were the victims are prepared to take the giant step of taking legal action.
        The ARHM of whom Peverel/First Port are members allowed them to escape with a reprimand, they had to as most of their finance came from this large company.
        Your only hope is that ARMA insist on Peverel/First Port giving full and fair compensations to all the complexes that were affected before they grant ARMA Q membership to this company.
        I have had a lot of correspondence with ARMA on this and I must say it is like getting blood out of a stone.
        They have been in consideration of Peverel/fFirst Port joining for almost a year now, the conclusion they eventually come to will say a lot about them.

        • Lesley Newnham says

          I agree the chances of any redress from managing agents in general not just Peverel/First Port are slim and I do not see ARMA-Q changing that. If Keith Hill is serious why did he not do something as Housing Minister? On News on the Block site you can read that First Port have ‘won’ the contract to manage Quintain Emerald Gardens at Wembley Park with residents moving in 2016. There is also a list of the Hot 100 of the most influential people in the residential leasehold property sector. In my opinion some good some not so good!

          In Flat Living magazine there is an article on Nigel Howell for First Port and also one on Noella Morton for ARMA both worth a read!

        • Michael Epstein says

          Question for ARMA?
          Obviously ARMA have concerns over admitting Firstport Retirement into ARMA-Q, otherwise the decision would have been made long since.
          So why, if Firstport Retirement is not yet considered suitable for membership are other Firstport companies members?
          After all, they are run by the same people?

          • Michael,
            The first I remember regarding ARMA-Q and Peverel Companies were not considered to be at all suitable as The Price Fixing was seen to have begun at such a high level and that The Peverel Group did not reveal all developments that were Price Fixed?

            Mr Keith Hill, in 2004 a Housing Minister, who I believe refused to investigate Leasehold irregularities of companies named as, Estates & Management and The Consensus Business Group, who were both part of The Tchenguiz Family Trust.

            It has been said that this was partly responsible for the 2008 Financial Crash where the Kaupthing Bank had one of their directors was Vincent Tchenguiz?

            The ARMA connection to Firstport/Peverel and an ex minister is something worth checking.

            This was sent today;

            Mr Keith Hill is to be The Independent Chair?

            What is the Residents’ Housing Commission?

            Local tenants and leaseholders are being offered the opportunity to take more control of their local council homes.

            H&F Council launched a pioneering online consultation last December to seek views on how residents living in the borough’s 12,500 council homes and 4,600 leasehold properties could have more say over how their homes were run.

            The Residents’ Housing Commission will assess the wide range of options available to give residents more control over their homes. It will run its own consultation and there will be a ballot on its final proposals before any decisions are made.

            The Commission will be made up of the independent chair, six tenants, three leaseholders and three independent experts. It will take evidence from independent housing experts and members of the public.

            Anyone wishing to give evidence to the Residents’ Housing Commission should email: housing.consultation@lbhf.gov.uk.

  2. Further to Event Fees and Service Charges.

    Is the paying of Council Tax for an empty House Managers Flat through the Service Charge allowed as this is not a Service Provided for our benefit. The Service Charge should only reflect items that are provided as in the name “A SERVICE” where paying Council Tax for a Freeholder/Landlord can not be an acceptable payment and I have asked that the total paid over the past 3 years be refunded.

    The LVT and the FTT having considered in the past that items were not allowed:

    The Tribunal ruled membership of the Housing Ombudsman Service was not a service provided by the manager. It added: “the facility of paying the subscription through the service charge is not a “service or item provided by the Manager” which “shall enhance the enjoyment security or safety of the Lessees of the Dwellings”, in that the subscription provides access to an additional body to whom lessees can complain, and does not enhance their enjoyment security or safety.” Peverel lost the action, and could not claim its legal costs.

    This did not stop Peverel [REDACTED …].

    This has become an Event Fee that was never explained to us [REDACTED…]. We were informed that on moving from Full Time HM to Part Time HM we will no longer be responsible for ANY COST that would be expected before or after the HMF was sold. We were also informed that the selling of the HMF would allow the Service Charges to be divided by 29 flats instead of 28 which meant a reduction for the existing 28 residents.

    We now find the HMF empty, the Freehold sold to Landmark and the office we were promised in 2012/13 no longer happening. The original Freeholder, Mercian Development Ltd have to-date paid out thousands of pounds in Fees, to change a single garage into an office so as to release for sale the HMF. We have been informed that Pev/Port have refused to allow the original freeholder to purchase the garage having agreed to in 2014. No reason was given but it was noted that the freeholder now owned all the 29 flats???

    Our Area/Regional Manger refuses to even discuss the history of the HMF where the AM was complicit in the information provided regarding the sale.

    Another Breach of Trust, including being deceitful and providing fraudulent information where both of these managers stood to benefit from the sale, which they forgot to inform us, is this not a predetermined action leading to fraudulent misrepresentation?

  3. A Reviewer says


    Just read the full text of the presentation.

    “the auditor shall certify”.

    This seems to be a parody of construction procurement contracts where “The Engineer” CERTIFIES to the client that the contractor is due a payment. The terms and conditions pertaining to such contracts are extremely onerous on all parties, and include Chartered Professionals who are members of a reputable organisation such as The Institution of Civil Engineers who regulates their membership very firmly. ARMA et al simply do not have that capability.

    And Professional Indemnity insurance, performance bonds, and all manner of other instruments and contracts massivly reduce the risk of corruption – that cycle of Greed, followed by Fraud, leading to Corrupt Practice.

