June 24, 2017

Now Anchor wants to grab a £160,000 house manager flat … for £10,000

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Anchor seems keen to sell the house manager flat at Welland Mews

Anchor seems keen to sell the house manager flat at Welland Mews

After Carlex revealed that Hanover had sold 21 house manager flats, the cash-strapped Anchor is proposing to do the same.

Residents at Welland Mews, in Stamford in Lincolnshire, were this morning asked whether they want to continue with a resident house manager as the post is vacant.

If they agree to this a formal ballot will be held, which would require an 85 per cent majority to make the change.

WellandMewsAnchor would sell the flat and pay £10,000 into the contingency fund, or 10 per cent of the sale price, whichever is greater.

Since the year 2000, Anchor has sold six house manager flats. Carlex is aware that Places for People has sold at least one.

The supposedly not-for-profit housing associations are mimicking a trend pioneered by Peverel / Tchenguiz in 2009 to mine value out of retirement sites by issuing leases on the house managers’ flat. These were then either sold off or heavily borrowed against – when Peverel was taken out of administration in 2012 it had a £25 million loan from RBS secured against these assets.

Peter Whalley, a senior Peverel executive who left the company in July, stated in writing that the company was aware that the sale of the house manager flat could be challenged in court – the argument being that they are a common part of the site.

Anchor is having to make £12 million in savings

Anchor is having to make £12 million in savings

As yet, no retirement site has mounted a challenge, although Mere and Ash Courts in Knutsford, Cheshire, is where feelings on the subject run highest.

Anchor was asked whether it had taken legal advice over the proposed sale of the flat.

“Legal opinion is not necessary and has not been sought,” it replied.

“The basis in law on which we propose to sell the apartment is that Anchor owns the freehold of the estate. Where leaseholders elect to proceed with a sale of a manager’s apartment, it is appropriate for us to put into effect their democratically expressed wish. We do not believe that a sale in these circumstances is unlawful.”

Unlike Leonard Hackett Court, a Hanover site in Bournemouth, Welland Mews was not built with public money through the Housing Corporation – an issue that may be of major importance if the residents there go to court.

Hanover pays £15,000 into the contingency fund on sale.

The flat at Welland Mews may well be worth around £160,000.

Anchor initially told Carlex that the number of sales was “very small” – but six similarly priced properties amount to nearly £1 million. The housing association’s private retirement leasehold properties are frequently upmarket.

Sir Peter Bottomley, who was party to the Carlex / Anchor correspondence, commented during it: “I am preparing for Parliamentary activity on this and on similar issues.”

According to Inside Housing, Anchor is in the midst of a drastic cost-cutting drive to make £12 million of savings, which will involve reducing its 8,685 staff.

In the past, it has been strongly rebuked for high salaries by Parliament.

Carlex says:

You would have to be completely daft to accept a £10,000 donation into the contingency fund in exchange for a £160,000 flat.

An alternative would be for the residents at Welland Mews to borrow some money, buy the freehold and then sell off the house manager’s flat themselves. Or, rent it out.

The combined value of the leasehold properties at Welland Mews far exceeds the value of the freehold, so it is absurd to permit Anchor to make proposals of this sort.

It is depressing that so many retirement sites have agreed to ending the live-in house manager service and accept really trifling payment in exchange for the sale of the flat.

It is this incessant cleverness in the retirement leasehold sector at the expense of elderly and vulnerable people that has so drastically reduced confidence in it.

Anchorletter

Comments

  1. Michael Hollands says:

    Anchor say they are selling the managers apartment as it would be at the expressed wish of the Residents.
    If this is the case ( and it is not to promote their own finances) they should consider splitting the reward the other way round.
    That is by taking the £10,000 themselves and putting £150,000 into a fund which can be used to help finance extra help if it is ever needed by residents in emergency situations.
    Not into the Contingency Fund where the Management Company can help them spend it.

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    Before agreeing to selling a £160,000 asset for a “contribution to service charge” of £10,000 ask yourself “Did you buy your apartment because there was a house manager? If so you have already paid a premium for your purchace How would your resale price be affected by the lack of a house manager?. If there are 50 apartments that means a credit of £200 for each leaseholder.
    How long do you think it would be before service charges are increased, thus wiping out that £200?