August 8, 2022

Three MPs are patrons as Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation becomes registered charity

Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitationcharitySir Peter Bottomley, the Rt Hon Ed Davey and Jim Fitzpatrick have agreed to be patrons of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, which are now formally a charity and is in the process of obtaining recognition by the Charity Commission.

The involvement of the three MPs – one in the Cabinet and two ex-ministers – representing different political parties is a significant demonstration of commitment to reform residential leasehold tenure in England and Wales.

The aim of LKP / Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation is to help and inform leaseholders who get caught up in the purposefully obfuscated complexities of this flawed form of residential property tenure. It also seeks to obtain legislative and regulatory changes that will make life easier for these homeowners, who in law are merely tenants.

The achievement of charity status is the culmination of nearly six years of activity by Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, the Campaign Against Retirement Leasehold Exploitation.

The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, envisaged initially as an accreditation scheme for managing agents who share our values of fairness, has been in existence since January 2012.

The directors of the charity who are responsible for its day-to-day activities are: Sebastian O’Kelly, Martin Boyd and Melissa Briggs.

The three MPs have all been involved in high-level leasehold disputes and are frequently referred to on the LKP and Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation websites: www.leaseholdknowledge.com and www.betterretirementhousing.com.

Ed Davey, the LibDem MP for Kingston and Surbiton, hosted the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation mass meeting with MPs at Westminster in November 2009. He had already had some dealings with Peverel at a retirement site in his Surrey constituency and had raised the Peverel / Cirrus price-fixing scandal with authorities before Peverel “turned itself in” and therefore won leniency in December 2009.

Mr Davey has also been a supportive figure for residents at Charter Quay in Kingston to battle free from Peverel and the site’s head lease owner Vincent Tchenguiz.

More than £500,000 in overcharging has been won back by the residents and in the summer last year they bought the freehold. Mr Davey was present at the mass celebration and poured out glasses from a Nebuchadnezzar of champagne.

Sir Peter Bottomley, the long standing Conservative MP for Worthing West, became involved with LKP / Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation as elderly residents at Oakland Court, in his constituency, fought to reclaim £67,000 in overpaid charges.

These were for the notional rent on the house manager’s flat. Sir Peter obtained a pro bono – legalese for free – barrister for the pensioners, who went on to win the case.

The system-playing of the freeholders’ lawyers – including multiple attempts to delay the hearing – prompted Sir Peter to criticise their conduct in the Commons as “legal torture”.

He has since waded into numerous leasehold disputes, and it was thanks to Sir Peter that LKP managed to overturn the forfeiture of Dennis Jackson’s £800,000 flat at Plantation Wharf in Battersea.

Jim Fitzpatrick, a former Labour DCLG minister, has some of the richest and poorest leaseholders in the country in his Poplar and Limehouse constituency, in east London.

Mr Fitzpatrick has been a supportive figure in the disputes at the upmarket West India Quay, in Canary Wharf, and named a string of leasehold freeholders and managing agents in a debate in December 2013.

With a long standing interest in leasehold issues, Mr Fitzpatrick has raised the subject frequently in Parliament. He has also backed a number of LKP briefing meetings at Westminster and urged his party to take up the issue of leasehold reform.

The three directors of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP are Sebastian O’Kelly, Martin Boyd and Melissa Briggs.

A core activity is to maintain an authoritative editorial presence in the leasehold sector, which is the primary role of Sebastian O’Kelly, who was the property editor of the Mail on Sunday for 10 years.

All issues concerning leasehold need to be reported and brought to public attention – particularly to the attention of policy makers, civil servants and members of the property tribunals.

In a sector that trumpets transparency but practises the opposite, the taking up and publicising of individual cases can often lead to their resolution – and help others in the same position.

The ever-accumulating evidence of abusive practices will, eventually, lead to their elimination.

The editorial activities of LKP / Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation have resulted in two national press awards.

Martin Boyd is a leaseholder who was indignant about the management practices at Charter Quay. He set about making a forensic examination of how high-end residential leasehold works to the detriment of homeowners who do the paying.

Immersing himself in landlord and tenant law, he has appeared in the property tribunal on numerous occasions.

He was also responsible for analysing the number of private leasehold properties in England and Wales, which has seen the DCLG statisticians revise their total from 2.5 million to 4.1 million. This revision will have considerable influence on leasehold policy.

The third director of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP is Melissa Briggs, without whom these campaigns would not exist. Melissa was convinced that the death of her mother in a retirement leasehold property was brought about by anxiety at the ever increasing and inexplicable charges.

