October 18, 2019

Pensioner, 73, given last minute reprieve over forfeiture of his home

Dennis Jackson, 73, faced losing his home and his life-savings in a forfeiture action heard behind closed doors today

Dennis Jackson, 73, faced losing his home and his life-savings in a forfeiture action heard behind closed doors today

The pensioner who had the lease on his £800,000 flat forfeited won a reprieve today when his mortgage lender stepped in to pay his outstanding debts.

Dennis Jackson, 73, a former commercial photographer, had the lease on his split-level flat at Plantation Wharf in Battersea forfeited last month and had 28 days to be out of the property.

But in a court action this morning – the day before Jackson faced being ruined and made homeless – the Prudential, which has a £175,000 mortgage on the property, undertook to pay the outstanding debt.

Ninety per cent of the amount owed is accounted for in legal fees for the freeholder, Cube Real Estate. The original dispute involved only £7,000 in service charges.

It was most unusual for a forfeiture order to have been granted, which had it not been lifted would have utterly ruined Jackson and made him homeless. It would have granted Cube Real Estate the windfall of a valuable property, destroyed Jackson’s life-savings and lost the Prudential its £175,000 loan.

Before the court case this morning, the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership was active to ensure that this calamity was avoided.

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, and Battersea MP Jane Ellison, have been actively involved in the case, as has Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of the Prudential.

Housing minister Mark Prisk has been kept informed throughout by Sir Peter, who has also raised the issue with the Ministry of Justice.

In an extraordinary decision, Deputy District Judge Colquhoun held the hearing in private and ordered from the court Sebastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd, of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.

This meant that Jackson faced losing everything he has in a court from which the public were excluded.

Bastin2Alexander Bastin (left), counsel for freeholder Cinnamon Wharf, part of Cube Real Estate, objected to the presence of the two non-participants.

“This is a private money matter,” he told the judge. “There are Human Rights Act issues and one of those present [O’Kelly] is from the press.”

Jackson made clear his wish that the two remain.

Judge Colquhoun was persuaded by Bastin’s objection and the hearing – at which Jackson had no legal representation – was heard in private.

The Prudential undertook to settle Jackson’s £76,086.66 legal bill – which included a bill of £4,750.20 from Bastin and solicitor Janice Northover, of Brecher, for the 10-minute hearing.

Northover has made clear that she is appealing for additional legal costs from an earlier LVT case in July 2012. She will be doing so on behalf of Plantation Wharf Management, which is in fact controlled by the residents.

Jackson is selling his flat and will have to repay Prudential from the proceeds. He is being charged interest of 6.6 per cent.

“I am just delighted that I am not going to be thrown out on the streets and have everything I have ever earned taken away from me,” said a tearful Jackson after the hearing.

The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership will be raising the issue of the public being barred from attending the case with the Ministry of Justice.

Comments

  1. I recently spent a day at Chichester Small Claims Court purely for research reasons— this I understood was my HUMAN RIGHT.
    I don’t understand why Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation or the Public were not allowed to witness the proceedings? I understand that Tribunals involving children and social services are held in private with parents and Judge and legal only allowed–which are causing much debate.
    I did not think this case would be held under the same sort of restrictions.

    Plus why is Dennis the one that owes the £76,000 in legal fees, the LVT had said that the service charges demanded were not reasonable?Maybe Dennis could take the legal fees back to the LVT?

    All the same my heart goes out to Dennis for the LEGAL TORTURE once again that he has had to go through

    • It is extraordinary that Sebastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd were thrown out of Wandsworth County Court. The only human rights involved are those of Dennis Jackson, who had invited them to attend. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP is complaining to the Ministry of Justice about this, and raising the issue in the media. Mr Bastin’s particular objection was because O’Kelly is “press”, which is hardly relevant as “press” have no less or more right to attend a court than anyone else. it used to be an article of faith that justice should be seen to be done. No longer, in the era of ooman rights.
      Regarding the costs, the original LVT issued a section 20c order stating that these could not be raised from the service charge. But the freeholder’s lawyers successfully applied for them to be considered an “administration charge” that is paid by the individual leaseholder. These administration charges can apply where the freeholder takes a leaseholder to LVT to recover a debt. This is why it is so important in a service charge dispute to pay the money, reserving your rights, and then apply to the LVT for repayment. In this way the legal costs are capped at £500.
      Leasehold Knowledge Partnership has been contacted by two multimillionaires involved in leasehold disputes who were blythely allowing themselves to be taken to LVT owing around £40,000 in service charges. The would have faced a barrister, solicitor, accountants etc and, had they lost, would have almost certainly have had to pay for it all.
      Dennis Jackson’s litigation has mainly concerned the legal costs. And every hearing costs more – around £4,000 for 10 minutes in a county court.

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