April 28, 2017

Ex-Peverel employee thwarted over right to manage for Tatton Court and Willow Court

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UPDATE August 12

Yesterday evening Susan Earnshaw returned Carlex’s phone call and we discussed the issues of Tatton Court and Willow Court and the services provided by her company.

We publish her full response below, but make a number of points:

1/ We tried but were unable to contact Mrs Earnshaw prior to publication of this article.

The website and contact details of the Select Retirement Services were not available until yesterday afternoon, when came on line. As soon as it was possible to do so, Carlex phoned Mrs Earnshaw. She was not in, but subsequently phoned back in the evening.

2/ The concerns we have raised are directed at Mrs Earnshaw failing to take Tatton Court and Willow Court right to manage, the process having begun more than a year ago at the former.

Getting a correct right to manage application is complicated, particularly with this freeholder who does not want to lose the management appointment.

We have offered assistance to Mrs Earnshaw to realise right to manage, but if she has lost interest or impetus in these sites she should let some other leaseholder-oriented management have a go.

It is not encouraging that the dates of birth of all four of the resident directors at Tatton Court are given as “February 1950”. If this is indicative of the precision of the RTM applications, they will not succeed.

3/ The point about Jonathan Earnshaw not being a director but the company secretary of these RTMs is not valid. As company secretary, he shares the legal responsibilities with the directors, and has others. He sits on the board. If Select Retirement Services has ceased to attempt to obtain RTM for these sites, he should stand down.

4/ We have informed Mrs Earnshaw that we saw no merit in her company seeking to be appointed the managing agent by the freeholder through Estates and Management. Such an appointment would mean that she was working for the freeholder, not the leaseholders.

5/ Carlex is very pleased that Mrs Earnshaw has set up a property management company (which manages less than 100 flats) and we wish her enterprise well. The more plurality and competition in property management the better. Not one of the large property management companies – FirstPort, Countrywide – is large through consumer choice. They are large through appointment by developers, large freeholders like Tchenguiz and through takeovers.

FirstPort repeatedly and wrongly describes leaseholders as its customers. They aren’t its customers; freeholders like Mr Tchenguiz are.

6/ Mrs Earnshaw appeared a pleasant and courteous person. She was obviously a popular Peverel area manager. We suspect she cannot do RTMs at this level at this stage unassisted.

If she wants to persist, we have indicated how we could assist. If she wants to pull out, that would benefit the residents as management companies adept at RTM could take over.

Dear Mr O’Kelly

I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you yesterday evening and I trust you will report this on your website that I did return your call after you left a message at our office.

I have attached my original response which I wrote prior to our conversation which you may wish to print confirming it was written before our contact

Dear Mr Kelly

I am writing in response to you recent bulletin posted on CARLEX. I am saddened and disappointed you have found it necessary to attack myself my son and my company having never met me or spoken to me at any time. You have no idea about my work ethics or employment record.

We have a website selectretirementservice.co.uk which has been available for the past 12 months. It has clear information including our office address and telephone number email address and contact page. To date we have had no contact from you.

We set up a business to offer an alternative management package giving excellent customer service working for residents for a fair and reasonable Management Fee with no hidden costs or commission .

The CMA have recommended in their recent report that residents should have more input and involvement in their choice of Managing Agent which I am sure this is something CARLEX would be supportive of.

We have presented at over 13 blocks and this has been on an invitation only basis by residents.

I can confirm we did send out marketing information that is common business practise and no different to any other companies. We have not commissioned any ballots unless residents have requested we distributed the forms.

We have had no further involvement as it was the residents responsibility to count and record the results often these have been counted externally by a local councillor and local clergy. The result was in every case a minimum 95% wanting to appoint SRS at one block it was !00%. On notifying the landlord the residents were told that we would not be appointed as we were not on their preferred managing agent list and the residents were offered Rendall and Ritner or Freemont.

Residents in retirement schemes do not always want to pursue RTM as they believe it is onerous task and lack volunteers to see it through although attitudes do seem to be changing this has been apparent from messages we have received on our website contact page.

We accept we are a new company but feel we should be given a chance to prove our capabilities on an initial 12 month contract. We know residents would not be disappointed and we could save them thousands of pounds on their budgets.

I would point out that Jonathan Earnshaw is not listed as a Director of any RTM company easily checked at Companies House however he is listed as Company secretary for them this was by invitation from the RTM directors this position would cease on the inception of the RTM.

For your informaton we have already been appointed at some non retirement sites and they are delighted with our service and I am sure if we are appointed by any RTM/RMC companies in the future they will be happy to share with CARLEX how they have found our service .

Yours sincerely

Susan Earnshaw

At Tatton Court a leaseholder uprising for right to manage has been going on for more than a year

At Tatton Court a leaseholder uprising for right to manage has been going on for more than a year

UPDATE: August 10 2016. Select Retirement Services website has appeared today here

More than a year has gone by since the residents of Tatton Court, in Altrincham, Cheshire, began asking for right to manage from the Tchenguiz / FirstPort fiefdom and it looks like they are stalled.

The same seems to be the case for Willow Court, in Gatly, Stockport, also in Cheshire.

Both are supposedly being taken right to manage by Susan Earnshaw, a former Peverel area manager, whose son and business partner Jonathan is – alarmingly – a director of both the RTM companies.

They jointly own Select Retirement Services Limited, which is on record as a dormant company and has filed no accounts. There is no website or contact details for the company.

Residents at both Tatton Court and Willow Court have contacted Carlex in desperation after their right to manage applications headed nowhere.

Tatton Court has involved local Labour MP Ann Coffey and Carlex patron Sir Peter Bottomley.

RTM at Willow Court also seems to be stalled. Jonathan Earnshaw is listed as one of the RTM directors, but is joint owner of the proposed incoming managing agent, Select Retirement Services Limited

RTM at Willow Court also seems to be stalled. Jonathan Earnshaw is listed as one of the RTM directors, but is joint owner of the proposed incoming managing agent, Select Retirement Services Limited

Estates and Management is taking a robust line in opposing the moves, acting for the freeholder Proxima – both entities, of course, belong to Vincent Tchenguiz’s rickety property empire based in the British Virgin Islands.

Part of the problem facing Tatton and Willow Courts appears to be Mrs Earnshaw herself, who was an employee of Mr Tchenguiz, the former owner of Peverel (now FirstPort) until his arrest and the implosion of his then much larger property empire in March 2011.