As a result, she took over the fledgling Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation campaign and, with the advantage of being an IT professional, set up the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation website which she ran for more than three years.

Her campaigning was reported in the national media on many occasions, and she even stood for Parliament on a platform of leasehold reform in Bognor Regis.

Melissa expended a vast amount of energy on this issue, visiting numerous retirement sites up and down the country.

Unfortunately, this took a toll and, owing to ill-health, she stood down from Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP in April 2012.

Fortunately, she is now fully recovered, and it is to be hoped that at some point in the future Melissa will return to a frontline role with the new charity. In the meanwhile, and owing to other pressing commitments such as earning a living, she will confine herself to being a director.

Comments

  1. Well done Sebastian, Martin and Melissa,

    I would also like to thank Sir Peter Bottomley, Ed Davey and, of course, Jim Fitzpatrick for their support.

    I have a meeting with my MP on Friday, where I will be asking for help to uncover the Collusive Tendering, Excessive Commissions, and Excessive Service Charges that we pay.

    I have asked Martin and Sebastian for help in this matter, so again well done all.

    • A Reviewer says

      Hi

      We should also thank the guys who set up PeverelAction and TTAS – The Truth About Solitaire – both of whom were hounded by Peverel.

      Happy Days

    • Following on from the meeting with my MP I uncovered this sent to me. I have used the Annex from the OFT to highlight the other fights us residents have to go through to get Janet Entwistle to answer emails sent to askjanetaquestion@peverel.

      This is similar to the document sent to me regarding the Cirrus Communication/Peverel Management Services Ltd Price Fixing at Peverel Retirement Developments. I have named certain Infringements and expanded to print the full names of the companies involved along with the initials.

      Annexe 2 – Extract from the OFT`s Decision – Paragraphs 5.8 & 5.9:

      During the course of the investigation, the OFT has also considered whether the Infringements (Price Fixing, Tender Rigging) where each company had as its object (1) the Prevention, Restriction, Distortion of Competition in the supply of Warden Call & Door Entry Systems including (2) Fire Detection and Fire Prevention Systems to Peverel Management Services Ltd (Now trading as Peverel Retirement) all were Retirement Developments in the UK.

      The OFT also considered whether the Infringements were wider than just the 65 developments that Peverel Group Ltd had owned up after Peverel/ Cirrus were outed in the press media in September 2009.

      The Decision of the OFT involved Collusive Tendering (Price Fixing) in relation to more of or all the Peverel Management Services Ltd (PMSL) contracts involving Cirrus Communications Systems Ltd (CCSL) and either Jackson, O`Rourke or Owens between 2005 & 2.006.

      Peverel Group Ltd (PGL) informed the OFT that, at least from late 2006, “it was of the view that there was Collusive Tendering in respect of every such contract” This would mean that a substantially larger number of the 65 bids would have been subject of Anti-Competitive behaviour (Price Fixing) than was found in the OFT Decision.

      The OFT goes on to say in respect of a number of the contracts falling outside of the Infringements, the OFT has decided that these other Infringements that Peverel Group has not owned up to, (Price Fixing) the OFT has decided that it is not an Administrative Priority to carry out further investigation. The OFT concluded that the scope of the Investigations should be confined to those contracts in respect of the evidence provided by Peverel Group that Cirrus did infact disclose its bids to Jackson, O`Rourke & Owens and they participated in the Collusive Tendering (Price Fixing).

      The OFT had considered whether the bidding process might have been corrupted some way by behaviour other than Collusive Tendering. To exclude that possibility, the OFT has included within the Infringement (Price Fixing) only those contracts in respect of which there is evidence that Cirrus did not act alone and Jackson, O`Rourke or Owens was contracted to participate. I have asked for names of the participator’s but the OFT informed me that under the Freedom of Information, the naming of these people, would not be In the Public Interest.

      This below is what Peverel had to say on the above:-

      6 December 2013

      Peverel Group statement in response to OFT decision

      Peverel Group has released the following statement in response to the decision announced by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) today that Cirrus, a Peverel Group company, breached competition law between 2005 and 2009 by collusive tendering in relation to the supply and installation of certain access control and alarm systems to retirement properties:

      “We accept the findings and are very sorry for the failings identified by the OFT. These practices were totally unacceptable. They stopped in 2009 when Peverel Group brought the matter to the attention of the OFT and this is not how we do business today.

      We have cooperated fully throughout the investigation. “Peverel Group is under new management; our Code of Business Conduct outlines how we operate and supports the promises that we make in our Customer Charter. Peverel Group also supports the residential leasehold property management market study announced by the OFT this week.

