August 13, 2022

RTM: Touting for business (again)

LKP has been contacted by a number RTM sites worried about a letter which ominously warns “URGENT- YOUR RTM COMPANY MAY BE ILLEGAL”.

If you have had one of these letters it may also warn in capital letters your RTM should “ACT NOW”. LKP would suggest you act with caution.

Quoting some case and suggesting this could make your site “illegal” without specialist legal advice is at best speculative. There have certainly not been any official statements to suggest your RTM “has ceased to have effect”

Anyone worried by this sort of letter may be better advised to take legal advice or phone or write to the government funded body LEASE who can give impartial information about the relevant legislation. You site could also consider joining the Federation of Private Residents Associations who offer their members free legal advice and who may well be advising their members on this letter very soon.

http://www.lease-advice.org/

http://www.fpra.org.uk/

You could even phone the government department (DCLG) which looks after leasehold issues and ask them for their opinion. DCLG’s main reception number is 030 3444 0000

If you do want to speak to the company sending the letter you might ask: Are you legally qualified or regulated in any way? Where is your legal opinion which suggests my type of site may be “illegal” and is this advice from specialist barrister or solicitor?

Comments

  1. Lesley Newnham says

    Please STOP maligning the RTMF. Whatever your differences they appear to be personal and are not helpful to us as leaseholders. I can only speak from experience and that is the RTMF helped us attain RTM which now after 5 years hard work and NO PAY has given us properties easy to sell at market value because they are well managed, well maintained and all within service charge budgets. NO HIDDEN EXTRAS!! We are therefore not about to hand this back to the landlord and HIS agent because of some nit-picking law, so any help to prevent this if needed will be much appreciated.

    I have contacted LEASE to ask what help they could give but again my experience in the past of both LEASE and the FPRA is they advise getting legal advise!!!
    I rest my case

    • In answer to Lesley, my differences with Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation/LKP are not personal but they are shaped by personal experience. I was working with Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation/LKP long before Sebastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd became involved. RTMF supported Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation financially in the early days when it was figure-headed by Melissa Briggs. We sponsored most Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation events. I was invited to become a co-shareholder in LKP along with solicitor Margarita Mossop, who was previously with LEASE and now works with RTMF. We both turned it down because we did not agree with LKP’s policies and in particular because Melissa Briggs wanted the RTMF to contribute a substantial part of its income to finance LKP and wanted Margarita Mossop to work for LKP for free. These proposals were unrealistic. Melissa Briggs subsequently walked away from both Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and LKP and effectively dumped it on me and Margarita. Neither of us wanted to run a pressure group so all we could do was keep it on ice. Around this time Melissa entered into an agreement with Sebastian and later with Martin Boyd and the three of them now own LKP.

      My relationship with Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation/LKP has deteriorated because I have been outspoken in my criticism of their continued unbalanced and sensationalised reporting of leasehold issues. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation/LKP want to see an end to Leasehold in favour of Commonhold. I believe this is now wishful thinking and in any event can do nothing to help the 4 million leasehold owners or 500,000 elderly flat owners who need advice now. I have made my views known to Sabastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd and I would welcome a public debate with them on the relative merits of Leasehold and Commonhold. Unfortunately I believe they see the RTMF and The Leaseholder Association as a threat to their own ambitions. I believe Leaseholders young and old want practical, positive solutions now. That is what the RTMF and the Leaseholder Association seek to provide.

      • As part of LKP’s policy of letting everyone post we have not edited Dudleys latest post. However, some may regard a number of his comments as delusional

        It is nice to get his real views into the open at long last. I do not remember if Dudley attended the meeting on Commohold that took place at the Houses of Parliament last year if he did he chose not to speak. On the basis that LKP is allowed to chair the all partly meetings on leasehold it would seem some accept we are a little less sensationalist that Mr Joiner believes.

      • Melissa Briggs says

        As the original founder of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation I would like to correct some of the inaccurate and offensive statements made by Dudley Joiner.
         
        1.  Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation was not financed by anyone other than its supporters and, in particular, was not financed by Mr Joiner or any of his companies.  I used my own money to help create the campaign, and a huge amount of my time, as has Sebastian O’Kelly, who took over in April 2012.
         
        2.  Mr Joiner and his companies did not sponsor our events.  He was invited to speak and present right to manage as a concept at a number of meetings in 2009 – 2010. Attendees at those meetings paid a small fee which covered the minimal costs for running the event. Mr Joiner certainly did not pay for the benefit of selling his services. It was only in what turned out to be the final regional meeting in March 2010 that we agreed to split some of the costs with Mr Joiner. He agreed to pay for the catering element of the Surbiton meeting, while we paid for the venue hire. He initially did not make the payment to the venue which was exceedingly embarrassing and it took some weeks before they were paid.
         
