June 17, 2024

Peverel response to £70,000 fire safety overhaul at Homepine House

Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation received the following email from a reader (name withheld), and Peverel’s explanation. It appears the site requires re-wiring:

My mother has recently bought  retirement flat in Homepine House, Folkestone.  The managing agents, Peverel, have just sent out a Notice to All Residents setting out their intention to install fire alarms in every flat, 136 in all, despite the fact that the local fire brigade said that the existing system which is only 4 years old is adequate.  The building was built around 20 years ago and all the flats are constructed of concrete.

The estimates for the work from contractors including Cirrus Communication which are part of the Peverel Group range from £58,000 to £70,000 plus their fee for overseeing of £5,690.39 inc vat.

The proposal was originally raised in November 2012 and there was a residents meeting at that time and the opinion stated by the local fire brigade was that it was not necessary as the existing system was perfectly adequate and that he was going to issue a report to Peverel stating this.

Many of the residents are over 80 and really do not need this disruption and additional financial burden.  I should be most grateful if you could give us some idea of what we need to do next.  I understand that the work could only be forced on the leaseholders if there had been a ‘strong recommendation’ from either the Block Policy Insurers’ Surveyor or the local fire brigade particularly as the existing system is only 4 years old which has not happened.

Peverel’s response

To be attributed to a Peverel Retirement spokesperson

An upgrade of the fire system is due at Homepine House to ensure the development complies with current fire safety regulations. This involves replacing allelectrical wiring throughout the development as well as the installation of new warden-call linked smoke detectors in every apartment.

An independent tendering process for the upgrade has been carried out with submissions made by three companies.

We work closely with the fire service who have agreed that the work is necessary to comply with fire regulations. We will shortly discuss the work required and tenders received at a meeting with all customers.



  1. A few things. Firstly, I would ask for a report from Peverel. Someone somewhere must have checked the wiring and produced a report. When they say “replace wiring” what do they mean? All communal electrical wiring. The wiring to the fire alarm systems? Was this picked up as part of the Fire Risk Assessment?

    Secondly, are wired smoke detectors the only option? You can now buy wireless smoke detectors (and indeed wireless fire systems) that link to the emergency call system. Has Peverel supplied a specification for residents to see?

    Thirdly, be wary of any quotes provided by Cirrus. They are an associate company of Peverel. As has been shown in Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation postings long ago, the tender process is not always transparent and it has been known for “tame” companies to be asked to quote in competition to Cirrus. Ask questions about the tender process.

    Fourthly, the supervision fee of £5,690 strikes me as a real rip off. I do not think this represents value for money for the capital sum involved. Presumably Peverel is paying this to a firm of surveyors, but what do they know about fire alarm systems? You would be well advised to keep an eye on how many hours the supervisor is on site. And don’t forget this is being paid in addition to Peverel’s own management fees.

    Ultimately, if there is a safety issue the work will have to be done. Peverel is very sensitive after the major fire they had two years ago. However, on a contract of this size, they should provide details and information to satisfy the residents and not simply rely on bland statements. They have promised a meeting and so go along and ask questions. See if you can get another opinion from a local fire servicing company perhaps.

  2. How can this site possibly need rewiring when the local fire authority have clearly said the present system is adequate and also advised Peverel to this effect? Prior to this recent advice from Peverel a substantial majority of all the Homepine House residents signed a petition making it very clear that, in the light of the local fire authority’s recommendation, they did not want the upgrade that Peverel were proposing.

    In addition, the local fire authority have made it clear that Peverel, or any of its contractors, had no right to enter the property of any leaseholder to perform this work without the consent of said leaseholder.

    It is abundantly clear there is absolutely no safety issue here at all. As usual Peverel simply want to make some money out of their long suffering residents. Having lost all their vast over-inflated insurance commission to the landlord Tchienquiz, how else are they going to balance their books?

  3. OMhostage says

    Peverel never earned the insurance commission. Mr Tchenguiz’s offshore bank accounts did. The requirement for Peverel to squeeze leaseholders even more arises in part from the separation of the property owning business (various freeholders) and the rest — the Propco and the Opco as Zolfo-Cooper called them. Either may be sold, or forced into administration, then the other could collapse. They are like two drunks holding each other up, trying to pick each other’s pockets. Both need money badly to service debts. Propco’s portfolio is overvalued and it cannot afford to lose its income from Opco, and Opco cannot afford to be let go and replaced with another, let’s call it Topco2. The pensioners are mere pawns in this game.

  4. Michael Epstein says

    Having had to previously attend a serious fire at another Peverel Retirement managed development, i would expect Kent Fire Brigade to err on the side of caution concerning all fire safety matters. They believe the current systems installed in Homepine House are perfectly adequate.
    Had this not been the case, questions would have to be asked about a management company that installs a fire protection system that is no longer adequate after just 4 years.
    That is a life span less than most smoke alarm batteries!
    Since Homepine House is used to extol the virtues of living in a Peverel Retirement development, it would be rather embarrassing for Peverel if the residents at Homepine House had to resort to an LVT or RTM over this issue.

  5. We had this situation 2 years ago when we were told that we needed the fire system replaced after a flood which damaged the fire control box in the foyer. Instead of just replacing the damaged box they said the whole system needed replacing. We did object but of course Peverel didn’t listen. It cost us a lot of money and the system has been troublesome ever since with false alarms happening frequently with no good reason. This final event prompted us to go ‘Right to Manage’ and things have improved greatly.
    Of course Cirrus was involved as a Peverel company. The whole tender process was farcical and we had an extra £5000 bill from Aedas who were supposedly project managers but we never saw.

  6. Michael Epstein says

    Take a lesson from we_left.
    As with what you are attempting at Homepine House you helped yourself to a nice little earner, you lost out in the end because as a result another development sacked you. When will you finally understand Peverel that residents will not put up with your grubby tricks any longer?

  7. Michael,

    Well said. Peverel just cannot seem to learn.!

    Will you kindly contact me direct, please. As there other matters I would like to discuss with you. Sebastian O’Kelly will give you my email address.