      “Peverel Group has decided to make a goodwill payment to the developments affected of 10% of the price of any work resulting from the tenders.”
      Comments

      • Following on from Peverel’s continued failings I was able to check with my old Law Books and realised that our Area Managers continue to ignore the Social Contract, Implied Terms.

        When Peverel undertook working as our Managing Agent, it would also have taken the Social Contract part of Contract which is Implied?

        When Peverel Management Services Ltd undertook work as our Managing Agent it would also have under-taken the SOCIAL CONTRACT part of The Law of Contract with the aims being to provide a CONTRACT for SERVICES that was Expressed, and also Implied, within The Law of Contract.

        The SOCIAL CONTRACT is:-
        ” an unwritten tacit agreement that exist among the members of Retirement Developments and Managing Agents in a Contract for Services. This Social Contract also guides individual behaviour and establishes personal rights and responsibilities to the residents. The Social Contract is deemed essential for any Organised Professional Managing Agent”

        The CONTRACT for SERVICES that exists as Custom & Practice within the Law of Contract, both within Expressed & Implied Terms. As the wording states the Implied Terms are an understanding of what is required from an Area Manager in carrying out their duties, when spending Service Charges for works that are necessary and required.

        Example

        The Implied Terms of Area Managers is they will only undertake works that would be deemed necessary and required. This is a judgment call based on experience, qualifications and knowledge of a Development.

        The Area Manager when considering if works are to be carried out for the good of the Development should not be coerced to provide false information, to Residents, where Subsidiary Company, Cirrus Communications Systems Ltd, (CCSL) would be kept in work, by false information provided by Subsidiary Companies, such as CCSL who would benefit from false information stating the WCS was OBSOLETE as they knew they would be asked to Tender for the replacement.

        The replacement of the Warden Call System which was deemed as OBSOLETE by Cirrus Communication Systems Ltd, (CCSL) in 2006 (no written report available as would be expected from a Trained, Qualified, Area Manager)

        In 2006 Peverel Management Services Ltd asked CCSL to provide Two Options for the replacement of the WCS:
        1) straight replacement with similar £15,600

        2) up-dated more expensive system £21,500

        A Storm damaged the WCS on 20/06/2007 making the system unusable. Cirrus was to benefit from the decision as some 5 months later they were one of two Contractors, asked to tender for the replacement after the Storm.

        The other tenderer was a Bogus Contractor, who was at the same time, already involved in the Price Fixing, of 65 Retirement Developments (admitted by Peverel to the OFT in 2009/10) belonging to Peverel with two other Bogus Contractors O`Rourke and Owens, who between them made £1.4 million, out of Retired Pensioners.

        We as Pensioners are seen as Easy Pickings, as 90/95% of Residents show no concern at all over the Income & Expenditure Accounts that we receive undated each year. They are being ripped off by the Managing Agents, as they are seen as Easy Pickings, only 1 in 10 show any concern.

        The Social Contract has the Implied Duty by Area Managers that they Record the Day to Day activities that spend our money so that a Paper Chase would allow us Residents to follow the decisions made from Inception to Completion.

        It is very sad to say that our Area Manager, failed time after time to produce Written Reports for works that were necessary and required. Our Area Manager, spent thousands of pounds of our money with no Written Reports showing why works were necessary or Required, as Implied in any Contract for Services.

        It seems that our Area Manager Unilaterally decided that the Implied Terms of the Contract for Services and the Implied Terms of the Social Contract, were un-necessary, and not part of his Remit?

        WHY, WHY WHY has he been allowed to continue, when Peter Whalley, had to move on?

    • This is how Peverel Retirement continues to confuse us.

      The abuse of leaseholders, and the complex financial instruments deployed between companies and lenders, such that a leaseholder does not know who their freeholder really is?

      This was posted by Michael Epstein and I thought this is exactly how it is.

      I received a letter from Peverel Group on the 12/11/14 regarding Ground Rent.

      * Envelope was from Peverel Group; 11 Queensway.
      * Demand from Peverel Retirement, same address.
      * Payment to be made to Peverel Management Services Ltd, same address.
      * Notice Given by Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd, same address.
      * For on behalf of the Freeholder who is???

      I have been informed that our Freeholder sold Ashbrook Court on the 31/11/14 and the Demand covers 24/12/14 to 24/06/15.

      Who is to receive the Ground Rent and will the new Freeholder want a Company like Peverel Services Ltd to be involved, would you???