        3. At one stage, Mr Joiner did agree to pay me as an individual a percentage of the fees from RTM blocks that I helped him to obtain, but after one small payment, he defaulted on that too and I never recovered any further monies. Just to be clear he also never made any payment to Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation or LKP. 
         
        4.  Mr Joiner was also never offered a shareholding in LKP and there was never any discussion re finance. After I had two preliminary discussions with Mr Joiner he was negative about the outline concept of the work I wanted to do via LKP so I did not pursue the matter with him.

        5.  When I became ill, I asked Mr. Joiner to help by putting up the occasional website post but he was never asked to run the campaign as he now claims.  Giving him the administrator details to the website, which are basically the keys, turned out to be an enormous mistake. He then refused to post, changed the password, and would not return the site when asked to do so. Despite numerous requests from all the other committee members, he would not hand back the site or post any information and the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation web site was not updated for nearly six months. No reason for this was ever forthcoming.

        6. It is also untrue to say that these events took place before Martin and Sebastian became involved. Martin had for some time been assisting behind the scenes while he fought his own battles with the Tchenguiz group and Sebastian had written a number of articles in the national press. The website only came back to life when Sebastian created a new Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation.co site and began to post again. A considerable time later Mr Joiner grudgingly returned control of the original Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation domain name after it became clear we would continue despite his actions.
         
        7. I remain immensely proud of our efforts over the years. It was owing to the efforts of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation that the government investigated exit fees, and forced the OFT investigation into collusive tendering in the retirement sector. Sebastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd’s work continues and has now gone on to produce the investigation into property management and a law commission project to change the law on exit fees. LKP has done the research that has seen the government finally accept that leasehold is a much bigger sector of the property market than it previously thought. LKP is also now a REGISTERED charity and continues to expose bad practice in the sector as well helping to educate and inform the sector. 

        It is the only group to challenge the biggest landlords and managing agents. It was the only group willing to tell government it had things wrong.  Many stories from the site have made their way into the national newspapers and have saved many leaseholders years of litigation or helped them fight for their case.
         
        LKP is now accepted as the only group with no financial motive to organise the parliamentary meetings on leasehold matters for the whole sector. These meetings allow everyone to engage in a constructive dialogue on how to improve some of the systems that have been broken for far too long.
         
        Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and LKP have many important things they need to do and I hope that readers will continue to support our work. There are still too many people who are keen for the sector to remain behind closed doors and for the status quo to prevail. There are certainly many who would rather we did not expose the sector’s bad practices and I sincerely hope that Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and LKP will continue to raise the legitimate concerns of all those living in leasehold property in the UK for many years to come.

        Melissa Briggs, November 2015

        • Michael Hollands says

          It is great to see Melissa back, I hope she is fully recovered. It must have been a great strain getting Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation started.
          But is is a pity to see this long term dispute still smouldering, especially when we all have the same long term aims.
          With regard to readers giving their long term support, this has become difficult with the recent demise of the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and LKP websites.
          However, I am sure there is good work going on that we do not get to hear about

        • Although I find it distasteful I feel bound to respond to the above comments of Melissa Briggs, which accuse me of making false statements.

          I stand by everything stated in my earlier post of November 7, which is factually correct. I have to assume that Melissa’s illness has caused her to forget the true course of events.

          RTMF did provide funding for Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation events. We paid Melissa Briggs all of the commission she was rightfully owed as per our agreement. As I recall one of the criticisms of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation was that its accounts were not certified or audited.

          Melissa is not correct when she says ‘I was never offered a shareholding in LKP and there was never any discussion re finance’.

          I refer Melissa to confidential documents drafted by her, the first dated December 15, 2010 entitled ‘First draft of strategy/business plan ideas for the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership/Limited Company’ and a second draft of this document dated January 3, 2011. The first paragraph of both documents starts with the statement “The business will have three directors, who will have equal shares/responsibility for the financial revenue/profit/running of the business, M1, M3, and D1. It is clearly evident from the document itself that D1 was me. M1 was Melissa and M3 was Margarita Mossop, solicitor.

          The activities envisaged in this business plan included right to manage services, enfranchisement, lease extensions and legal surgeries. The document also proposed that LKP would engage in the design of leasehold developments and ultimately own its own development company to become a ‘much better outfit then McCarthy and Stone’. The proposed business plan anticipated that the RTMF would contribute about £300,000 to fund LKP in 2011.

          As stated in my earlier post I did not believe in the strategy and was not prepared to divert monies needed within RTMF to fund what I believe to be a very fanciful business plan.

          I am sorry this has created resentment and it has obviously resulted in our going our separate ways.