For someone whose job would have involved thwarting residents’ ambitions to escape the joys of Peverel, Mrs Earnshaw does not seem to be very adept at organising the right to manage of Tatton and Willow Courts.

Indeed, the fact that she is a Peverel gamekeeper turned poacher seems to be making things more difficult.

On April 22, Estates and Management wrote to the RTM directors at Tatton Court and passed the letter on to Carlex (in full attached).

Its contents do much to undermine Estates and Management’s reputation for humourlessness.

“The Residents’ Association (RA) for Tatton Court originally wrote to us on 22 May 2015 to say that the residents wanted to replace the current managing agent, FirstPort Retirement, and appoint Select Retirement Services Limited.

“This company was established by Susan Earnshaw, a former employee of Peverel Retirement (now called FirstPort Retirement), who we understand was the local property manager for Tatton Court during her employment with Peverel Retirement.

“It transpired that SRS had been to Tatton Court and purported to conduct a residents’ ballot relating to the future management of the development without approaching our client for consent to do so, or even offering the courtesy of prior notification.

“Our client … is perfectly willing to work with residents to find a suitable alternative managing agent where residents are unhappy with the existing service being provided, but cannot always agree with the choice of agent preferred by the residents.

“This is, unfortunately, such a case and it is disappointing that the RA have not so far been prepared to allow our client to discuss the matter openly and transparently with the residents’ body, or offer a choice of agents which our client considers would be suitable …”

Carlex readers will be gleeful to read that the Tchenguiz organisation of several hundred companies ultimately controlled offshore – and once described by a judge as of “quasi-Biblical complexity” – is criticising pensioners for not acting “openly and transparently”.

That they wanted to shaft Estates and Management, and do so sneakily, can only be a case of payback in the same coin.

And, of course, the residents can invite whoever they like into their site to conduct surveys etc, and, no, they do not need to give the freeholder any explanation why they want right to manage, which is a no-fault application. It is also worth reminding readers that the freeholder’s financial stake in this site is minimal, compared with the collective value of the leasehold flats. This, if for no other reason, is why ALL retirement sites they should have right to manage structures.

But the letter has more:

“We can confirm that we had previously been in correspondence, and met Ms Earnshaw of SRS in April 2015, to discuss a number of similar direct marketing approaches she had made to residents of developments owned by our landlord clients [Translation: owned by our boss Mr Tchenguiz].

“Our clients were concerned at the way in which these approaches were being made, but wanted to meet with Ms Earnshaw in the hope that SRS might be an agent our clients would be willing to voluntarily appoint to manage properties in the future.”

But because SRS is not a member of RICS, ARMA or ARHM, “SRS did not, and we believe still do not meet any of these requirements, and our client [Translation: ourselves] does not consider SRS suitable for appointment as agent of Tatton Court.”

The rest of the letter concerns the unfortunate treatment by the residents of Louise Smith, the only Tchenguiz employee it seems who actually visits retirement sites.

One of her key tasks is to stuff right to manage applications, and she regularly visits sites where there are RTM stirrings. But the residents at Tatton Court gave her short shrift.

First, they would not fill in her “customer satisfaction survey” on June 9 2015, then she received “a somewhat hostile letter” from the RA chairman saying no one wanted to speak to her, and finally:

“She attended the development on 8 September 2015 to try to do so, but unfortunately the residents were not prepared to do so.”

In spite of this rough handling of Ms Smith, Estates and Management remained prepared to replace FirstPort at Tatton Court. “Our client [Translation: themselves] would have replaced FirstPort some months ago had discussions with the residents been more constructive.”

The last part of the long letter says because the Earnshaws made such a mess of the right to manage application – “a number of failures to comply correctly” – Estates and Management would resist it.

At Willow Court it appears to be the same story.

Carlex attempted to trace contact details for Mrs Earnshaw so that she could comment on this article before publication. However, SRS does not appear to have publicly available contact details.

She is welcome to comment now.

Carlex says:

The residents at Tatton Court and Willow Court appear to appreciate Mrs Earnshaw owing to their previous connection when she was employed by Peverel.

But we have a number of concerns here.

It is not encouraging that her company Select Retirement Services Limited does not seem to be active.

It is worrying that a shareholder of this company, Jonathan Earnshaw, is a director of both the Tatton and Willow Court RTM companies. This directorship should end immediately. It may be an acceptable arrangement to get an RTM company founded, but there is an obvious conflict of interest issue for this directorship to continue.

It is also worrying that Mrs Earnshaw appears to have proposed to Estates and Management that her company be appointed by the freeholder to run the site.

A freeholder changing the appointment of his managing agent addresses none of the fundamental issues in leasehold management. In these circumstances, the management company will do the freeholder’s bidding, or be sacked.

Right to manage, on the other hand, means a property management appointed by the leaseholders and accountable to them. This is a fundamental difference, which is why Parliament brought in the RTM legislation in 2002.

Carlex is quite happy to advise Tatton and Willow Courts RTMs and they are welcome to get in touch.

A determined and correct RTM application is likely to be accepted, grudgingly, by Estates and Management. But if there are errors in the paperwork, they will throw it out.

Getting this right takes expertise, to which Carlex has access.

We are unaware of any RTM involving a retirement site that has been contested in open tribunal by the Tchenguiz organisation.

The correspondence from the RTM directors at Tatton Court and Estates and Management’s reply are below:
TattonCourtRTMtoE&M
E&MtoTattonCourtRTM

Comments

  1. Michael Epstein says:

    Clearly, there is much hypocrisy on the part of E&M. After all, they talk of preferring a management company that is part of a trade body (such as RICS or ARMA/ARHM)
    And yet they use Firsport Retirement who still after nearly two years have yet to be admitted to ARMA and who admitted to price fixing.
    Even worse, their preferred choice for managing agent is none other than Freemont Property Managers, run by the former Peverel directors.
    Indeed it could well be asked (in the interests of openness and transparency) whether the in house solicitor for E&M is actually the E&M in house solicitor or works for another company, given E&M only have three employees.
    I can fully understand that residents would wish to appoint a manager that they know and trust.
    I can also fully understand a manager who has formed a new managing company targeting developments they are familiar with. This is precisely the methods being employed by Freemont Property Managers and Rendell & Ritter (who have just taken on Jonathan Astle for this very purpose)
    It has often happened that a management company involved in a RTM has a director on the RTM company.(Peverel did the same) I see no problem in that, provided they resign after the RTM.
    Is Select any good? I don’t know. But as long as they can be sacked if they do not live up to their promises, that is the residents choice.