      Reply

      • Michael Epstein says

        Chas,
        It appears you have received a ground rent demand on behalf of Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd, on the assumption that Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd are the freeholder (which as you say may not be the case) and on the assumption that a payment made to Peverel Management Services will be forwarded to Meridian Retirement Housing services Ltd.
        And yet, Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd are listed as a “Dormant Company”
        How may i ask can it be possible for a dormant company to be trading (which a demand for ground rent is)?

        • Michael,

          Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd have a 125 year Head Lease as our Lessor/Landlord and they are a subsidiary of Peverel Services Ltd (I believe the 22 other subsidiaries are known as The Peverel Group).

          Our Freeholder is/was Mercian Site Equipment Ltd who became, Mercian Properties Ltd (Mercian Development Ltd) built as a Warden Controlled Development for Spiral Housing Management Ltd.

          In December 1987 ( Mercian Site Equipment Ltd) who were the original developers let an Under Lease to Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd and the at the same time to 28 Leaseholders.

          Peverel Services Ltd purchased Meridian Retirement Housing Services Ltd and became the Landlord and the Managing Agent.

          The Peverel Group (Peverel Retirement) treat us if we were simply Tenants, and they are the Master and we Leaseholders as the Servants.

          Peverel Retirement charge us for everything, we are paying for the following in this years Trial Balance:
          Training of the House Manager during the period from 16/12/2013 to 31/03/20 a 15 week period the salary for 15 weeks should have been £1654.62.

          We paid out under two headings 1200: Staff Employment and 1210: Relief & Deputy:

          1200: Staff Employment £2,097.30
          1210: Relief & Deputy £391.45

          So for 15 weeks work we paid £2,488.75 instead of £1,654.62.

          This means that we paid £834.13 for Training Costs??? yet the Trainers are Peverel House Managers who are already paid a salary???

          We also paid out £290.34 for a SMA Smart Call Pendant for a new Resident yet we had already paid for the Pendant?

          We also paid Travel Expense for A Travel Time Charge Order with no name or company mentioned???

          I have other checks to make yet but these stick out as Glaring, no wonder it took a month for Peverel Retirement to deliver the Expenses File?

  2. Michael Hollands says

    Congratulations to Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation three directors and thanks to the three MP’s.
    Pleased to hear that Melissa is back and in good health.

  3. Alex Ellison says

    This is great news and real recognition of what Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation has achieved. Well done to you all. Perhaps all those leaseholders who follow the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation website should copy this article and display it prominently on the residents’ noticeboard.

  4. Michael Epstein says

    The scourge of Peverel formally gives his accreditation to the new charity.
    Very well done. It is a fantastic achievement. It will send shock waves through the entire Freehold/ Leasehold/Managing agent sector.
    That such is the extent of the exploitation of leaseholders by a number of freeholders/managing agents a charity has to be set up to defend the vulnerable leaseholders is proof enough that the leaeehold system is not fit for purpose (unless that purpose is to cheat innocent people)

  5. Great News. Very best wishes for a speedy and successful outcome.

    Absolutely delighted to hear that Melissa is back to good health.

  6. Fantastic news congratulations to ALL involved, i am sure all of the leaseholders (my self included) will be deeply appreciative of everything that is being done.
    Than you.

  7. Our thanks and appreciation should also go to those who are no longer with us Don Heady, D Jones and many others whose names I can’t remember. Also Ken Kilmister , Don Houston, Stan Hodges who supported Melissa with the wonderful publicity she managed in the early days and has got the recognition Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation/LKP has.

  8. Peter Penberthy says

    Congratulations Sebastian, Martin & Melissa,

    … and to the 3 supporting Members of Parliament!

    We are delighted to learn of your new charitable status and to wish you every success with recognition by the Charities Commission. Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation & LKP have provided much very positive support for our elderly residents and our Residents’ Association. We are also most grateful to have the excellent support of our local MP Conor Burns and his tireless senior caseworker, Jeanne, and they are both fully aware of the support Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation have provided.

    As a result of such positive support from Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, LKP and Conor Burns, MP, we are now well advanced with our application for a right to manage application. Other Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation supporters, Val Wright and John Fenwick, have been equally tireless in helping us see light at the end of a very dark leasehold tunnel, hampered by the bureaucracy of totally unregulated Housing Associations … we are so grateful to Val and John, as well.

    Once again, this is very, very good news for the future security of the elderly …

    • On behalf of my mother, and other elderly residents at Hall Mews, we also offer our congratulations and thanks for your help. I would be interested to hear of Peter Pemberthy’s experience with totally un-regulated Housing Associations.