        • Lesley Newnham says

          Dear Melissa,

          I agree with Michael Hollands it is good to have you back. However it would seem I have stirred up something of a hornets nest with my original comments which was certainly not my intention and for that I am sorry, as again like Michael I find it sad to see this dispute being aired in public.

          I feel somewhat of a ‘piggy in the middle’ as I am personally grateful to both you Melissa for bringing all of these leasehold issues out into the open but equally to Dudley and Nick for helping us to gain control of the purse strings at our homes through the RTM process.

  2. Lesley,

    Unlike many sites we allow everyone to comment including those who want to criticise what we do. Can I make clear we did not “malign” the RTMF – we did not even mention their name. You may choose to consider, or it may have been suggested to you, our recent criticism of Mr Joiner is somehow personal but that is not the way we work. As a charity we also fall under very stringent obligations about what we do and say.

    My view was the letter was ill advised in a number of the terms it used seemed designed to scaremonger. Complaints about the letter had been raised with us by a number of RTM companies who felt the language inappropriate those complaints had mounted over the last two weeks.

    We would be more than happy to post what ever advice the land registry lawyer has given or indeed any other legal opinion on how multi block RTM’s might act following the Court of Appeal case. The issue of course has no relevance to single block sites who may also have had a letter.

    • Lesley Newnham says

      Martin

      I am not sure who you think may have ‘suggested ‘ anything to me but I can assure you my comments are always made from my own personal experience, observations,research or opinion and not someone else’s suggestions or hear-say.

      It was the wording of the headline and the tone of your article that upset me as I do believe that Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation/LKP and the RTMF are the only people today truly and solely trying to help leaseholders. All the other bodies or organizations hold their cosy conferences every year, often sponsored by people with a vested interest, even award themselves prizes for how well THEY think they have done but have very little to do with helping us!!

      We all have the’ freedom to choose’ whether we wish to use the services of the RTMF or not but surely to be forewarned is to be forearmed as the saying goes so I am grateful someone takes this seriously and is trying to do something practical. I can confirm that LEASE can only give advice and not help and suspect the same will be true of the FPRA.

  3. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation omits to mention that the letter referred to is being circulated by the Right to Manage Federation (RTMF) which has helped over 7,500 properties acquire RTM.

    The RTMF has acted responsibly, devoting adequate time to devise a strategy to protect leaseholders from the impact of the Court of Appeal decision known as Triplerose. Our record speaks for itself. Our experienced legal team has acquired an enviable reputation for championing the rights of leaseholders in battles with obstructive landlords. Our solicitor is well qualified having spent the last 4 years winning RTM cases in the Tribunals and for 6 previous years was a legal adviser for the government organization LEASE.

    The RTMF has come up with a positive course of action for RTM companies affected by Triplerose. Is it not commendable to inform leaseholders about the law and prepare them for the consequences?

    Disingenuously, Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation neglects to say that on 30th March 2015 it posted its own report of the Triplerose decision headed ‘Court of Appeal throws Right to Manage law into chaos’. Some might consider that headline scaremongering. The article stated the following: –

    “Right to manage legislation is in chaos following Friday’s Court of Appeal decision to prevent RTM companies from managing more than one building at a site. The decision drives a hole through current RTM legislation and, in LKP’s view, can only be addressed with primary legislation. It means that any detached buildings on a site cannot be managed by the same RTM company.”

    As a consequence of this Court of Appeal decision, which reverses the earlier interpretation of the law and applies retrospectively, any RTM Company managing multiple blocks is now doing so without any legal authority.
    There is nothing speculative about this. It was recently confirmed to us by the Land Registry Lawyer, who has expressly stated that the Land Registry will no longer accept the registration of RTM companies managing multiple blocks regardless of whether RTM was acquired before or after the Court of Appeal decision.

    Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation suggests leaseholders may be “better advised” to seek advice elsewhere yet a year ago it recommended our services to an estate that had failed to get RTM using a reputable firm of solicitors (incurring £42,000 in costs) and was desperate for help. RTMF successfully acquired RTM for the leaseholders without them paying any fees or costs. In its article posted on October 2nd 2014 LKP reported the following: –

    “LKP advised the residents to use the services of the Right To Manage Federation, headed by Dudley Joiner. It has taken around 250 blocks to right to manage, including more than 70 retirement blocks, and has successfully fought against freeholders using every legal stratagem to hold on to the property management.”

    [ … REDACTED]

    The article recommends contacting the Department of Communities & Local Government. DCLG has confirmed to us in writing that it does not give advice. The article recommends contacting the Federation of Private Residents Associations. The chairman of the FPRA has confirmed that the FPRA can only give advice to its small number of members. The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) has not made any public statement on the issue other that to suggest we must wait and see.

