Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP has no political affiliation, and our three MP patrons – Sir Peter Bottomley, Jim Fitzpatrick and Ed Davey – come from the three main political parties.
The below explains what they have done for leaseholders:
Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative) represents Worthing West, which has a high number of flats and retirement sites.
He became involved in leasehold issues following a dispute at a retirement site in his constituency where the residents wanted back tens of thousands of pounds of wrongly paid notional rent on the house manager’s flat dating back to the 1980s.
John Fenwick, a retired paralegal and resident at Oakland Court, prepared the case, and Sir Peter obtained a pro bono (ie free) barrister to take it on.
The residents won back £67,000, and more about it can be read here
Since then, Sir Peter has been closely involved in all the work of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation and LKP.
His involvement helped us:
Overturn the forfeiture of Dennis Jackson’s £800,000 flat in Battersea;
Blow the whistle on managing agent Benjamin Mire;
Shame leasehold game-players, including the lawyers, by naming them in the Commons;
Get exit fees considered by the Law Commission;
Hold meetings at the Commons for the leasehold sector and interested politicians;
On January 27 … secured us a meeting at Number Ten.
These efforts are on top of numerous interventions on behalf of individual leaseholders facing injustices.
The scamps who operate in the leasehold sector are often very shy, and quickly buckle before the inquiries of an MP who is quite happy to render them famous on the floor of the Commons.
Sir Peter has also been vital to seeing off mischievous efforts by freeholders and developers to call in M’ Learned Friends to bully or intimidate LKP / Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation.
Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour) is the MP for Poplar and Limehouse, and has some of the poorest and richest leaseholders in the country in his constituency. These range from leasehold flats in council sites to penthouses costing several million opposite the gleaming towers of Canary Wharf.
In all, 87 per cent of his constituents live in flats.
Only Mark Field, the MP for Westminster, has a higher number of leaseholders. Although not a leaseholder, Jim lives in an estate in a managed freehold property. So, he has some familiarity with the issues at first hand.
He hosted a number of meetings for Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation / LKP in the Commons, and ensured that we have had access to senior Opposition politicians including the shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds.
He has attended our meetings with the chief executive of Peverel, and wants to ensure that commonhold takes off as an alternative form of tenure to leasehold as Labour originally envisaged in 2002 with the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act.
In December 2013, he named a string of leasehold sector game players in the Commons including the freehold owning company Yianis, its management company Octagon Assets, as well as Tchenguiz and Peverel, who he described as “predators”.
He is appalled by lawyers derailing right to manage applications that then end up costing residents tens of thousands of pounds, as at Kingsmere in Brighton, where the residents lost £30,000 in a bungled RTM process.
As a Scot, Jim is well placed to recognise English leasehold law as an anomaly: that the rest of the world seems to manage flats with a good deal less acrimony and potential for exploitative practices.
Ed Davey (LibDem) represents Kingston and Surbiton, which has a fair number of London surburban leasehold blocks, as well as upmarket large complexes along the Thames.
Owing to his job as Energy Secretary Ed Davey has had the least time recently to give to leasehold issues.
But it was thanks to him that Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation held a large meeting in the Commons in 2009 attended by a large showing of retirement leasehold residents.
Ed had already begun questioning the Tchenguiz organisation and Peverel over their role in this sector of the housing market.
At the festival in 2013 to celebrate the residents at Charter Quay buying the freehold to their site, he referred to them both as “monstrous companies”.
Ed’s involvement led to the Office of Fair Trading investigation into the Peverel / Cirrus collusive tendering scandal, which finally reported in December 2013.
He shared the outrage of the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation whistleblowers that Peverel were given “leniency” by the OFT for supposedly turning themselves in … for scandalously cheating pensioners, which had already been reported in the Times.
With Sir Peter, Ed grilled the OFT chief executive for an explanation for its feebleness.
He made the point that as well as being a pathetic investigation, it was a needlessly protracted one taking four years: as Peverel were going to be let off, it could have been done in very much less time.
After the debacle of the OFT inquiry, its successor organisation the Competition and Markets Authority – with much of the same staff – launched its inquiry into leasehold management. Indeed the OFT ruling against Peverel / Cirrus came out in the same week in December 2013 as the CMA announced its inquiry.
The two events were not a coincidence.
The housebuilders, retirement housing providers, property managers, their trade bodies, compliant “think tanks”, lobbyists, parti pris lawyers, accountants and surveyors … all attempt to hoodwink government into pretending that all is more or less fine with leasehold.
These MPs know that that is not the case and that reforms are needed to make what exists better, and to provide an alternative to leasehold.