      • Lin,

        I would be more than pleased to speak with you regarding how we all feel that there is currently insufficient control and adequate monitoring of how Housing Associations manage vast and seemingly excessive service charges in achieving very little for elderly and frail leaseholders, or tenants.

        Thanks to the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation website we learned that ‘shared ownership schemes’ such as ours (70/30% – Leasehold Scheme for the Elderly) can now successfully apply for RTM. We now have the required membership of our RTM company to enable us to secure our own managing agent, freeing us from the burdens of Hanover Housing Association. We have to say that Hanover have been very fair, so far, in supporting our move for RTM, unlike some other Housing Associations.

  9. Excellent move and I hope everyone can ask their local MP to give full support ..

  10. Congratulations to all of you for achieving this significant next step in the fight for leasehold reform!
    And thank you for all your tireless work.

  11. John Fenwick (ex Oakland Court) says

    The support of three distinguished and influential MPs from the main political parties as patrons of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP and its now charitable status is hugely significant and can only advance the cause for leasehold reform and the elimination of exploitation. All power to everyone involved in this great step forward and many thanks for all the support you provide to leaseholders struggling against the odds.

    I am personally and permanently indebted to Sir Peter Bottomley for his instant recognition of the justice of our case at Oakland Court and every way in which he was effective in securing for us legal representation and ultimately for his intervention following the tribunal’s decision leading to a settlement ‘out of court’ amounting to more than full repayment of sums unlawfully claimed from the surviving leaseholders over many years.

  12. Anne Curran says

    I write to you from Homefarris House in Shaftesbury SP7 8AU. The residents here had a meeting with the Area Manager – Mary Foster- on Thursday 20 Nov to discuss our disapproval of their proposed internal structural work. After a considerable amount of correspondence and the meeting they (FirstPost/Peverel) backed down. However what we did want was a RAMP at the back door of the premises. There are two dangerous steps outside and they pose an accident waiting to happen. They sought quotes for a ramp and presented us with the quote for £4,400. There were two others, one in excess of £5,000 and the other less than £3,000, On behalf of the residents I asked for the name of the firms who quoted and was only given the names of the £5K and the £4K+ the cheapest one was not mentioned. The residents turned down the £4,400 quote as we felt it to be too expensive, so the ramp will not be built. At the meeting Ms Foster said that the cheapest quote was not mentioned as it was not a “like-for-like” quote (whatever that means) and that the man did not want the job anyway.

    I tend to mistrust that answer, and for good reason. Early in 2013 the Council introduced a new system of refuse collection involving “wheely bins”. The Manageress here informed several of us in the vicinity at the time that “the council had said that the refuse room would have to be refurbished and a ramp installed outside and a new door put in and THE RESIDENTS WOULD HAVE TO PAY”.

    I was incensed at this and said that I would write to the MP about this. So I did. Mr Robert Walters MP for Shaftesbury. He wrote to the Chief Executive of North Dorset District Council who responded to him and to me (for the info of other residents) That the North Dorset District Council had issued no such directive nor had the contractors whom they employed to handle the contract for refuse collection.

    However, the work was done and we the residents had to pay. There was no prior consultation.

    I feel I must say that the steps at the back door of the premises are dangerous and a fall from them could cause someone to loose their life.

    Anne Curran (for residents at HomeFarris House Shaftesbury SP7 8AU

  13. Michael Epstein says

    Anne Curran,
    Your situation is so very typical of Peverel (FirstPort).
    Fortunately, there is something you can do.
    Contact your local paper, explain the situation and see if publicity shames Peverel into acting. in a similar case an MP forced them to build a ramp. possibly insert an ad in the local paper inviting a local tradesman to tender for the job. From your description i bet it could be done for under £1,500.
    Regarding the work done on your bin area, demand repayment and if this is not forthcoming take the matter to the Small Claims Court, where you will win. It is a very simple process, very effective and very inexpensive.
    Peverel usually back down, rather than lose in court.

  14. Anne Curran says

    Dear Mr Epstein

    Thank you for your advice. Is it possible for me to go directly to our MP

  15. Anne Curran says

    I have decided to go for it and see what ensues. Our MP the right honourable Robert Walters was very helpful then and thanks to his handling of the matter we got to the truth of the matter. But sadly the work had then been carried out. By the way a claim in the small claims court would incur costs of the court as I think the total cost of the refurbishment was less than £5,000. I am trying to do whatever I can at NO costs to us.

    I am now about to e-mail him. Wish me luck.

    Thanks for your support and advice.

    Anne Curran