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    As everyone knows I have been and will be a great supporter of Carlex and Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.
    In the case of Tatton Court and Willow Court, Carlex are fully justified in questioning the role of Sue Earnshaw and the status of Select Retirement Services, as Carlex and LKP were justified in publishing concerns about the Right to Manage Federation. I hope that Miss Earnshaw does take the opportunity to respond to the published articles.
    That said, I am very uneasy over the headline of the article, particularly the part that uses the phrase “Turncoat” That she was a former Peverel area manager is true.Perhaps as an employee of Peverel, she had to do things (as many others had to do) that had to match her employers ethics rather than her own?
    That she is trying to build a company based on her former clients, is not a new business tactic, and it certainly does not make her a “Turncoat”
    I admit i have sometimes had the reputation for being OTT, so I hope I am not being a hypocrite, when I say, in my humble opinion the headline was not Carlex’s finest prose!
    Just a thought? The part of the article referring to ARMA/ARHM and the RICS, did membership of any of these fine regularity bodies prevent the insurance commission scandal or the price fixing fraud, or the onerous long term entryphone/warden call contracts to a connected company?
    Did they prevent the clear deception over the sales of house managers flats? Thought not!

  3. Elle Mentary says:

    Michael
    In reply to the final couple of paragraphs. No – these fine regulatory bodies did not prevent the insurance commission scandal or the price fixing fraud, or the onerous long term entryphone/warden call contracts to a connected company.

    That is the exact reason why E & M want us residents to use Managing Agents who are members of these bodies. What use would a Managing Agent who was not a member of these bodies be to E & M? If they are not members, they may get caught out and face the consequences!

  4. Elle,

    So true the 3 mentioned bodies RICS – ARMA – ARHM are a disgrace when they are informed of the scams carried out by Firstport/Peverel and do nothing about the serious scams, but admonish the lessor ones giving Firstport/Peverel a slap on the knuckles only, what a total farce.

    • Michael Hollands says:

      It’s still not too late for ARMA to act and persuade First Port to compensate Peverels victims.
      Maybe the new Regulator of the Disciplinary Board will take the necessary action, what a great start that would be for her.
      So, come on ARMA lets see some action, show us that your Charter can put some fairness into this industry.

      • Our understanding is that Peverel/First Port did pay a “good will” payment to those sites who were part of the collusive tendering. The payment represented 10% of the contract.

        Since no site has ever wanted to take the matter to court – which was the whole purpose of the OFT rather weak finding there is not a lot more that can be done.

        If any of the scammed sites recorded in the OFT finding did not get their payment they should contact FirstPort or let us know.

        • Michael Epstein says:

          Martin,
          I agree the OFT ruling completely opened the door for affected residents to sue for their losses.
          The residents did not even have to prove that Peverel/Firstport was guilty, that was already admitted.
          I can though understand that those in later years wanted a peaceful life and did not want the stress of a court case. Peverel/Firstport are famed for calculating how much they can get away with?
          Seemingly, they gambled correctly, in that they thought a derisory offer of 100,000 pounds divided by 65 developments would keep the residents quiet.
          That said, where I disagree with you, there is a lot more that can be done.
          At the very least by keeping the price fixing scandal in the public domain, Peverel/Firstport can never “sign off” their price fixing fraud and move on.
          Every time Peverel/Firstport bid for a management contract, as soon as the potential customer “google’s” Peverel/Firstport up will come the words PRICE, Fixing and FRAUD. and long may that continue.

          • Well said Michael,

            You said you agree the OFT ruling completely opened the door for affected residents to sue for their losses and residents did not even have to prove that Peverel/Firstport was guilty as they pleaded guilty in 2009 after 5 years of colluding with another Peverel Company to Rig Tenders and Price Fix.

            As a resident that will be 70 in two months time, where is the Dunkirk Spirit that helped us get through the tough times. I also can understand those in later years want a peaceful life and do not want the stress of a court case. Having said that why should a company that chose to cheat over 2,000 pensioners and Price Fix 65 Developments, be allowed to continue trading as if nothing happened?

            I agree Peverel/Firstport are well known for the scams that relieve pensioners of their well earned pensions. You then said, where I disagree with you, there is a lot more that can be done. This I agree with 100% and the Price Fixing Scandal should be kept in the public domain.

      • Michael Epstein says:

        Michael Hollands,
        Apart from the price fixing, I wonder if ARMA are going to take account of the Peverel/Firstport guilty pleas to four charges including “Causal Death” in relation to the Gibson Court fire?

  5. Michael Epstein says:

    When choosing a managing agent (which is always a better option than having a managing agent appointed by the freeholder) any RTM company must do some kind of diligence on the agent.
    Having an impressive website may indicate to people that the managing agent is professional and to be trusted. Certainly having no website or worse still a shambolic one is not encouraging .
    However, a good website is not proof positive. They can disguise. Further investigation must be done.
    At random, I have picked three companies involved in property management that all have excellent websites.
    Freemont Property Managers have a net worth of 12.6K
    Jones Associates have a net worth of 1.8K
    Urban Owners have a net worth of -534K
    So don’t just look at the websites, look at the financial status of the companies.
    Best of all, is to look at other developments they manage and see if residents are happy.

    • So, on the basis of the financials that you have selected “at random”, leaseholders should choose Freemont?

      These figures tell us very little. Freemont is probably the smallest company of them all.

      Freemont is discussed elsewhere on this website, and I doubt you are recommending them.

      Jones Associates has taken over management of five retirement sites in Cheshire (in addition to its non-retirement portfolio), and won the epic RTM battle for Metcalfe Court. We rate it very highly.

      Urban Owners, which may have a large mortgage on its offices, has done more right to manage applications than any other organisation in the country. It is a highly professional organisation, with excellent references. It is the largest company you mention.

      • Michael Epstein says:

        You are right to doubt that I was recommending Freemont.
        Indeed, I believe I was the very first person to warn others about Freemont.
        I seem to recall contacting Carlex/LKP as soon as Nigel Bannister got together with Keith Edgar.
        At that time, Freemont had not even be registered. From memory, the response to me was that “there was nothing to worry about as nothing would come of it.”
        Over the years Carlex and Leasehold Knowledge Partnership has done some outstanding work.
        Particular tribute must be paid to Martin and Sebastian.
        That we have disagreed on an individual issue, does not lessen the deep respect I have for Carlex/LKP.