    The need is therefore to remove the GREED factor.

    Accreditation to ISO9001 being made mandatory for all manging agents would insert INDEPENDENT assessors into the system.

    Auditors as the man says form Opinions. BIG difference.

    happy days

  4. Paul Joseph says

    Why start with ISO9001, which could be burdensome to small companies and impose additional costs on leaseholders? ARMA has people on its board from a company GROSSLY unfit to be a member and whose current membership status is unclear. The practice of borrowing client money supposedly held in trust should be a serious criminal offence. These are indicators of what passes for normal in this business today.

    The company I said was unfit to be a member of ARMA employed people with criminal records at our development, and it has been found by the OFT to have engaged in fraud. To begin with, I’d have thought, a focus on eliminating criminal behaviour and opportunities for it (by, among other things, enacting CLRA sections 152-156 e.g.) would be more useful than ensuring quality improvements.

    After all, if I’m not mistaken, a company could at present appear to comply with IS09001 and still engage in either criminal behavior or egregious conflict of interest that is PERFECTLY LEGAL! I’m unconvinced an independent assessor of quality code compliance would necessarily be more successful than an auditor. ISO certificates can be bought and those who would subvert an RTM process by offering a brown envelope wouldn’t hesitate to subvert the certification. The law is less open to subversion (one hopes!).

    However, after searching on “ISO9001 fraud corruption” I agree that it could help.

    What’s needed

    1. Cracking down on the known abuses.
    2. Raising awareness of the drawbacks of leasehold.
    3. A renewed effort to have commonhold replace leasehold, starting with new builds, then removing the requirement for 100% participation to convert to commonhold for existing builds.
    4. Raising standards, e.g., with ISO9001.

    If any managing agent is complying with ISO9001 I’d like to know. It could be useful for distinguishing the best from the merely good.

    • A Reviewer says


      Good response.

      However IF getting accreditation does NOT save more money than it cost … its a badly implemented system.

      Happy Days

  5. The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act was debated in UK Parliament over 10 years ago and passed into Legislation in 2002 . But now we learn S152 and S156 were not commenced and this is the reason why we still have problems with service charge funds left in the custody and under control of unscrupulous companies, and not fit to be a trustee of OPM.

    How many wasted years does it take to get 2 pieces of the CLRA 2002 Act into daily usage and how many Housing Ministers have held the HM post since 2002 and not done anything.

    Can Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation & LKP push the Housing Minister and Editorial legal team for Commonhold Act to prioritise the Comencement of S152 and allow every leasehold block or estate have their service charge contributions held in separate designated bank account ? Also Housing Minister to request the high street banks to offer segregated bank accounts for holding service charge money to CLRA Act S156 . I believe that HSBC can offer this account but other banks like Lloyds and Barclays and Nat West don’t have this or their bank staff don’t know their bank account products .

    At the same time, residents in retirement homes can canvass their local MP to demand the Housing Minister commence S156 for segregated bank accounts for holding their service charge contributions.

  6. Paul Joseph says

    Q. For David Cameron at PMQ’s

    Will the prime minister confirm that his wife’s family is one of the largest freeholders in the UK and that the Conservative party has received 6 figure donations from freeholders who currently exploit leaseholders by overcharging them for services and will he comment on the government’s previously expressed view that leasehold reform is not required?

  7. Paul,

    This thread should be discussion on problems caused by inadequate legislation for service charges administration . We should ALL focus on demanding provision of separate bank account for service charges for each retirement block or estate if more that one block at same site and commencement of S156 in the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act.. The legislation already passed in parliament but not yet commenced.

    Your question for PMQ should be put to your local MP to raise in Parliament. but I think the lack of leasehold Reform cannot be blamed on PM’s wife. Did the 6 figure donation to Conservative Party happen in last election or before the 2010 election ?. A Con Party MP will not raise the question for PMQ and so you would need that lady SNP MP without name ?

  8. Paul Joseph says

    The larger point is that the persistence of leasehold (which has been abolished everywhere that inherited it from English common law) is the enabler of of abuses that successive reforms have still failed to curb. It has persisted precisely because of large vested interests, such as that of the Astor family, and their political influence. Vincent Tchenquiz didn’t give the Conservatives money because he favoured their policies on climate change or international development.

    Today Cameron has come out in favour of identifying the owners of property in London and of Transparency International’s agenda (http://www.unmaskthecorrupt.org) because he realizes that the stench of corruption and money laundering is now doing to London’s reputation what Lord Sewel has done for the House of Lords’. More and more Londoners are paying ever higher service charges out of their taxed income and many are having to move further out or give up the possibilty of owning a home in London at all (not just those on benefits!). This is a political time bomb, and it will likely be even more of an issue if Labour elect a leader committed to addressing it. So best to make it look like it was already in hand by at least making plausible sounding noises.

  9. Michael Holllands says

    In about 10 days time it will be the first anniversary of the ARMA Boards consideration of allowing Peverels/First Ports entry into ARMA Q. Shall we all send them a card, maybe a Get Well card would suit.

  10. Michael Epstein says

    Perhaps a SAE to Sue Petri?

  11. Michael, the fact it has taken a year and still not an answer says more about ARMA than Pev/Port?

    If it takes 12 months to decide if Pev/Port will be given ARMA-Q says so much more about both organisations who between them would not be suitable to represent themselves as acceptable to any organisation that had links to elderly residents who are Leasehold Tenants?