May 29, 2024

Sacked Peverel house manager went on spending spree … on flowers

Ashbrook Court in Church Stretton, where a sacked Peverel house manager went on a £3,600 spending spree

Ashbrook Court in Church Stretton, where a sacked Peverel house manager went on a £3,600 spending spree

A sacked Peverel house manager at a Shropshire retirement development went on a spending spree that will see the residents receive a £3,600 rebate on their service charges this August.

The live-in house manager at Ashbrook Court, in Church Stretton, spent the money on cut flowers and plant pots to decorate the premises.

“They all looked very nice for a while, and to start with the payments were approved by her managers,” says Charles Willis, a former building surveyor. “But then she just went overboard and the payments went completely over budget.”

Less of an adornment at the Peverel managed site was the fact that she had also rung up £637.20 on personal phone calls, included in the repayment to the residents.

The expenditure continued after the house manager, who left in August last year, was paid off until October. Relief managers were called in, with one coming in from 35 miles away at 40p a mile, there and back.

Chris Owens, head of Peverel customer relations, told Mr Willis last week: “We are in total agreement with each other that the previous house manager had not paid in full the costs of her private phone calls.”

He said the payment “is an entirely fair and appropriate amount for restitution of an indeterminate amount of personal calls made”.

In reference to Ashbrook Court’s expensive foray into an interior design make-over, Mr Owens added: “Whilst not directly connected, I think it is also worth noting the significant goodwill refund in relation to planters and pots, which you do not seem to be challenging.

“Taken together, I see these two payments of over £3000 in total forming a very generous and appropriate response to all of the issues raised in relation to the House Manager’s actions, for which I have already apologised on behalf of Peverel.”

Rather more seriously, Mr Willis is turning his attention to the insurance commissions paid to Peverel’s sister company Kingsborough, demanding a refund of £11,000.

Similar commissions have already been the subject of stinging Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decisions, such as at Strand Court (Search: Strand Court). They are also to be considered in an important LVT case in Kingston, Surrey, next month.

Here Mr Owens is altogether more guarded, wanting to know how Mr Willis has come up with his figures: “We can also then assess whatever other information you or we may need to be able to deal with this concern, which may of course take us a few days.”

Mr Owens adds the remark: “It is worth stating again that Peverel does not view that the commissions paid now or in the past have ever been excessive.”

This is flatly contradicted by Janet Entwistle, chief executive of Peverel, who said in June last year on her “Ask Janet” blog on the Peverel website:

“Historically, some insurance commissions have been too high. These were lowered a couple of years ago to a level I am comfortable with and that tribunals have deemed as reasonable.  We will certainly make the commissions we receive much more clear to our customers.”

Any residents in dispute over Kingsborough commissions should get in touch with Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and not attempt to resolve these potentially complex issues involving high sums of money with Peverel directly. They are issues for the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.


  1. From Fleeced 2

    In a letter sent to me last week by the Peverel Senior Area Manager I was told to make a complaint about the Kingsborough inflated commissions and re-evaluation to the Housing Ombudsman. I know an LVT is the normal route to obtain refunds so am I being misled? Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. Do not settle insurance disputes in the anonymous Housing Ombudsman schemes, which Janet Entwistle is very keen on. They should be settled in LVT, and the more cases on these outrageous charges the better. Please get in touch with Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation to discuss.

  3. fleeced2 says

    Anyone involved in a divorce case can take along a McKenzie Friend; the same principle and service should apply to most other types of cases.

  4. Hi Fleeced 2
    I have been informed that justice is better suited in the LVT. There is a replacement for the LVT due in May 2013 called the TPC
    Tribunal Procedures Committee.
    This is supposed to be more user friendly, the Ombudsman whilst has its merits, the new TPC should if the correct amount of homework is undertaken then this should be the choice.

  5. Hi Sebastian and Friends
    Noticed all comments made do not exactly relate to what Peverel has done in relation to sacked House Manager.

  6. Hi Sebastian
    If we are owed £2000 in refunds for unreasonable incurred expenses created by a Peverel House Manager that leaves us with a £2000 deficit and we are asked to pay each our share. We are then informed that if we do not pay within 21 days then we may be charged a £60 administration fee.
    The Banks were found guilty of these exorbitant charges and made to pay them back.
    Can Peverel make these seperate demands for a deficit that was not created by the residents?

  7. Sebastian Can Peverel charge VAT on Management Fees of 20% when they went into voluntary administration on 14/03/11 and then charge for the full 3 month period beginning from the 01/01/11. to the 31/03/11 even though they were only 17 days in the month and they are charging for 90 days.
    We have found an invoice on the expenses file that states that we at Ashbrook Court were owned by Peverel prior to administration.

  8. Chas Willis:

    1. You need to ask for a statement of the service charge account and check that a credit has been made to reflect a refund to each leaseholder.
    2. Not all “Peverel” Companies were placed in administration. Some of the subsidiary companies continue to operate .