        • You said look at the financials. What are they telling you?

          • Michael Epstein says:

            What the financials tell me, is that when it comes to property management, never, ever take anything at face value. Don’t rely on a flashy website. Look at the record of any management company and the record of those connected with it before appointing them.

  6. Alex Ellison says:

    Regarding the comment from Michael Hollands about ARMA persuading Firstport to compensate victims, I am still waiting for a reply on this subject from Keith Hill, chairman of the ARMA Regulation Panel which heard my complaint about the sale of House Manager flats and who thereafter disciplined Firstport. A copy of my letter to him is on the Carlex website dated June 28th.

    Firstport are in possession of hundreds of ‘created’ leases on these flats and have persuaded many residents that changing to a non-residential manager would save them substantial amounts in future salaries and maintenance. Even though it is often the case that a flat has been updated at the expense of the residents’ contingency fund, the derisory £10,000 offered by Firstport is a non-negotiable figure.

    By accepting to move to a non-residential manager, residents should be aware that they are taking away from their development one of the things that many new residents look for – someone being around for help and advice, and which is something for which they have paid when they purchased their lease. The salary savings of a non-residential manager versus a residential one are absolutely minimal. The cost of updating the HM flat is the threat which is usually the most persuasive, and convinces residents to give up the flat. So for the contribution of £10,000 into the contingency fund, Firstport are able to put the flat on the open market for between £100K – £200K. Firstport insists there is no need to change the wording of development leases to take account of the changed circumstances, despite the fact it knows that no service charge can be collected on the flat without lease change.

    Sadly those developments which have given up their residential manager have been terribly exploited and should be compensated, but ARMA is not the body able to insist. It has disciplined Firstport but chosen not to withhold its application for membership. ARMA’s view is ‘better to have Firstport in the fold than outside it’.

    Whoever it is better for, it is certainly not the leaseholders.

    • Alex,
      ARMA persuading Firstport to compensate victims?

      Why are you still waiting for a reply on this subject from Keith Hill. I believe he stood down from being chairman of the ARMA Regulation Panel that heard your complaint. The fact that you were given false information regarding the sale of the Residential House Manager Flat, seems to have been accepted but the punishment did not Fit the Crime.

      Peverel Retirement now Firstport Retirement were allowed to escape with a slapped wrist after Disciplinary Procedure found them guilty of providing false and misleading information where management would have benefited financially. Again Peverel Retirement are seen to be guilty of cheating and fraudulently benefiting Area/Regional Managers, and ARMA again show, Peverel Retirement are Teflon Coated.

      I have read your letter, and I believe your comments could have been a lot stronger. We are still waiting, 4 years since we first approached by the Area Manager and Regional Manager who lied about who owned the HMF stating it was the Freeholder when in fact it was another Peverel Company. The two managers also informed us, we would save substantial amounts in future salaries and maintenance. The Area/Regional Managers informed us we would be expected to update the HMF in the near future if we didn’t agree. We were not offered any amounts but that we would no longer be responsible for any costs attributed to the upkeep of the flat.

      Since we agreed to a Part Time House Manager, we have not seen any move to sell the flat but have been paying for the HMF:

      * Council Tax
      * Gas
      * Electric
      * Removing Rubbish left by sacked House Manager
      * Painting of Living Room used as office

      The Regional and Area Manager have since moved on, and we are on our 4th House Managers who has been here for 5 weeks.
      There would be a need to change the lease showing 29 flats instead of 28, no doubt charging us for the cost of change.

      I agree those developments which have given up their residential manager have been exploited and should be compensated, but ARMA will argue they do not have the power to force Peverel/Firstport to pay.
      In disciplining Peverel/Firstport, ARMA now feels the slap wrist is sufficient punishment and will allow them to apply for ARMA-Q, can this be believed?

    • Michael Epstein says:

      Alex,
      Am I correct in believing that the provisions of your lease provide for paying towards the up-keep of the house manager’s flat?
      That being the case, were the house manager’s flat to be sold,and the provision of your lease has not been amended, you would still have an obligation to contribute towards the up-keep of the former house manager’s flat.
      Without an an amendment to the lease, the new leaseholder of the former house manager’s flat is under no obligation to pay a service charge, and if he spots the legal loophole, there is nothing anyone can do?
      Am I also correct in believing that for a lease to be amended the majority needs to be much higher than a simple vote that has been taken over the sale of house managers flats, such that it would be very unlikely that any of the flats would have been sold?

  7. Michael Epstein says:

    Alex,
    Did you see the news item on About Peverel, that shows Peverel/Firstport was writing to House Managers in February 2014 concerning the sale of their flats?
    So any decorations after this date to house manager’s flats were done in the full knowledge that Peverel/Firstport intended them to be sold.

  8. Alex Ellison says:

    Michael,
    I am sorry that this information (published on About Peverel) was not available before the February ARMA hearing but in view of Nigel Glen (ARMA Chief Executive) telling me recently that ARMA took the view “it was better to have Firstport in the fold than outside it”, I do not think it would have made any difference to the outcome. My point was that if there was proof of Firstport/Peverel dishonesty that ARMA should not allow Firstport Retirement to apply for membership. I don’t think any information presented would have changed the fact that ARMA had to allow Firstport Retirement to apply for membership because it already had accredited other Firstport companies and they all share common directors.

    • Michael Hollands says:

      Seems a very strange policy for Nigel Glen and ARMA to adopt.
      That is to welcome any “dodgy” company into ARMA Q because it is better that they are in rather than outside.
      How does that tie in with their boast that leaseholders can have every confidence in using management companies who are their members.

      • Alex,

        You posted Nigel Glen (ARMA Chief Executive) informed you recently that ARMA took the view “it was better to have Firstport in the fold than outside it”. Did Nigel Glen say why it would be better to have Firstport in the fold than outside?

        You also posted you do not think it would have made any difference to the outcome, even though there was proof of Firstport/Peverel dishonesty which had shown managers colluded, therefore ARMA should not allow Firstport Retirement to apply for membership, even if other companies have been taken into the fold?

