January 26 2012: A large raspberry is likely to be blown in the face of Vincent Tchenguiz on February 4 when the peppery residents of Charter Quay in Kingston vote on whether they want him to manage their block again.
This bizarre suggestion follows the re-payment of nearly £400,000 by the Tchenguiz’s group of freehold-owning companies over the past three years – with more possibly to follow.
The three-year management order by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal appointing managing agents HML Andertons in place of the Tchenguiz-owned Estates and Management is due to end in August.
Estates and Management wants the site to return to its care and has told the tribunal “there is no reason to believe that there will be problems in the future”.
This is a breathtaking statement, given that the Tchenguiz management was branded a “disgrace” in November last year for doling out CCTV and insurance brokering deals to his own companies.
The Tchenguiz modus operandi of buying freeholds or head leases for perhaps 1.5% of the capital all the leaseholders have paid at a development, then appointing a managing agent he owns and creating a lucrative monopoly of expensive services, is well established.
It was utterly deplored in the most strongly worded LVT ruling conceivable in November last year and resulted in a £180,000 re-payment.
Residents at Charter Quay are veterans at fighting their landlord and the assorted managing agents he owns.
Their current court-appointed managing agent HML Andertons is fighting an action to recover rental charges for the common areas.
The case has huge significance for retirement leaseholders where rentals for house manager flats can cause the same problem.
Both can be challenged if they are outside the terms of the lease.
The case of Warwickshire Hamlets v Gedden is a good example on this issue which went to appeal to the Lands Tribunal where the tenants case was upheld. Appeal cases are important as they set precedent for the lower LVTs to follow.
In the case at Charter Quay the landlord has charged a staggering £93,000 for “notional rentals of the common areas” in the years 2005-2009.
All five years of this “rental” were taken from the Charter Quay service charge account in 2009 just before Tchenguiz’s managing agent was thrown off the site.
It is claimed Estates and Management admitted in 2010 that they owed the money in an email from the managing director Michael Gaston.
Now the issue is heading to court, and the Charter Quay residents are determined not to accept a penny less than full settlement.
If you are being wrongly charged for rentals of the common parts, the Warwickshire Hamlets case can be found here: