December 13, 2018

Peverel Retirement up before the ARMA regulator before it can join ARMA-Q

Alex Ellison (right) with her mother, Barbara Weston, daughter and grand-daughter. Alex wants to know whether complicated transferral of assets from retirement sites is lawful

Alex Ellison (right) with her mother, Barbara Weston, daughter and grand-daughter. Alex wants to know whether transferral of communal assets from retirement sites is lawful

ARMA regulator Keith Hill

ARMA regulator Keith Hill

A complaint about Peverel Retirement is being considered by ARMA regulator Keith Hill even before the trade body rules on whether it meets the criteria of ARMA-Q.

The complaint comes from Alex Ellison, whose mother lives in Mere Court, in Knutsford, Cheshire. It concerns Peverel’s ownership and disposal of house managers’ flats.

She has been informed today (January 14) by ARMA chief executive Michelle Banks:

“The [ARMA] council has referred the papers about Peverel Retirement that you sent us to our independent regulator, Keith Hill and has asked for advice from him, before determining their membership application.

“Peverel Retirement has agreed to co-operate with this approach.”

Keith Hill is a former Labour housing minister, whose rulings have already admonished a handful of ARMA managing agents.

Mrs Ellison became indignant when she discovered that Peverel proposed to hold a ballot of residents at Mere Court to end the in-house manager service. This would result in the sale of the house manager’s flat, which would have been to Peverel’s own financial gain.

But Peverel repeatedly told the residents in writing that the flat belonged to the freeholder Proxima, part of the Tchenguiz Family Trust.

In fact, the flat belonged to Peverel (via Peverel HMF limited) and it had a direct incentive to sell it off.

Residents were to be compensated with a £10,000 payment to the contingency fund.

A whole tranche of house managers’ flats were unaccountably assigned leases in Peverel’s name at retirement sites in 2009.

Residents at Mere Court in Knutsford were told the house manager's flat belonged to Proxima. In fact, it belonged to Peverel, which wanted to sell it

Residents at Mere Court in Knutsford were told the house manager’s flat belonged to Proxima. In fact, it belonged to Peverel, which wanted to sell it

After the collapse of the Tchenguiz empire in March 2011 following the arrest of Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz by the Serious Fraud Office on mistaken evidence, some assets remained part of the Tchenguiz interests, but others ended up in the hands of Peverel.

It is believed the flats acted as security for a £25 million RBS loan that helped take Peverel out of administration in 2012.

But at least one senior figure in Peverel long suspected that its ownership of the flats could be challenged in law.

Peter Whalley, a former regional manager, wrote to a leaseholder in October 2013 concerning a proposed sale of a house manager’s flat:

“In doing this, both the landlord and Peverel accept that there is a commercial risk that doing this could be successfully challenged.

“To date, there had been no such challenge.

“If there was a successful challenge, Peverel or the landlord would have to purchase suitable accommodation and re-instate a resident house manager.”

Other retirement housing providers have followed Peverel’s example, including housing associations Hanover, which has sold 21 ex-house manager flats, and Anchor, which has sold six.

Even small-scale private investors in retirement freeholds have done the same.

Elderly residents are easily persuaded to accept the £10,000 – Hanover pays £15,000 – and the prospect of lower service charges that will be shared with another resident.

And the freeholder – or Peverel for some reason – gets to sell off a former communal asset worth ten or even 16 times as much.

Mrs Ellison is particularly indignant that the leases at Mere Court specifically exclude the assignment of a lease to the house manager’s flat.

In all 39 leases there is a clause on page two:

“the lessor has previously granted leases or intends hereafter to grant leases of the flats in the building other than the premises hereby demised and other than the House Manager’s flat.”

The in-house manager service continues at Mere Court, which was built 20 years ago – long before a lease was issued to Peverel for the house manager’s flat in 2009.

Lawyers consulted by Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP believe that these assignments may be unlawful. We are also aware that criminal authorities have looked into this matter

Peverel’s possession and sale of house managers’ flats has been discussed twice in meetings between Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP and Janet Entwistle, Peverel CEO, hosted by MPs Sir Peter Bottomley and Jim Fitzpatrick.

She has stated that the flats legitimately belong to Peverel, which has not sold property that did not belong to the company.