  9. Alex Ellison says:

    Michael,
    Yes I did see this article on About Peverel and I am sorry it was not available to be put before the ARMA panel in February. However I do not believe it would have altered the outcome. My case was that if there was proof of dishonesty then Firstport should not be allowed to apply for ARMA membership. The fact that Firstport was disciplined over the matter of the House Manager flats meant that the panel accepted the evidence I put before it. However Nigel Glen, Chief Executive of ARMA, told me recently it was ARMA’s view that it was “better to have Firstport in the fold that outside it”. Other Firstport companies are already accredited by ARMA and share common directors with Firstport Retirement so to have excluded the Retirement part of the company would have put ARMA in a deeply embarrassing situation.

    • Michael Hollands says:

      I have realised for sometime that it is not the policy of the Carlex and LKP management to be too critical of ARMA. If there are some good points about them we are missing then can we please be informed.
      Personally I find it disappointing that ARMA will not answer questions and e.mails and within their policies and workings the plight of the leaseholder appears to be the least of their worries.
      I see no reason why the new regulator should not revisit the question of compensation for price fixing.
      Yes we know the OFT decision gave affected Leaseholders the opportunity to take legal action ( an open goal according to Carlex) but of course the elderly did not have the stomach for it.
      Perhaps ARMA when considering the FP Retirement application for ARMA Q could do this for them.
      Then this whole issue could be finally put to bed.
      The OFT stated that the evidence in their Price Fixing decision gives the victims an opportunity to take action.
      Carlex called it an Open Goal.
      ARMA spent months and months investigating.
      In addition to the OFT evidence they were given plenty more in writing and from interviews with witnesses.
      And what did ARMA come up with.
      “The panel took the view that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that FP (Peverel) was involved, and there was no case to answer”
      What a cop out.
      It is ARMA’s claim that they help Leaseholders get the most out of living in a Leasehold flat.
      So ARMA please get your finger out and give these victims some help.

      • There was never any prospect of ARMA’s regulator getting involved in the collusive tendering case. The Office of Fair Trading investigation could not have been more tokenistic and pathetic, accepting the cobblers that Peverel had somehow turned itself in and was helping with inquiries. The ruling was against its subsidiary Cirrus.

        In fact, Peverel had been rumbled. There were no sanctions against the company whatsoever. There were fines for the stooge contractors, who had put in dishonest and bogus tenders in order that Cirrus win the contracts.

        Peverel’s payment of £100,000 was entirely discretionary.

        The only sanctions threatened during the entire fiasco were against the Carlex whistleblowers, who were threatened with prosecution if they publicly discussed the OFT’s protracted, four-year long inquiry.

        Sir Peter Bottomley publicly stated that he believed crime to have taken place, and Carlex – in spite of comments here – ensured the issue got the widest media coverage.

        Under these circumstances, there was very little reason for the ARMA regulator to go on. (The witnesses were called to deal with the complaint concerning house manager flat sales.)

        On the other hand, is ARMA really going to admit FirstPort Retirement? And how will the rest of the membership – none of whom own a subsidiary that has been subject to an OFT collusive tendering ruling – going to think about it?

        ARMA might like the fees, but they will come at considerable cost in terms of credibility.

        • The ruling against Cirrus Communication I believe, was part of the arrangements made in the beginning, to use them as a scape goat. Peverel sacrificed Cirrus knowing that the Whistle Blowers Charter would ensure that both Peverel Management Services Ltd trading as Peverel Retirement and Cirrus would both be immune from prosecution.

          The fact the only sanctions threatened during the entire fiasco were against the Carlex Whistle-Blowers, who were threatened with prosecution. Was any action taken against the OFT during the four-year long inquiry.

          The OFT refused my application under the Freedom of Information Act stating it was not in the Public Interest for them to explain what had occurred or name the Big Fish who perpetrated the Tender Rigging and Price Fixing, but readily exposed the Small Fish who were only Peverel subcontractors.

          I agree with Sir Peter Bottomley when he publicly stated that he believed a crime had taken place and us posters also ensured the issue got the widest media coverage.

          I believed there were 3 complaints not just the complaint made by Alex concerning Residential House Managers Flat Sales.

          Will ARMA admit FirstPort Retirement even as an Associate Member? Imagine the posting if this happened. Also as you have posted what will the existing members do if they are allowed any level of membership. Could this be the end of ARMA as an organisation whose main aim seems to be to protect Peverel/Firstport at all costs.

          • Michael Hollands says:

            I do not share the confidence that Carlex have in thinking that ARMA will reject the FP Retirement application to join ARMA Q. [This is not the view of Carlex.]
            Why did Nigel Glen say it would be better to have FP in the fold than outside.
            And Keith Hill wrote to Sir Peter stating that it was now open for FP to apply for Q
            It has long been my opinion that ARMA should persuade FP to fully compensate for ALL it’s indiscretions as a condition for obtaining membership.
            I have suggested this to both parties several times.
            FP always say it has already been settled and ARMA never say anything.
            This solution would be beneficial to FP, ARMA and the Leaseholder victims and mean we could put these issues finally to bed.
            I applied for the Regulator’s job but obviously failed.
            My first action would have been to sort the FP problem and I hope that the new Regulator will see fit to do this.
            The problem has existed for far too long, I wonder how many of the Price Fixing victims are still living.

    • Alex,

      The fact other Firstport companies are already accredited by ARMA, sharing Common Directors, did not allow any form of membership for the past 18 months. In refusing to allow Firstport/Peverel Retirement to be a member, they must have considered that Peverel/Firstport Retirement were not a fit enough company, even to be an Associate Member, so what changed their mind?

      Had ARMA purposely waited for two further small complaints, so they were able to lump them together in one Disciplinary Hearing, then say two out of three ain`t bad?

      The Price Fixing Scandal where Peverel Retirement, through Peverel Group in 2009, informed the OFT that for 5 years, two Peverel Companies used 3 subcontractors to tender false bogus prices for work, where Peverel would always be the lowest tenderer.

      Then the 3 subcontractors would carry out the contract for less costs than were tendered for and Peverel Retirement would then take a further fee, as the main contractor, charging 2.5% attendance fees.

      The refusing of any form of membership for 18 months has been an embarrassment to Peverel Retirement and the whole Peverel Group. That explains the name change to Firstport Retirement.

      As for ARMA they have become a total embarrassment to whole leasehold industry. Peverel Directors have been working for ARMA since they were set up. Peverel were their biggest funders. ARMA was to ensure that what ever Peverel were found doing, it would be covered up, allowing them to be treated with kid gloves. This is why no evidence was found of Peverel Price Fixing even though they owned up to doing, just that.

