UPDATEDudley Joiner demands removal of Leaseholder Association leaflet published on LKP
Dudley Joiner, of the Leasehold Association, has insisted that the letter explaining the organisation be removed from the LKP website.
He claims it is a breach of copyright to reproduce the document, which was purportedly sent to all “invitees” – in fact, Martin Boyd was not sent a copy.
It was also circulated to MPs.
The copy reproduced on LKP was that sent to Sir Peter Bottomley as part of the Leasehold Association’s lobbying exercise of elected politicians.
There is a public interest defence in reproducing copyright material that is being used to sway public policy, as could be argued is the intention of Mr Joiner’s leaflet.
However, Mr Joiner has specifically requested that this document be removed from public view on LKP. We have no idea whether it will be published on the Leaseholder Association website.
Mr Joiner added that LKP could reproduce the photograph with an LA copyright line.
Mr Joiner suggests that he “probably” would have consented to publication of the photograph in the LA leaflet:
“subject to a credit and seeing the article and context [before publication].”
Last month saw the first stirrings of a new organisation: the Leaseholder Association, which is urging another confidential dispute resolution service as the cure-all for leasehold.
The Leasehold Association “has the potential to restore confidence in leasehold ownership”, it informed key “stakeholders” in the sector at a meeting in central London on November 18.
The initiative does not come from a representative group of leaseholders but from entrepreneur Dudley Joiner, founder of the Right To Manage Federation, which isn’t a federation but a commercial RTM facilitator, and owner of property management company Team.
The Leaseholder Association wants to educate leaseholders at £150 a head when they purchase their properties, and to provide a confidential mediation service to resolve disputes.
It is argued that there are 200,000 new leasehold property purchasers every year and “our target is to give them all the opportunity to join the LA.
“Potentially, within five years over one million leaseholders could be enjoying membership benefits for the lifetime of their property ownership.”
It would also mean the Leaseholder Association would have revenues of £150 million.
The leaseholders would join as individuals rather than collectively in a residents’ association that signs up to the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations, an organisation which is representative of leaseholders.
“Through early education leaseholders will become aware of their statutory rights, which should encourage more residents to join tenants’ associations and work together.”
Whether leaseholders really need to pay for this “education” is somewhat doubtful. Subject headings on the Leaseholder Association website briefings are remarkably similar to those found on LEASE and ARMA, where they can be obtained for free.
The cure-all of leaseholder education also makes LKP a little queasy.
The argument that leaseholders are basically ignorant of what they have bought, and that this is the source of unfortunate misunderstandings, has been repeated at virtually every occasion when the sector’s professionals meet.
But the observation is not usually accompanied by another of equal validity: that the leasehold sector is purposefully complex and obfuscated for the financial gain of those who operate within it.
There are also a number of issues that require urgent reform, such as these.
Plenty of wealthy, educated and otherwise well informed leasehold owners have fallen foul of the system; they simply have greater means to get out of a fix than poorer leaseholders.
The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership (which was invited, then disinvited and finally re-invited to Mr Joiner’s meeting; but unfortunately could not attend) has no issue with educating leaseholders.
But the sector does not require another confidential mediation / dispute resolution service.
Mediation in secret is a way of sweeping the ills of leasehold under the carpet.
Janet Entwistle of Peverel is a firm enthusiast, naturally enough, so long as it keeps disputes out of the property tribunal. On the other hand, she has rejected mediation, suggested here, to address Peverel’s compensation for pensioners cheated in the Cirrus price-fixing scandal.
The Leasehold Advisory Service, which ran an unsuccessful mediation service, also has spoken in favour of this gentle process.
More importantly, the property tribunal itself is seeking to expand its mediation services before disputes escalate to full hearings.
This is actually an encouraging and useful widening of its remit: mediation by the tribunal service is in a different league to other have-a-go efforts, and parties can always reject it and fight things out in a full hearing.
Then there is the fact that all managing agents have to be members of an ombudsman scheme. This is an initiative that came in this year thanks to former housing minister Mark Prisk, and is broadly to be welcomed, even though the rulings are not published.
No one seriously expects ombudsman schemes to make a huge difference, but they are fine for resolving sub £1,000 leasehold disputes.
Finally, there is ARMA, whose regulator is former Labour housing minister Keith Hill. His rulings are public and, as a result, have teeth, as we have already seen.
The mediation offered is much weaker.
Well, at least Mr Joiner is frank about who would most benefit from this.
Janet Entwistle could not have expressed the virtues of mediation more clearly.
Finally, Mr Joiner is seeking a “modest” 10,000 signed-up leaseholders in the first year, rising to 35 per cent of the 200,000 new leasehold sales in the next, or 70,000.
That would bring revenues of £10.5 million to the Leaseholder Association (a company limited by guarantee – ie no shareholders like the RTMF and, indeed, LKP).
It may be another hat for Mr Joiner, but if he pulls this off we will raise ours (and eat it).