Sebastian O’Kelly raised the issue on February 10 last year. The minutes read:

SOK raised the issue of house manager flat sales and said that it was accepted by Peverel that its claim to ownership of these flats were open to challenge as some were owned by Peverel and some were not.

JE [Janet Entwistle] was confident that Peverel had only sold flats that lawfully belonged to them

Martin Boyd returned to the subject at the meeting on October 10 and the minutes read:

MB: LKP and Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation have had a lot of enquiries on the sale of house manager’s flats and whether the sale is legal. Do Peverel have a legal right to sell these flats?

Janet Entwistle: Confirmed the position at the last meeting, she will repeat. It is straightforward and we have the right to sell them. They have leases for flats where there is a resident house manager who lives in the flat. When there is no further need for the house manager, or where a visiting house manager is preferred, the flat is sold and a voluntary contribution of £10k per flat is made to the resident’s contingency fund.

But Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation has repeatedly asked: why does Peverel own these flats in the first place?

They appear to be assets mined out of the freehold interest in the retirement sites, and then either sold, or borrowed against.

By raising the issue of the ownership and sale of house managers’ flats, Mrs Ellison has presented the ARMA regulator with a complaint that goes to the heart of retirement leasehold.

Mrs Ellison earlier complained to the Association of Retirement Housing Managers, but it only considered the process of Peverel’s consultation with the residents over the proposed flat sale, not the ownership of the flats.

In rejecting the complaint, the ARHM said “…on balance, we do not find that there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that Peverel were driving the option of a non-residential position to any extent, or to prejudice residents during the consultation and ballot process.”

It did say that Peverel’s communications with the residents “could have been improved”.

The concern remains that if Peverel, or rather freeholders, can lay claim to these flats, whose upkeep was paid for by the leaseholders, can they also assume ownership of other common areas such as reception areas, the communal lounge or the steps up to the front door?

With the OFT ruling in December 2013 that Peverel / Cirrus operated a price-fixing scam, ARMA may well feel that this particular organisation is altogether too complicated to join its ranks in ARMA-Q.

ARMA explains applications to ARMA-Q

The following letter from Michelle Banks to LKP / Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation explains how the trade body is dealing with applications to ARMA-Q.

ARMAtoLKP:Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation

Comments

  1. Brilliant. Hearty congratulations to Alex Ellison.

    • Alex,
      We at Ashbrook Court were balloted regarding our House Manager, after the one we had was sacked in 2012 for Gross Misconduct.

      As a result of the sacking the residents voted for a Part Time House Manager. One started in December 2013 but left disillusioned in August 2014.

      The Freehold has been sold to (Landmark) I do not know if they are limited as Peverel Retirement refuse to confirm the sale.

      Peverel Services have sent out the Ground Rent Invoices that cover the period 24/12/14 to 24/06/15, which means that they are still our Freeholder?

      I have informed the Peverel Services Ltd Accounts Department that as we were informed that the Freehold had been sold, why was Mercian Developments name on the invoice? A Peverel employee stated, that after taking advice, he would ensure the Ground Rent was sent out with the correct name, Landmark, no further correspondents has been received.

      As a result of the vote the House Managers Flat will be sold. Peter Whalley Regional Manager had informed us at a meeting in 2012/13 that if we agreed the sale, we would no longer be responsible to replace the:
      Kitchen
      Bathroom
      Decorations
      Boiler

      These items were the originals and the cost mentioned to replace them was the trigger, I believe that made the difference in how residents voted.

      I had attempted to buy the Freehold when offered by Mercian Development but only a quarter of the residents showed any interest.

      Peverel Management Services have a 125 year lease on the House managers Flat so we would have been stuck with them until we could get rid of them. Mr Whalley had stated that:-

      “you don’t get rid of Peverel that easy”

      • I remember that ARMA also turned down the Cirrus Price Fixing as well, is this correct?

        It was Peverel Management Services Ltd, who were the senior partner in the Price Fixing at Ashbrook in 2007/08. They now trade as Peverel Retirement.

        For ARMA to claim that only Cirrus was the wrongdoer and was not as a subsidiary responsible for the Price Fixing is nonsense.

        The subsidiary companies are the only operating companies who operate for The Peverel Group.

        Is this a true reflection?

      • Sebastian, Can you help me understand this?

        Is this a true reflection on fact?

        Michelle Banks chief executive of the Association of Residential Managing Agents, has stated that her organisation will do nothing about the Peverel / Cirrus Price-Fixing Racket.