    We are now offering our knowledge and experience to help all RTM companies affected by the ‘Triplerose’ decision. We stand by the advice in our letter. Taking precautionary action is better than doing nothing. If you are unsure of our credentials read the testimonials on our website. You will see that we get results.

    I invite anyone concerned about this to contact the RTMF to discuss how RTM companies should react to the retrospective effect of Triplerose.

  4. Thank you for your comment Lesley.

    • The letter sent out by RTMF is indeed very frightening and urges the RTM directors to “ACT NOW”. It states that some landlords are dissolving RTM companies, without actually offering any evidence. Yet this sense of urgency is somewhat contradicted by the fact these letters are being sent out over a long period. I have two in my possession that are dated three weeks apart. It is clear the RTMF are doing a trawl of all the RTM developments via companies house and then sending out these letters in batches. And their targeting is not very accurate as the ones I have seen are for single blocks. It must be costing them a fortune in postage.

      I was interested in Dudley Joiner’s comment that:

      It was recently confirmed to us by the Land Registry Lawyer, who has expressly stated that the Land Registry will no longer accept the registration of RTM companies managing multiple blocks regardless of whether RTM was acquired before or after the Court of Appeal decision.

      As far as I am aware registration of the RTM company against the freehold title is an option and not mandatory and not all RTM companies do this. It does not confer any extra rights on the RTM company, but simply makes other parties aware the company exists and I think Dudley is giving this statement more weight than it deserves, perhaps to frighten people. I am also puzzled as to how the land registry would know the RTM Company manages multiple blocks. This would not be clear from the information you have to send to the land registry. As Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation states, could we please have a copy of the advice from the Land Registry? Or is this just smoke and mirrors?

      Dudley Joiner is of course a great self publicist and is not at all modest about his achievements, which have been considerable, but he also needs to make money and I think part of this campaign is motivated by his desire to promote his pet project the “Federation” (sounds like something out of star wars, presumably because the RTMF has stellar ambitions!) It is telling that there is a prominent post script to his letter urging RTM companies to join. By the way Dudley how is the Federation going? You launched it in fanfare of publicity in January, but your website states it is still “under development”. Will it see the light of day?

  5. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation says

    If your comment does not appear, it is most likely to have been treated as spam by our over-vigilant filters. Please email admin@Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation.org.uk and we will ensure the comment is published.

  6. Reply to Insider…

    It is correct that the RTMF is doing a phased mailshot to all RTM companies. There are practical limitations to the number of RTM companies that we can assist at any one time and spreading the mailings helps from an admin perspective.

    I think most property managers will understand the significance of the Land Registry’s statement. All the landlords management functions pass to the RTM Company. This includes giving the necessary certifications when a flat is sold or more correctly when a lease is assigned. This is to enable compliance with any restrictions on the title register and enable the sale to complete. The Land Registry Guide recommends registration of an RTM against the property title so that a solicitor making pre-sale enquiries can see immediately that there is an RTM Company and can then address enquires and seek certifications from the RTM Company and not the landlord.

    In light of Triplerose the Land Registry lawyer has rightly the view that an RTM Company managing multiple buildings is not, and never has been a legitimate RTM company. Any ‘pseudo’ RTM company in this position has no legal authority to perform management functions, including the giving of certifications to the purchaser of a leasehold flat in the relevant building. This situation if unresolved can effectively stall the resales of leasehold flats.

    The consequences of Triplerose have to be faced. It is not a case of ‘smoke and mirrors’. I don’t personally agree with the Triplerose decision, not because of the merits of the arguments put up by Justin Bates and Phillip Rainey, but because I think public policy should have taken precedence. In my view it is more important to have consistency in the law, even if it leaves a few minor anomalies. At the very least the lawyers could have sought a prospective overruling.

    In answer to the other points you raise, it is correct that the full functions of the Federation have taken longer to put into place. Although RTMF does not make profits for shareholders it is not a charity and never will be reliant on charitable contributions. It was set up on the principle that its services had to ‘wash its face’ and be commercially viable. If it had not been structured this way it would not have been able to help so many leaseholders acquire RTM and fight so many cases in the Tribunals.

    The time spent in developing RTM practice and understanding the post RTM issues that arise has helped us in our aspiration to have an operational Federation and provide a practical Code of Practice for RTM. I am sorry you think it is happening too slowly. It can’t be hurried and some of the fundamental legal issues are still being determined in the courts. Triplerose is just one example. Certain Landlords are fighting hard against RTM, which has made it more difficult. RTM is maturing but it does take time. Actually we didn’t launch it in a ‘fanfare of publicity’. I think you are confused about that. It is being done out of the glare of publicity and will remain that way. Getting it right is our priority.