March 26, 2017

Been ripped off over leasehold insurance? Take your complaint to the secret ombudsman, says Peverel

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JanetKimSliderUPDATE April 18, 15.55 Peverel statement at the end of the article

A retirement leasehold resident disputing Kingsborough insurance commissions with Peverel has been told she must take her dispute to an ombudsman, whose rulings are not published.

Joan Wade, who has lived at Grasmere Court in Worthing since 2003, was appalled to receive a letter from  Peverel’s senior area manager on February 26 stating:

“I understand the matter of insurance commissions has already been considered by our complaints panel and you have been informed of their decision.  If you are unhappy with their decision the next stage in our complaints procedure is to write to the Housing Ombudsman.”

Alternatively, Joan and her neighbours could take their case to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal and – very publicly – dispute thousands of pounds of commission.

Janet Entwistle, Peverel chief executive, said in June last year in her AskJanet blog:

“Historically, some insurance commissions have been too high … With regard to your particular dilemma to take this to a tribunal, that really is something I want to stop.  We must look to try and resolve all matters constructively far earlier in the process so it doesn’t get to that.”

The full text (which is no longer on the Peverel site) can be read here: http://www.carlex.co/there-are-problems-with-peverels-reputation-but-new-owners-are-in-it-for-the-long-term/

 Retirement leaseholders have had spectacular success fighting Kingsborough, Peverel’s in-house insurance broker.

At Strand Court, in Rye, the commissions were reduced to zero at an LVT and Peverel was criticised for treating the residents with “arrogance” and for “the intentional hiding of information to which residents would have been entitled” by doling out contracts to their own subsidiaries.

StrandcutoutThe full report can be read here: http://www.carlex.co/wartime-squadron-leader-aged-94-chalks-up-11500-victory-over-peverel/

A recent Kingsborough commission dispute at another retirement site in Kingston, Surrey, was settled earlier this month – with the residents gagged by a confidentiality agreement.

In the light of such stinging criticism, Peverel’s enthusiasm for mediation and behind-closed-doors redress schemes is quite understandable.

But curiously on April 1 it has changed from the Housing Ombudsman Ombudsman to the Warrington-based Ombudsman Services: Property.

Both are commercial companies, misleadingly described as “not for profit” companies that provide livelihoods for employees.

peverelombudsmanInterestingly, Peverel itself should be paying for these ombudsman services (about £40 a block) rather than have the fee dumped on leaseholders through the service charges.

This LVT ruling made it perfectly clear that as an ombudsman scheme was not mentioned in the lease it should be Peverel paying to join it. The LVT case was: CHI/29UN/LIS/2012/0033.

A report of this can be read here: http://www.carlex.co/peverels-approach-to-self-regulation-is-you-pay-for-it-and-it-goes-on-the-service-charge-even-though-an-lvt-says-it-shouldnt/

Peverel made clear then that this ruling only applied to that particular site … so leaseholders elsewhere are having to pay for Peverel to clean up its reputation.

Peverel statement:

To be attributed to a Peverel Group spokesperson

Carlex: Can you please explain why Peverel moved from using the Housing Ombudsman for complaints redress to the Warrington-based Ombudsman Services: Property from April 1?

 

A: We reviewed our ombudsman service in response to customer feedback and strongly believe Ombudsman Services: Property will provide the best service for our customers. As an expert in the field of property dispute resolution, the service is well placed to resolve issues quickly and to the satisfaction of our customers.  

Carlex: Is Peverel paying for membership of the Ombudsman, or levying a charge on the leaseholders to do so?

 

A: We received feedback from Peverel Retirement customers about the charges of the previous ombudsman service.  Under the new arrangement, no charges will be made to customers or service charge accounts for this service.

Carlex:  A Carlex reader, who is disputing Kingsborough insurance commissions, is complaining about receiving from a Peverel senior area manager a letter which reads: “I understand the matter of insurance commissions has already been considered by our complaints panel and you have been informed of their decision.  If you are unhappy with their decision the next stage in our complaints procedure is to write to the Housing Ombudsman.”

Peverel’s complaints procedure is purely an internal matter governed by your company’s commercial considerations. Should it not also be made clear to those who may think that your complaints procedure has some official validity, that leaseholders can, of course, take their complaint to the LVT?

A: We feel that the LVT process can be confrontational and very difficult for an individual. Our experience is that resolution of disputes by an independent organisation produces far better results in a less combative environment. It is also quicker and far cheaper for a customer.

Comments

  1. We have been informed by Carol Crowe that wef 1April 2013 a change of Ombudsman provider to “Ombudsman Services : Property” has taken place.

    The notice also confirms that “The cost of providing the new service will be fully borne by Peverel Retirement, with no direct charges made to service charge accounts”

    Does’t this mean we’ve won one ?

  2. Judi Runciman/Kingsborough advises leaseholders to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Quote from an email she sent me:

    “The governing body of insurance brokers is the Financial Services Authority and we are obliged under their rules to respond to complaints. This I have done well within line with their response times and I have advised you of my final decision on the above matter. Under the FSA rules governing complaints handling I am obliged to offer you the services of the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are unhappy with my final response. The FOS deals with complaints against insurance brokers and insurance companies.”

    But all the leaseholders that followed her advice and went down that route got nowhere. The FOS told the complainants that, because the freeholder is the building insurance policyholder and the leaseholders pay the building insurance cover indirectly through their service charges, the FOS is unable to investigate individual complaints. Therefore it was a complete waste of everyone’s time.

    So then we are told it’s the Housing Ombudsman and now the Property Ombudsman. But as we have all found out it is none of these ombudsmen but the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.

    Peverel’s answers to the questions Carlex put to them are mystifying. Peverel must provide a further explanation regarding Kingsborough’s advice to leaseholders that they can make a complaint about inflated insurance commissions to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Are leaseholders being deliberately mislead?

  3. With ref to buying of buildings insurance cover, Peveral should be contacting 3 independent brokers for quotes. Instead they pass the job of sourcing insurance to Kingsborough ( which was another member company of CBG ) to buy a policy cover at excessive commission rate paid back to Kingborough ?

    This situation may be a breach of the Fraud Act 2006 Section 4 ( Fraud by abuse of position ) and should be reported to the Police Station ( Commercial crimes ).

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/35/pdfs/ukpga_20060035_en.pdf

  4. No wonder Peverel prefer the Ombudsman service. Chris Owens/Head of Customer Relations wrote an article in Life&Style magazine “How we’re addressing customer complaints”:

    “No. of complaints:
    Financial 27
    Staff 10
    Neighbours 3
    Maintenance 8
    Total 48

    Peverel Panel upheld in favour of customer(s): 4
    Referred to Housing Ombudsman Service: 14

    HOS RULED IN FAVOUR OF CUSTOMER(S): 0”

    (??!!)