        This is because Cirrus is not an ARMA member, she informs a Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation reader by email.

        Even though the Office of Fair Trading reported on December 6 that pensioners had been cheated in tenders worth £1.4 million at 65 retirement sites, the largest professional organisation involved in leasehold management has not a public word to say on the subject.

        Banks writes: “We certainly do not condone the practices which led to an adverse ruling … [but] Cirrus is not and never has been an ARMA member.

        “While it has been part of the Peverel Group, the practices that gave rise to the OFT ruling involved Cirrus and Peverel retirement properties. None of the blocks involved were managed by ARMA members and none of the ARMA member companies within the group were involved …

        Chas Says:- Is it true that “None of the blocks involved were managed by ARMA Member Companies?

        65 Developments who were Managed by Peverel Retirement are not covered by the ARMA Membership? why does Peverel Retirement have ARMA advertising on their letters to me?

        “In these circumstances, our Independent Regulator has no locus to investigate or take any action against Cirrus.”

        For months Banks has been attempting to rouse public interest in ARMA’s attempts to bring higher ethical standards to property management via its ARMA-Q scheme.

        Why then is the ARMA logo on the letters I receive from Peverel Retirement? Peverel Management Services Ltd and Peverel Services Ltd???

        • Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation says:

          Michelle Banks said that at that time (Jan 2014) had there been a complaint to ARMA about Cirrus or Peverel Retirement it would not be able to do anything – “no locus”, was the term used. Both were not members of ARMA and ARMA-Q was not in operation.

          Had ARMA-Q been in operation, it would have considered a complaint concerning an ARMA member’s (ie the non-retirement companies of Peverel) subsidiary (Cirrus or Peverel Retirement).

          This was a tiresome evasion, and displayed a lack of leadership in getting to grips with leasehold abuses.

          There was not even a public statement of regret from ARMA that the OFT had spent £500k on an investigation into a leading organisation in leasehold management.

          Indeed, the entire sector just hoped the OFT report would disappear, which it would have done had not Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP kept on pushing and got it taken up by wider media.

          I am sure you are wrong that Peverel Retirement has ever claimed to be a member of ARMA, but if you have a document to that effect please pass it on to us. It could be the basis of another complaint, and no trade body likes its trade mark used by unauthorised companies.

          • Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation,

            You are correct my eyesight is no longer as it was and I will be checking in at our local opticians.

            Sorry, Peverel Retirement Logo should have been AHRM, how do these organisations differ?

          • Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation,

            I have re-examined some of the past comment regarding the Price Fixing:-

            Those that were involved in our developments up-dating of the Warden Call System (WCS)were:
            Peverel Retirement
            Peverel Management Services Ltd
            Cirrus Communications Services Ltd
            Glyn Jackson Communication Ltd

            The letter to Cirrus and Glyn Jackson asking them to tender for the work was written on Peverel Management Services headed paper, Peverel Retirement are a Brand Name for Peverel Management Services Ltd.

            The tender response was written on Peverel Management Services Ltd headed paper as well.

            The acceptance letter from Cirrus was sent to Peverel Management Services Ltd Technical Manager on the 24/09/2007, and to be returned by Noon on the 25/09/20007

            The acceptance letter from Glyn Jackson was returned on the 09/10/2007 14 days after the Noon on the 25/09/2007 and no extension of time for the late tender was requested.

            Peverel Management Services Ltd instigated the up-date as the development had achieved the 20 years of age when the WCS/Fire Systems become obsolete according to Peverel Retirement?

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    Well done you, Alex Ellison,
    You are an inspiration to us all. It is my privilege to be associated with honourable people such as yourself.

  3. Michael Hollands says:

    Has any Leaseholder yet made a complaint to ARMA about the price fixing.

    • Michael Epstein says:

      I believe ARMA ruled that the price fixing was carried out by Cirrus, who though part of the Peverel group, were technically not members so they felt unable to act over the price fixing.

      • Michael,

        The Price Fixing was instigated by Peverel Management Services Ltd as it shows on the Tender Documents that was finally sent to me last year.

        Chris Owens refuses to send the Signed Contract Documents for the up-grade of the Warden Call System Copy as the contract was probably never completed or signed.

        The few documents I have, show a dummy pre-contract meeting that no names of attendees’.