      • Michael Epstein says:

        Do you remember Janet Entwistle, the former CEO of Peverel saying that changing the name of the company was not an option?

  10. Michael Epstein says:

    I admit I may be flying a kite on this, but can someone check as to whether Proxima GR are the actual freeholders at Willow and Tatton Court?
    I was under the impression that Proxima GR normally held the freeholds for general developments, whereas retirement developments came under the Fairhold division.
    It has happened in the past where E&M in their confusion have acted on behalf of the wrong freeholder.

  11. RTM applications get rejected due to minor spelling mistakes, or incorrect addresses. I would have thought knowing this Ms Earnshaw may have taken the time to read, re-read (and possibly as E&M charge for) have a solicitor read the information being sent. Having said that, I notice from Ms Earnshaws response the following (and this is by no means exhaustive)

    “I am writing in response to you recent bulletin posted on CARLEX” – is there an R missing? RTM rejected
    “The result was in every case a minimum 95% wanting to appoint SRS at one block it was !00%.” So if you live in flat 100, but your Invitation states !00 = RTM rejected

    “Residents in retirement schemes do not always want to pursue RTM as they believe it is onerous task and lack volunteers to see it through although attitudes do seem to be changing this has been apparent from messages we have received on our website contact page.” Missing a word from an address (or a Notice of Invitation To Participate) – you guessed it – RTM objected

    MINOR mistakes can cost an RTM a large sum of money in the Freeholders legal fees, and as previous cases have noted, there own! Would I be happy to go with Ms Earnshaws firm after this latest statement? NO!! RTM is a big decision and I want trust in those in charge of it – this statement just lost Ms Earnshaw the little credibility I saw in her.

    I would assume that Mr Earnshaw as Company Secretary whould check his information being provided to Companies House before submitting it? Or maybe he just likes 1950 as a birthdate? Just like some Freeholders agents like double paying bills “by accident” and only rectify when those that have paid for the service challenge it after having to go through hours of paperwork (which is confusing due to the system in place!) E&M would have a field day (and no doubt they will) which will reflect in the inhouse solicitor suddenly earning hundreds of pound an hour to point out the error!

    On an ending note – if Select Retirement Services have been appointed for some “non retirement sites”, does it not make you wonder if they originally tried to become the new “cash grabbers” at any expense? Ie we aim to work for retirement sites but will take anything that pays? I will be interested to see next years accounts for “SRS”

    • Bernard,

      You are right that RTM is all about not forgetting to cross a every single “t” or dot every single “i”. It is not something I could do in a million years. However, I also noticed SBS letter refers to “Mr Kelly” at one point.

      We see time after time cases where a single failure in the notice is used as an excuse to reject. On almost all occasions this seems nothing more than a cynical ploy to run up costs and delay the process. No doubt the lawyers laugh all the way to the bank as they conjure up arguments about what the correct position in writing to someone who has just passed away, or that a Fred should have been recorded as a Frederick, or that a single sheet of weatherboard means the site does not qualify.

      The fault for this sits with government officials who could and should have done something about this many years ago. That means we either had officials who deluded themselves that things were “mostly working well”; or that they were misinformed by some of those who operate in the sector. Fortunately, officials have now changed, but it will take some time for the new officials to understand that RTM has badly under-performed in achieving many of the objectives set by Parliament.

      • Michael Epstein says:

        Wishful thinking, I know, but it can’t be beyond the wit of man or beast to alter the process of RTM, so that should an RTM be challenged by the freeholder, the RTM company can have 28 days from the objections being served to address the freeholder’s concerns? Only then should an RTM challenge come before the tribunal.

  12. Michael Epstein says:

    Having contributed to Carlex since its inception and having read all the contributions very carefully, i find Bernard’s contribution very puzzling?
    Of course Bernard has the right to express his views, i have no problem with that.
    What is very odd, that he has never posted on any website about any issue, except this one.
    I wonder who you really are Bernard?

    • Someone that has lost a considerable amount due to a failed RTM due to errors – legal fees of E&M ruined a sale I had in progress – I could post under any other name should I choose but Bernard is more than enough to identify me to those who could further affect my life in a retirement site

      • Thank you for your contribution, Bernard. It is always refreshing to hear new voices on this site.

        Your point that Mrs Earnshaw’s company is unqualified to carry out RTM at these sites does not need labouring further.

        But you prompt the question whether it has already cost the residents money.

        There would be costs from E&M solicitors to consider an RTM application. We must hope that these have not been incurred, or if they have, that they were not onerous.

        It would be very welcome indeed to hear views from residents at Tatton and Willow Court.

  13. Michael Epstein says:

    For the first time since Carlex was set up, I am wondering if there is more to this than meets the eye.
    Whilst, perfectly justifiable to report on the problems experienced at Willow and Tatton Court and to express concerns over Select Retirement Services, the antagonistic nature of Carlex’s articles (for example the initial use of the term “turncoat”) makes me wonder if their is another agenda here?
    I remember, not so long ago, how concerns were expressed about Dudley Joiner and the RTMF. Carlex did a brilliant job. They exposed the true nature of the way they operated, without any of the bile that has been exhibited in this case.
    To say that in my opinion this is unfortunate, is an understatement. That after all these years, I suddenly find my posts “Awaiting Moderation” is regrettable.
    Of course Carlex has the absolute right to decide what stories are covered and what posts are allowed.
    I have no objection to that.
    It is however, a shame that so much time has been dedicated to this subject, at a time when for example Peverel/Firstport have just pleaded guilty to four counts under Health & Safety legislation(including Causation Of Death) in relation to the death of Irene Cockerton in the Gibson Court fire.
    Time was, when that would have featured on Carlex.

    • I am appalled by this comment, with its suggestion that Carlex is advancing some secret agenda at Tatton and Willow Courts.

      We have no agenda beyond defending the interests of the residents, who are stalled in right to manage applications.

      We have suggested in correspondence to a resident more than a week before the publication of this article some alternative strategies to those pursued by Select Retirement Services. If that means we have a secret agenda, so be it. We will do the same for any retirement site in a similar predicament.

      We understand that SRS, following publication of this issue on Carlex, is now discontinuing its RTM endeavours and that Mr Earnshaw has stood down as company secretary of the companies.

      It is hugely to the credit of the Earnshaws that they are doing this, rather than hanging on to RTM companies that are going nowhere. We wish their property management enterprise the best good fortune, as it builds on the sites it already has.

