April 23, 2017

Freemont Property Managers in show-down over RTM at Grace Darling House

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Residents at Grace Darling House, in Poole, are divided over appointing senior ex-Peverel executives at new company Freemont Property Managers to take the site right to manage

Residents at Grace Darling House, in Poole, are divided over appointing senior ex-Peverel executives at new company Freemont Property Managers to take the site right to manage

Next Wednesday former chief executive of Peverel Retirement Keith Edgar will try to persuade residents at Grace Darling House in Poole to appoint his new company Freemont Property Managers to take the site right to manage.

A minority of residents are deeply concerned at the proposal, with many feeling that they would be better off remaining with housing association Stonewater.

Residents have received and circulated an anonymous letter urging residents to avoid Freemont Property Management, referencing the former Peverel executives behind it. It also refers to the Office of Fair Trading ruling over the Peverel / Cirrus price fixing scandal of December 2013.

In a further complication, residents claim only one director of the RTM company, June Hawkins, is backing the move with Freemont Property Managers.

The other director, Kenneth Lippett, is said to have stood down.

Residents claim that Freemont Property Managers will absorb the costs of RTM in exchange for a two-year management contract.

Carlex would question whether the interests of residents are served by the appointment of a company headed by individuals who have spent their careers in property management resisting leaseholder empowerment.

If this right to manage application is also causing division and ill-feeling, residents may well be better off simply remaining with Stonewater.

Carlex has not received any complaints about the housing association.

It is sad to urge caution over a right to manage application, which is generally a very good thing. But if it is a source of disharmony, it may well be better to leave it for the moment.

A final point is that the residents who have contacted Carlex have not seen the articles and memoranda of association of the RTM company, which will explain how it is governed.

Unless Grace Darling House can elect – not appoint – three independent minded directors, representing the views of the residents, it would be better to halt this.

One dominant director should not be taking a site to RTM.

Comments

  1. Keith Edgar, was the MD at Peverel Retirement when four Peverel Holding Companies were placed in administration. Keith Edgar wrote to us saying nothing would change and thing would stay the same.

    He did not take into account that we then had to pay VAT of £2,000 as we were no longer in the same company group and we were purchased out of administration, which was incorrect. He was right in a way that thing didn’t change we are still paying:-
    * excessive insurance commissions
    * excessive insurance premiums
    * insurance claims place in wrong category
    * duplication of training and travel cost
    * poor management
    * other exploitations

    Keith Edgar also decided to visit and insult my friend Norman Greed,just to insult him. I do not believe that this Director of Freemont should have anything to do with leasehold. Check out his past association with Peverel Retirement and the Price Fixing Scandal.

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    I feel sure that should the meeting proceed, Mr Edgar will give a slick and very convincing presentation.
    That said, the meeting could become very interesting if any of the residents ask Mr Edgar about the price fixing, or the record refunds of service charges ordered by tribunals in cases such as City Heights, or perhaps the treatment meted out to WW2 Squadron Leader Eric Mathews aged 96 as described in the Strand Court, Rye tribunal decision?
    Even better if the residents ask Mr Edgar about the circumstances that led David Cameron(whilst he was Prime Minister) to order Mr Edgar to leave a development that he was managing in Witney ?
    It is difficult enough to appoint a reputable managing agent, even after taking due diligence.
    To appoint a managing agent with the well documented appalling track record of Keith Edgar is asking for trouble.

    • Carlex Comment:-

      “Carlex would question whether the interests of residents are served by the appointment of a company headed by individuals who have spent their careers in property management resisting leaseholder empowerment”

      These 4 directors of Freemont have track records, when they all worked for Peverel Retirement the fact they resisted leasehold empowerment was so they could continue to benefit from Leasehold Exploitation.

      The company Freemont should be investigated by Companies House and ARMA, oops, I forgot they are an ARMA Associate Member?

      • Michael Epstein says:

        ARMA are a toothless body that cannot get away from the clear conflict of interest that comes from relying on membership financial support to survive. Thus making it incredibly unlikely that they would ever expel a major management company.
        What would give ARMA a great deal of credibility is if they adopted the ABTA governance.
        If property management companies were to be bonded by ARMA, that is something that really would give confidence to residents using an ARMA member.

        • Yes of course ARMA is a trade body supported by its members fees. In does not have the powers of ABTA partly becasue it does not have the government backing that ABTA derives from ATOL ABTA has grown over many years and controls almost the whole market with very few travel companies operating outside the ABTA regime.

          The leasehold sector is less developed. ARMA used to say it controlled about a third of the market but since LKP helped everyone understand the sector is much bigger the new numbers means ARMA controls less than 25% of the leasehold market – although it should be remembered that not all the market needs the services of a managing agent.

          Nearly 27% of ARMA members chose to leave, or could not comply, when ARMA-Q code came into force. So clearly ARMA-Q has at least some teeth and some ability to decide not to include the worst offenders and did decide to cut its own income by letting members go. The largest company to leave was Countrywide so the argument about major companies also does not hold.

          It is important to understand that the fault lies at least in part not with ARMA but with governments who have repeatedly told the sector to get on and regulate itself. At the same time government has failed to impose any obligation on any company to be part of these groups and has given no powers to take any strong action.

          Unlike ARMA-Q both the RICS code and the ARHM code do at least have statutory approval. However as readers will know the RICS code is mostly only tested in the tribunal and RICS themselves make clear that failure to comply with the RICS code by a RICS member does not give rise to an automatic breach of RICS’s own bye laws. The ARHM code is good but has historically been weakly enforced.

