July 20, 2024

More than 50 leaseholder representatives gather in Worthing

John Fenwick addresses leaseholders at the Worthing meeting organised by News on the Block

More than 50 leaseholders attended a meeting in Worthing last week to hear John Fenwick explain how he managed to win a legal battle over £137,000 of service charges at his retirement development in the town.

The fees concerned the notional rent for the house manager’s flat at Oakland Court, and dated back to the Eighties. The dispute is finally reaching settlement, although it will ot amount to £137,000.

The event, which was organised by News on the Block magazine, was also attended by Sebastian O’Kelly, chairman of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, who told the meeting that the “tectonic plates in leasehold are shifting and there will be greater protection for consumers in leasehold.”

He added: “Long term, the solution is: just stop building any more of it and build commonhold like the rest of the world.

“England and Wales have to perform legal somersaults to make leasehold equitable and fair– including the right to compulsorily purchase someone else’s property, the freehold. Leasehold is reformed about every ten years to make it work, and it still doesn’t. Surely that is telling us something that the rest of the world twigged years ago?”

The Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation chairman outlined forthcoming changes in the leasehold world notably:

–    recent debates in Lords and Commons,
–    two Channel Four Dispatches documentaries on leasehold, the first on August 20
–    the liberal centrist think tank CentreForum bringing out its influential report on leasehold reforms
–    the Ministry of Justice consulting on reforms of the Leasehold Valuation Tribunals
–    repercussions of the sentencing of rogue managing agent Simon van Houten to 30 months in prison for plundering leaseholder accounts

The event was chaired by Bob Smytherman, of the Federation of Private Residents Associations, and then there were smaller advice sessions on enfranchisement, right to manage and service charges headed by commercial outfits and representatives of LEASE, the leasehold advisory service.

“Fifty leaseholders may not seem that many, but they included those who had travelled from all over the South East,” said O’Kelly. “All had serious issues in the homes where they live and came on behalf of groups of other leaseholders who are all trying to sort out problems.

“These are problems that they should not be having.”


  1. I still see no mention of Freeholders in any of these statements of gatherings. As a Retired Freehold Owner in a Private Sheltered Housing Development, I am more that a little disappointed by the inaction of others, viz my constituent MP and Grant Shapps, and just to rub salt into the wounds, those outrageous statements in the House of Lords about not protectinf our funds makes my blood boil even greater.

    So, what about us Freehold Home Owners linked to Leasehold Flat Owners, the latter appear to have more Rights than the rest of, and the rest of us are 15 Freehold Owners compared to 8 Leasehold Flat Owners.

    • There are 28 freehold properties to 2 leasehold properties on my development and yet under current legislation we have no rights whatsoever. Even Peverel’s Legal Services Manager, thinks this situation is unfair and something ought to be done to include us in future legislation.

  2. A one politician who knows all about this is David Cameron, who intervened in Windrush Court in Burford. Search “Windrush Court” on this site. The residents there were lucky enough to have the prime minister as their constituency MP. Not so good to help those who live elsewhere. I am not informed on this subject, but imagine all these freeholds come with restrictive covenants and charges for common areas. There are plenty of freehold scavengers who would like to pick those up, and start monetising. I am not sure what can be done, except publicising each individual case. Has any MP ever publicly addressed the issue of freeholds in retirement developments?

  3. A Reviewer` says

    Hi all

    There is a lot of comment about.

    There are two questions to be raised:
    a) how well is the property maintained longterm ? good maintenance leads to lower longterm occasional costs, combined with a better property value.
    b) is value for money obtained for works and services provided ?

    on a) for example: failure to properly paint the exterior leads to longterm degradation of the structure which in turn means large bills to fix this. like replacement of windows.

    on b) for example: on our estate we pay SIX THOUSAND pounds a year for some 300 hours of cleaning. thats TWENTY pounds an hour for a cleaner. cleaners get paid say six pounds an hour. so where has the other fourteen gone ? cleaning materials are charged extra of course. in ten years that would save us over £20,000 for which some major remedial works could be carried out. like sorting out the uneven mono block car park area.

    incidentally achieving a satisfactory result to both these questions or objectives leads to a much happier set of residents.

    and where this happens under a good managing agent, everyone is very happy. NO complaints, NO lvt’s, NO court cases; just nice happy uncomplicated living.

    thats what we all want.

    the very existence of ttas, peverelaction and Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, let alone lots of others, shows that under certain managing agents this is simply not happening.

    there is enough misery in the world … syria etc etc. but we have too many people jumping on political band wagons saying a lot but in reality doing nothing.

    happy days