      I am surprised at the suggestion that we have resorted to “bile” to make our case in this article.

      In the initial headline we did describe Mrs Earnshaw as an “ex-Peverel turncoat”, and some readers found this to be offensive language, although not Mrs Earnshaw to our knowledge.

      To Mrs Earnshaw, if she is offended or even aware of this previous headline, we unreservedly apologise.

      Turncoat has always struck me as relatively mild, and occasionally – as here – a positive course of action, although it does have predominantly negative connotations.

      On reflection, as noted by Chas above, emotive language of this sort is best used in other publications rather than Carlex.

      Leaving aside the precise language to describe Mrs Earnshaw’s position, we nonetheless hope that as many ex-Peverel executives decide to follow her example by setting up for themselves.

      The more competition at every level in the property management business the better it will be for all leaseholders.

      The above comment also criticises Carlex for spending too long on the issues of Tatton and Willow Courts, rather than address the county court case at Guildford considering the fire at Gibson Court in September 2011 in which Irene Cockerton died. http://www.carlex.org.uk/?s=gibson+court

      We believe that we were right to address the issues at Tatton and Willow Courts, and the results are very encouraging.

      It is the case that we should report the county court case, but we simply have not found the hours in the day to do so. As I am writing this at past one in the morning, I hope that Carlex readers will be forgiving.

      Sebastian O’Kelly
      Carlex

  14. Martin Boyd
    Carlex

    There is another quite important reason for not reporting the latest situation at Gibson Court yet, which is that we are still waiting for a formal statement from Surrey Country Council prior to the court’s findings. Once we have those we will also approach FirstPort for comment.

    Carlex always has, and always will, report as fairly as we can. As part of a charity we have an obligation to comply with a strict set of rules in what we do.

    It is inevitable that managing agents accuse us of bias and landlords assure us of being unfair. Even barristers occasionally complain that it’s not right that we criticise their approach to disputes.

    It is surprising, though, that leaseholders feel it relevant to suggest an imagined hidden agenda just because we criticise a managing agent who does not happen to be FirstPort.

    Having done more than most to make Peverel pay for its failings in the past, I find the suggestions of bias in favour of FirstPort or some sort of hidden agenda something of a joke.

    However, I have also never seen the work that we do as a vendetta for past grievances. It is about improving the sector.

    FirstPort, as the largest agent in the retirement sector, inevitably produces more complaints than most.

    But there are plenty of other companies that should also be doing a better job.

    Instead of simply criticising FirstPort, we try to work with it constructively and have met its CEO with MPs on a number of occasions. We will meet again, soon.

    FirstPort senior executives also attend our roundtable meetings in Parliament, and have even contributed constructively to our work on improving the system for recognising residents’ associations.

    They might even criticise us for not commenting, positively, on their successes in providing accounts on time – something that too many agents still fail to do. That said, FirstPort is still a company with many problems, and too many unhappy customers.

    LKP/Carlex has also spent years working with government behind the scenes to get it to understand that the sector is much larger than it thought and that there are far more problems than it had understood.

    This seemed a better approach than just berating everyone about their failings, while proffering some imagined solution.

    As a result there is now a chance for change, with the first small part of that change coming in the Housing and Planning Act.

    This seems a better option than just shouting in the wind.

  15. Michael Hollands says:

    As someone who favours the constructive approach ( but then I am not a Peverel/First Port resident) I applaud Carlex/LKP on the way they handle these situations.
    Unfortunately Carlex/LKP, their small band of supporters and a few MPs appear to be a lone voice.
    One would have hoped for more support from the Government, ARMA, ARHM, etc but they all appear to prefer promoting their own interests rather than helping the victims of an industry they represent.

    • Michael,

      We thank you for that.

      It would be wrong to think that Carlex / LKP has little support, or that that support is expressed solely through published comments on the websites.

      It is very welcome when people like Bernard, above, make a thoughtful and timely contribution. But most people, even when retired and having grievances with service charges, have better things to do than grouse on Carlex.

      Far more numerous are those who contact us, and those who read the sites. The fact that on a day in mid-August, 595 individual visitors came to the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership website (www.leaseholdknowledge.com), and 415 came to Carlex is indicative of interest in leasehold issues.

      Many are professionals in the sector, who watch for every slip and stumble, and who have noted the self-indulgent comments on this particular post.

      But I do not think there are grounds for pessimism.

      For the first time there is an unambiguous, pro-leaseholder organisation hosting Westminster roundtables (as opposed to the self-interested trade-bodies and other doubtful “stakeholders” who get rounded up – not one of whom has represented the owners of flats who pay for this racket).

      Then there is the new All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold, with 35-40 MPs meeting in September.

      It would be wrong to underestimate the knowledge of the better politicians. For example, Lord Young, formerly Sir George Young, who moved our amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill, is alive to the issues of leasehold from his housing minister days in the Nineties.

      Since then, of course, the population has surged and the leasehold sector has doubled. It will double again if we take house building seriously, as the days when urban and suburban people lived in houses is coming to an end here. We will live in flats, like people in other highly populated countries

      As political attention turns to housing – we meet the new housing minister in early September – can be added access to digital knowledge.

      Nothing in leasehold – the Land Registry, the incompetent court records, tribunal judgements that are unsearchable pdfs – is now closed to us.

      The cliché in leasehold is that leaseholders are ignorant. Unfortunately, it is true and it suits the sector just fine.

      Vast numbers of surveyors and lawyers prosper, usually quite modestly, because of this shambles. And a few are very rich.

      It is depressing that a businessman like Will Astor, the half-brother of Samantha Cameron and heir to the viscountcy, and who was mentored by Vincent Tchenguiz, is bothering with leasehold.

      With his connections and knowledge – and access to Chinese money – there were numerous other creative businesses he could have explored. Instead, he has a £700 million portfolio of residential freeholds through Long Harbour. These include retirement sites in North Wales.

      This is the business model of Sir Thomas Grovesnor 300 years ago. It was his marriage to a 12-year-old scrivener’s daughter, whose dowry was 300 acres of what is now Mayfair and Belgravia, that established the fortune of the dukes of Westminster.

      Modern flat owners should not be putting up with perpetuating more of this nonsense.

      In the rest of the world (including Scotland) leasehold does not happen. We need to stop making more of it.

      Digital knowledge and data are going to be core to this.

      LKP / Carlex is going to need to be resourced properly and become more professional. There will be announcements about this in September as well.

