March 26, 2017

Campaign for Housing in Later Life traced to … McCarthy and Stone HQ!

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(But what on earth are Esther Rantzen and Shelter doing with this lot?)

CampaignforHousinginLaterLife

UPDATE June 8: McCarthy and Stone points out that over the credit crunch period (the five years between 2007/8 to 2011/12) it sold 7,170 properties.

 The company takes issue with Carlex’s view that there has been “almost NO demand” and that “schemes have not been sold”.

 It points out that it decided voluntarily to cease charging exit fees in September 2008, even where stated in the lease. This was four years before the OFT’s investigation concluded that they were “likely” to be an unfair contract term in September 2012.

 The decision of McCarthy and Stone did not affect the freeholds that had already been sold, where exit fees on sale still apply.

McCarthy and Stone has not sold any freeholds to the Tchenguiz group since August 2008.

The Campaign for Housing in Later Life has been traced back to the Bournemouth headquarters of McCarthy and Stone.

The website, which seems to have been started last autumn, has a registered IP identification that uses the same postal address as the retirement leasehold developer.

Other backers whose logos adorn the website include Peverel, Anchor Trust, Girlings, the Home Builders Federation and the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), which represents companies developing retirement villages. The message of the campaign is to blame planners for the lack of retirement housing supply.

It wants pressure on local authorities to approve schemes; the Help to Buy scheme to be extended to retirement leasehold and to ensure the new Community Infrastructure Levy “considers the viability issues” (which sounds like reducing the social contribution developers pay up).

The message of the Campaign for Housing in Later Life is written in large red letters on the site: “Planning regulations do not make it easy for providers to build new later life housing, which is why so few schemes are being built.”

“This is utter nonsense,” says Sebastian O’Kelly, of LKP / Carlex. “Planning has almost nothing to do with the crisis in retirement housing provision.

“Schemes have not been sold during the credit crunch because there has been almost NO demand. Nor have developers done much construction, either.

“Unjustifiable practices on the part of developers, freeholders and management companies – well attested in the courts, by the Office of Fair Trading and in Parliament – have eroded trust in the sector.

“This is the crisis, and it is entirely the result of short-sightedness and greed.”

The Campaign for Housing in Later Life makes no reference to anything amiss in the sector at all.

Like these for example:  Last December the Office of Fair Trading completed a four-year investigation into Peverel running a price-fixing cartel in retirement sites where the elderly and vulnerable at 65 sites were the victims.

 The OFT (now the Competition and Markets Authority) was sufficiently disturbed to mount an inquiry into the whole of leasehold management, reporting in September.

The OFT – again! – reported in July 2012 on the issue of fees for subletting and exit fees on sale in retirement leasehold. Written into the leases by developers, they were “likely” to be unfair contract terms.

As well as stealth clauses in leases, consumers also face predatory practices from property managers, attested repeatedly in the courts.

Here a tribunal rules on Peverel’s “arrogance” and “intentional hiding of information to which residents would have been entitled” by doling out contracts to its own subsidiaries.

Re-sale values of new retirement leasehold properties fall far lower than any other residential property. Carlex still anticipates they are 30-50 per cent off peak. Buying a retirement leasehold property is financially very high risk.

The Commons has debated appalling conduct in the retirement leasehold sector, and a string of freeholders and managing agents have been named.  

Every effort is made to prevent pensioners exercising their right to manage.

Here a freeholder delayed the successful application for two years by playing the system and appealing all the way to the Court of Appeal. 

McCarthy and Stone sold its entire freehold book to the Tchenguiz Family Trust. These are managed by Peverel and the Tchenguiz Family Trust is its overwhelming, single client.

McCarthy and Stone manages the few, newer freeholds itself and in November 2013 sacked Peverel from 25 sites.

This return to self-management repeats the set-up that existed until the mid-1990s, when Mc&S sold Peverel after a series of controversies. These included a failed £800,000 libel action against the Daily Telegraph in 1991. More here

McCarthy and Stone featured prominently on Channel Four Dispatches in September 2012. Its part-exchange purchase scheme where the elderly trade in the family home for a leasehold flat was scrutinised.

Under former owner John McCarthy, it pioneered retirement living in the UK. The sale of McCarthy and Stone revealed the property/ banking scandal at its height.

HBOS Banker Peter Cummings is banned for life as a result of this deal. More here

The worst practices are to be found in upmarket, small-scale retirement village complexes, where Carlex is aware of families who have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds after making disastrous purchases.

Sir Peter Bottomley, the Conservative MP for Worthing West, claims that there is criminal conduct in leasehold, and predicts ruined professional reputations among lawyers, surveyors and accountants who play the leasehold system, especially when exploiting the old and the vulnerable.