        Other documents are incomplete, not dated and the Tender was 2 weeks past the cut off period, so was automatically disqualified.

        The actual tenders figures were incomplete, late and £1,000 was added to the final figure which is not clear where it came from.

        I have assessed that the £1,000 was added into the Contract as a Contingency Sum, but then VAT was added, which is not normal how contracts are undertaken.

        The works were then sub-contracted to the disgraced contractor Glyn Jackson who was finned £37,000 for his part in the Price Fixing.

        So is Peverel Group or FirstPort or any other Peverel Company fit to join an organisation such as ARMA-Q: I THINK NOT.

  4. Alex,

    I believe that you have found an answer to many problems, as I have never contacted ARMA but I will now, excellent, excellent.

  5. It would be extremely useful to have the paperwork of other sales of house managers’ flats at other sites.

    Has Peverel elsewhere again made the error of claiming that it is selling a flat supposedly belonging to freeholder (ie Proxima or Fairhold) when, in fact, it owns the flat itself?

    Please private message admin@Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation.org.uk

  6. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation

    I have sent an email to ARMA condemning the possible admittance of Peverel Retirement/First Port to ARMA-Q.

    Peverel Retirement have shown over the past years that they cannot be trusted to provide a Professional Management with the existing Principle/Senior Management.

    The Corporate Crap that is provided by Chris Owens has been sussed by most residents and he no longer responds as he has run out of ideas of how he can answer different questions with the same answers.

    Janet Entwistle has now sussed out those employees who were in management positions at Peverel Management Services Ltd and Cirrus Communication during the Price Fixing, who when I asked our Area Manager he stated “NOT ME GOV” I knew nothing about the Regional Managers/Technical Officers, who worked at Peverel Management Services and Cirrus Communications and were responsible for running the 65 Contracts that were Price Fixed.

    I have sent an email to Janet Entwistle stating that we at Ashbrook Court were Price Fixed as she suggested we do if we believed that we were part of the Price Fixing, 3 months not a word from our Janet.

    Is Janet Entwistle really stating that the Regional/Area Managers/Technical Officers like our Area Manager did not know what was happening when Cirrus Communication was winning every contract that was put out to Tender from 2005 to 2009, what does that tell you about these Senior Managers, that should have been aware that some thing was wrong.

    I have never known a Company as unprofessional as Peverel Retirement whose Senior Manager were so ignorant of truth and facts, time after time, after time, after time. etc.

  7. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation another comment has disappeared?

  8. Michael Epstein says:

    How ironic!
    In his speech to ARMA in October 2013, Keith Hill states that ARMA is not intended to be the “First Port” of call for complaints. Perhaps that explains why Peverel re-branded themselves FirstPort?
    Interestingly , Keith Hill also states that he prefers “improvement rather than sanction” for failing companies.
    I also note that ARMA refer to investigating companies for breaking “contractual terms of membership”
    This is a lovely escape clause. If a property management company has cheated a leaseholder (as was the case in the collusive tendering fraud), if it wasn’t the actual company that has a membership contract with ARMA, they are likely to get away with it.

  9. Michael,

    Do we know which Peverel Name is registered at ARMA?

  10. Michael Epstein says:

    Chas,
    Thus far i have found Consort Property Management (a bit odd as officially they are listed as a dormant company) OM Property Management and Pembertons Residential.

  11. Michael, How can we find out who are the companies that are registered with these poor organisations?

    None of these have Peverel in their company name so who is the Peverel that pays the fees to ARMA?

    • Further to the ARMA, ARMA – Q comments I would like to add the comment below which was taken from About Peverel Website:-

      In a development that must be of great embarrassment for the Elderly Accommodation Council (which shares an office with the struggling and discredited ARHM), it would appear that the Guest of Honour at the EAC Awards ceremony, who extolled the virtues of retirement development living [REDACTED …]

      What if any links do ARMA and ARHM have in common?

      Is it true that no Peverel Company is a member of ARMA and that Peverel Companies are members of ARHM?

      Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation says: No, several Peverel companies are members of ARMA and have been for years: OM, Solitaire, Pembertons etc,

  12. Another short comment disappeared???

    • Correct. Your message did not appear and went into the spam folder. No idea why after all these comments from you that it does this.

      Very annoying.

      However, your comment is potentially highly libellous, and although approved, it has been rigorously redacted.

      Private message me about all this.

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