    The leaseholders committee in your block should set up RTM company to replace Peverel and then most of your problems will go away.

    • Ollie Hi
      I have been trying to pin Peverel down as I am not sure that our Area Manager is an incompetent fool or just a regular Peverel Soldier who was sent to the front ill trained and without equipment to do his job properly.
      Our Area Manager has been with Peverel for I believe 13 years and his boss 11 years so I think they are entrenched in the organisation.
      We have asked for information regarding the refund but the management will only say that we will be refunded this year 2013. I think this alone tells you what Peverel are about. We know there is a £10,000.00 refund but when we are at the mercy of their Accounts Department who will have the full information in August 2013.
      2. We have learned today that we are still owned by Peverel Group and a Meridian Company are involved we now pay VAT as we are no longer part of the Peverel Group???
      Have we been conned as Peverel have not been truthful please help Ollie
      Thanking you in anticipation

      • Hi Chas ,
        1. If you are asking Peverel for latest statement, do it by writing and send by registered post to confirm the date of posting. Its no use asking verbally – no proof of asking if you need to go before the LVT . You can send a copy to your local MP if you expect to get the MP involved.
        2. You say “your flats are still owned by Peverel Group”. Did you buy a copy of the freehold title from Land Registry to check the name of the title holder and if any mortgage lender holds a charge over the property title ? I can’t check until you give the correct freeholder name.
        3. Has Meridian been appointed Managing Agent to manage the service charge account for your block ?
        If Meridian are charging fees totally over 77K pounds from many blocks, they would have to charge VAT like any other business.

  9. To find out which company owns the freehold title for your building, go to Land Registry Online and buy a copy of the freehold title for your post code address . It costs about 4 pds by credit card to download the information.

    To find out details of the freehold company , go to Companies House website and buy a copy the the latest annual company accounts. Cost 1 pd by credit card to download.

  10. Chas Willis,

    As you say in your post 12 March, 2013 that “if you do not pay within 21 days , you may be 60 pds administration fee.”

    Use that 60 pds per flat is enough to set up RTM and get another managing agent to replace Peverel for running your block.

  11. Sorry, meant to say ” you may be charged 60 pds administration fee”

  12. Hi Chas Willis and leaseholders ,
    I was trying to understand what Chas Willis’ Post dated 13 March meant in which he was saying that :
    “The Banks were found guilty of these exorbitant charges and made to pay them back”.

    Recently RBOS was fined £87.5 Mil & Barclays was fined £59.5 Mil by the SFA for LIBOR rigging. Are you reffering to these fines ?

    For your information, the financing of Peverel Group is :
    Electra Partners : £ 33 Mil
    Chamonix : £4 Mil
    Royal Bank of Scotland ( RBOS) : £25 Mil

    In your situation, the buildings insurance cover for your properties was arranged by Kingsborough and some leaseholders have found that a commission of 33% rate was taken during 2007-2008 period. . Since the commission was excessive and well above the norm rate for legitimate insurance brokers, and it taken without the consent of leaseholders, it may be a breach of the Fraud Act 2006.

    So what you need is “35 Retirement Blocks ” and their local MPs to make a “Joint Complaint” to the FSA ( or FSC) and SFO for
    1. Investigation of possible “insurance premium rigging” and fraud during the past 5 years .
    2. Objection to RBOS financing companies with a past track record of leasehold abuse

  13. 1. Thinking further about making complaint, can we muster leaseholder groups in 40 M&S retirement blocks and their local MPs to participate in making a complaint to FSC and SFO?

    2. The OFT has declared the “exit fee” to be an unfair contract term but Fairhold Homes Group refused to give up charging the exit fee. These Fairhold retirement homes are managed by Peverel which is partly financed by RBOS. which in turn is 83% financed by us “tax payers”. We don’t want the RBOS bank to be financing companies which enforce unfair business terms against us, the tax payers.
    Can we find enough active leaseholders groups to visit Central London once a month picket the RBOS bank for 1/2 day . There are approx 20 working days in a month so we need to muster 40 groups to picket the bank for 1/2 day each per month and to get their local MP to show support and photo in the natonal newspapers .

  14. Ollie
    The banks were made to pay back the charges for administration when charging £30 for a letter etc.
    We have been informed by Peverel that if we do not pay a paper deficit of less than £2000 between 28 residents £69.75 each we will be receive a £60 administration charge on top of the paper deficit.
    We have found over £2500 that was not reasonably spent by our sacked House Manager.
    Peverel have been informed that we did not have a deficit but a surplus. They will not refund the surplus monies before we pay the paper deficit that we as residents did not incur.
    They have also threatened a resident who is selling a flat after their mother passed away. They have stated that if the £69.75 is not paid then they will not allow monthly payments in future but they will have to pay the whole Service Fee in total this month as per the lease.
    The lease allows for monthly payments so it is an idle threat.