      At risk of rambling, but I know you have a serious interest in this subject, I would say that ignorance of leasehold in all its ignominy even extends to those employed in the sector.

      Yesterday I met three London surveyors involved in lease extension and enfranchisement work. They have 90-odd professional years between them and have seen every scam conceivable in high-end London property.

      Even they were aghast at hearing the story of the Dennis Jackson case, round the corner from their offices.

      This involved a 73-year-old man contesting £7,000 in service charges being beset with dubious legal costs that had been racked up to an outrageous £80,000. He collapsed, his co-respondent and neighbour had a heart attack and died, and he had his £800,000 Battersea flat forfeited from him.

      The decision on whether to make Mr Jackson destitute and homeless was made in a court in 10 minutes.

      Martin and I were thrown out of court because the freeholder’s barrister objected in particular to my presence, as a journalist, in the court to witness a private money matter where Mr Jackson’s human rights were also a consideration.

      That is, the human rights of the man he was set on absolutely ruining.

      The barrister for the mortgage lender – which would pick up the bill – said he had no objection to our presence; Mr Jackson asked the judge that we could stay. But we were thrown out.

      In a closed court, the decision was made whether or not to take from Mr Jackson everything that he owned.

      Every lawyer I have discussed this with has difficulty believing it. So did these surveyors, who thought that they had seen it all …

      The full story can be read here: http://www.leaseholdknowledge.com/how-lkp-overturned-a-forfeiture-order-on-this-pensioners-800000-flat-after-a-7500-lvt-dispute

      Sebastian

  16. Michael Epstein says:

    With regard to Peverel/Firstport, given it was their dire financial situation that was the cause of the price fixing and the very poor service plus the insurance commission racket and any number of overcharges, would it not be appropriate to give some publicity over Firstport’s current financial position?
    After, their income is derived from residents?
    So when the owners of Firstport are charging interest rates of between 9% and 15% and RBS are forcing Firstport to reduce their loan facility by 1m pounds every 6 months, alarm bells should be ringing?
    When it comes to the sale of House Manager’s flats (which according to Firstport is to save residents service charges, it may not be in the public domain that a letter was sent out by senior staff to say that Firstport were well short of their target to sell 31 house managers flats and more must be done to meet those targets.

    • There are many articles about FirstPort but it gets very repetitive, and no doubt boring, for a number of the readers if every story goes back to them. The points you raise have been covered in many stories. They will no doubt be issues that raise themselves again.

      This is a story about a managing agent seeking to take a site RTM, and failing to get things right. An agent who used to work for FirstPort, and who initially approached E&M to take over the management from her ex-employer offering to replace them on behalf of the landlord. Only after the landlord declined did she approach the leaseholders to suggest RTM. That seems to comply with the definition of “a person who deserts one party or cause in order to join an opposing one.”

      • Michael Hollands says:

        It is good to hear that some First Port senior executives attend your meetings and make some constructive contributions. Do you get the chance to impress upon them what they need to change and do? Or are they not the decision makers.
        It amazes me that they do not make the necessary adjustment, compensate for those past deeds, qualify for ARMA Q and maybe become a major force for good.
        Or am I not living in the real world?

        • The problem with Peverel / FirstPort, and the reason why ARMA should not admit FirstPort Retirement to membership, is that it comes with too much baggage.

          The current generation of senior management is largely blameless, although there should have been a complete clear-out over the price-fixing scandal.

          We are told that no one involved in assisting Cirrus to cheat pensioners is still employed.

          But then up popped one of the cheating contractors in the price-fixing scandal at a FirstPort site, as reported by Carlex here

          http://www.carlex.org.uk/beyond-belief-price-fixing-cheat-glyn-jackson-back-peverel-sites/

          So, it is evident Peverel / FirstPort did not take the price-fixing disgrace that seriously.

          But far worse than the price-fixing is the asset-stripping. Why does FirstPort own a portfolio of house managers’ flats?

          The answer is that its former proprietor helped himself to them and, after his arrest by the Serious Fraud Office, they somehow ended up belonging to Peverel / FirstPort.

          The portfolio is essential to the company’s revival.

          At some point, it is to be hoped that this issue has its day in court.

          ARMA should have some respect for its existing members: no other property manager has a subsidiary with a ruling against it from the OFT for systematically cheating the elderly; no other property manager is known to have has such dubious assets on its books.

          The toxic reputation of Peverel / FirstPort has seen the company decline.

          It has lost the management contracts of virtually all prime London. All the high-end riverside Berkeley group schemes are now run by other companies (Rendall & Rittner being the chief beneficiary).

          The only one that comes to mind is SEone, with 969 flats, where the residents are finally poised to take control.

          But it is hardly prime London, nor is it very riverside, unless you include Deptford creek.

          Nonetheless, it appears to be the last jewel in FirstPort’s once extensive London portfolio.

          I would make a wider point. Your notion that shame alone will change things shows a generational confidence that fairness will eventually prevail.

          Will it? The pessimism about corporate governance in this country is widespread. Even my old editor Charles Moore, in the Daily Telegraph, muses about whether modern capitalism is not a complete con after all.

          Bob Bessell, the founder of Retirement Securities and a lifelong Conservative, is similarly despairing at the void of ethical values in business.

          There have always been people like Tchenguiz and Sir Phillip Green. But if society does not have the wherewithal to impose restraint or sanction, what does that tell you about the state of society?

          • Michael Hollands says:

            Yes you are correct in that I have for some years hoped that fairness would prevail.
            At least in the Retirement Leasehold industry, where it is dealing with more vulnerable of customers.
            Unfortunately there are some who regard us as “cash cows” and at the same time give an awful service for the money.
            I think the point at which most of us starting campaigning for change was after the May 2010 General Election. When Grant Shapps binned the proposed reforms.
            One would have thought that by now the Government, ARHM, ARMA, etc would have got it sorted.
            It is nice to hear Carlex/LKP is having some success and things are likely to improve.
            But probably too late for many of those 2010 campaigners.

  17. This Early Day Motion No. 408 proposed by Barry Sheerman, MP Hudderfield identified ” Estates and Management ” ( E & M) controlled by Tchenguiz Family Trust via a complex structure of companies based in Bahamas and British Virgin Island as an exploiter of leaseholders :

    http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2004-05/408

    This shows that E & M was identified and known to MPs in Parliament more than 10 years ago.