A healthy retirement housing sector has never been more needed, but that is certainly not what we have at the moment.

Carlex is always available to discuss these issues with developers, freeholders and management companies, as well as government and the regulatory bodies. The Campaign for Housing in Later Life does not appear to be a serious effort to engage with these issues at all.

Comments

  1. Michael Hollands says:

    I have corresponded with the Campaign for Housing in Later Life several times and have been completely ignored.
    I have asked them if they will help in reforming Leasehold and if they will be contributing to the next OFT Inquiry. They show no interest in either of these.

  2. A Reviewer says:

    It is extremely sad that people like Esther Rantzen gets suckered in by these a firms. The problem is that the firms first put up what appears to be a very reasonable proposition … THEN comes what is best described as fiscal rape – money is extracted from unwilling people.

    It is equally reprehensible that organizations like RICS and ARMA do absolutely nothing to cleanse their ranks. Same with the Police. And MP’s expenses. If you cannot trust ALL of them 100% per cent of the time, you cannot in truth trust any of them any of the time.

    And that is why Britain is going down hill FAST. It appears to me that everyone is on the PERSONAL take. There is no sense of duty …. apart from the Royal Family who have the trust of the people because of their integrity.

    More legislation is not really the answer. A few “executions” – possibly after the fashion of the Co-Op and its bank refusing to pay mega bonus’s to executives who are demonstrably a failure.

    What would we do without Carlex and About Peverel et al, and the past TTAS and Peverel Action…

    Happy Days

  3. In fairness planning does have something to do with it in that it is so darn slow and complex, as well as the conditions and agreements that they impose on it from their “ivory towers”. Local plans often do not treat it as a priority over “gen-pop” homes and as a premium choice for the richer folks and therefore with alleged high sale values, see it is a project to be milked for community levies etc.

    That hasn’t changed much since the 80’s, except that they now add words like “green sustainable and bicycles”.

  4. Peter O'Loughlin says:

    If the publicity hungry, self serving Esther Rantzen is involved, then Campaign for Housing in later life should carry a health warning!

  5. Why do they need more and more later living apartments when many people who have bought them are having to take a big drop in the price to sell them as there are so few buyers Our apartments are five years old but it has taken over 4 years to sell them all and my neighbour has been trying to resell hers for nearly two years I have spent the last week in Hampshire near where Esther Rantzen had a house and there are plenty of later living apartments for sale there at a knock down price

  6. G Farley
    Good news is about to happen with retirement developments, as the Right to Manage is moving forward with more and more developments replacing Managing Agents, mostly Peverel Retirement.

    It does take a long time to get the number required to apply for RTM but the signs are now getting better and the children of the residents are now realising the increase in value when Peverel Retirement are not part of the equation.

    Our Regional Manager PW is to visit us again that’s twice this year since I mentioned the RTM as he sees he has to inform the residents that they are better off with Peverel, HIS WORDS NOT MINE?

    The value at ABC have increase by 20% since last year as and one flat is now on the market for £117,000 which is just short of the correct valuation.

    My friend Norman Greed informed me that they have halved their insurance costs as they no longer use Peverel Retirement who was then enlisting Kingsborough Insurance Services Ltd, who then brought in an Insurance Broker who would then enlist another insurance company who actually insured the development???

    Kingsborough would be paid up to 33.05% commission for setting up the Broker, the Broker would receive on average 3.3% the correct commission and then we paid up to 6.5% further commission for TERRORISM COVER in case we are attacked and held hostage or even destroyed by terrorists???

    I HAVE ASKED FOR OVER £8,000 TO BE REFUNDED BUT OUR JANET, PEVEREL CEO, WHO AGREES THAT EXCESSIVE COMMISIONS WERE PAID, BUT HAS DECIDED THAT EACH DEVELOPMENT WILL HAVE TO TAKE THEM TO COURT, TO GET BACK MONEY THAT PEVEREL RETIREMENT SEE AS ANOTHER PERK AS THEY DID USING CARELINE/CIRRUS TO UNDERTAKE PRICED FIXED CONTRACTS FROM 2005/2009 MAKING £1.4 MILLION WHICH THEY HAVE KEPT.

    PEVEREL GROUP ADDMITTED TO THE OFT THAT THEY BELIVE THAT POSSIBLY ALL CONTRACTS FOR WARDEN CALL SYSTEMS AND FIRE SYSTEMS WERE PRICE FIXED FROM LATE 2006, ARE YOU ONE OF THESE DEVELOPMENTS, IF SO CONTACT SEBASTION OKELLY.

    My friend is taking their complaint to the Small Claims Court and I will try to be there for him.

    Great work NORMAN.

  7. Sorry folks it should have been SEBASTIAN, sorry mate?