          The ombudsman scheme exists which all agents must be part of but few people use and which again produces mostly lower level results.

          At the moment this means we have matters where consumers are not clear if they should go to the courts, the tribunals, the ombudsman or the trade bodies.

          There are moves to take the sector towards a single consolidated code which is something LKP/Carlex has argued for over a number of years. It is likley it will take some years before such a scheme comes into force which covers the social, private residential and retirement sectors.

          .

          .

          • Michael Epstein says:

            Oddly, despite losing members the introduction of ARMA-Q coincided with a considerable improvement in the trading position of ARMA. I note that Nigel Glen has stood down as a director of ARMA. Is this standard practice when appointed CEO of a company?r

          • Michael Hollands says:

            It would be surprising if ARMA regarded Countryside as one of the worst offenders as in every year since 2009 they have averaged 30 Awards a year.
            What does this say about ARMA or the Awards.

      • Michael Hollands says:

        According to Nigel Glen this type of company is better in the fold than outside.
        In fact, in theory, it would be better for ARMA to have the bad ones in and the good ones outside as they do not need reforming.
        ARMA could then stand for the Association of Rotten Managers Association.

  3. Michael Epstein says:

    Oddly, The Freemont Property Managers website, encourages residents to avoid going down the Right to Manage route. They suggest residents approach the freeholder with a view to appointing another manager.
    Since such a large number of retirement developments are managed by Peverel/Firstport who rely on their previous connection with the freeholding companies for up to 75% of their appointments to manage, it is very likely that the majority of developments that wanted a change in management would be managed by Peverel/Firstport and have the formerly connected companies as freeholders.
    Since it was the current directors of Freemont that worked hand in glove for the benefit of the freeholders when running Peverel/Firstport, it comes as no surprise to find the freeholders want to be re-united with Keith Edgar, Nigel Bannister and the rest of the property management gangsters?

  4. Michael Epstein says:

    For those wishing to appoint Freemont Property Manages (who are the same people who ran Peverel/Firstport) perhaps you could ask Mr Edgar as to why he thinks, McCarthy & Stone sacked them from every development they could and why Barratt Homes and other high profile developers also rid themselves of Peverel?
    What do they know about Freemont that June Hawkins doesnt?

  5. Michael,

    What a tangle web is Freemont were set up by ex Peverel Group Hierarchy of Directors.

    After 2005/09 – Price Fixing was uncovered at Peverel Management Services Developments along with many other Scams initiated at senior management level. Peverel Group Company’s, include:
    * Peverel Retirement
    * Cirrus Communication
    * Kingsborough Insurance

    To hide the past scams in 2015 Peverel Group decided to get rid of the Peverel names.

    * Peverel Retirement – became Firstport Retirement

    * Cirrus Communication – became Appello

    * Kingsborough Insurance – became Firstport Retirement

    These companies were expert in paying over Service Charges to each other where £100,000 was paid back by Peverel Retirement for just one of the scams, where they made £1.4 million pounds by Price Fixing.

    In 2015 four of the EX Peverel Directors set up Fremont Property Managers.

    MEET THE TEAM

    Nigel Bannister – Director
    Kevin Barr – Director
    Philip Cummings – Director
    Keith Edgar – Director
    Pat McEvoy – Property Manager

  6. ERROR

    * Kingsborough Insurance became Firstport Insurance.

    Sorry Carlex and Posters

    Chas

  7. Michael Hollands says:

    Does anyone know how last weeks meeting at Grace Darling House went with Keith Edgar?

    • Apparently, Mr Edgar referenced the letter, explained that the price-fixing concerned a subsidiary of Peverel, that Peverel helped the OFT with its inquiry, and there was no ruling of fault against Peverel or its staff.

      It appears the residents are proceeding with RTM with Freemont, which will be given a two-year contract.

      Carlex has advised Grace Darling RTM to have a minimum of three RTM directors who are leaseholder residents.

      • To say that Peverel were not blame as the main instigator to the Price Fixing Scandal is another Keith Edgar Spin. Cirrus Communication were hung out to dry by Peverel, now Firstport Retirement.

        For Keith Edgar to say there was no ruling of fault against Peverel or its staff is Smoke and Mirrors. Who provided the 65 developments that Cirrus Communications cheated.

        How could a small company Cirrus be responsible for the Price Fixing, when Peverel were a multi-million pound company having 1500 developments compared to Cirrus whose workforce was not large enough or capable of undertaking 13 contracts a year for 5 years?

        The losing tenderers were given the contracts that Cirrus couldn’t cope with, some like us at Ashbrook Court who lost the emergency system in June 2007 and it took 9 months for Cirrus to replace?

        • Michael Epstein says:

          Nor should it be forgotten that Cirrus shared the same offices as Peverel.
          Carlex could not have done more to protect the residents at Grace Darling House.
          In the light of the decision they have made to give Freemont a two year contract (however perverse that decision may be?) i sincerely hope they at least take the Carlex advice to have a minimum of three RTM directors who are leaseholders.
          Additionally, those directors need to make sure that they have comprehensive Director Insurance against any liabilities that might occur in the future.
          Who knows? It could be in the future that they are challenged for not taking reasonable care when appointing Freemont, given the sheer scale of information, widely available into the past conduct of those now running Freemont?

        • Cirrus Communication as the smaller company, took the blame for the Price Fixing, and was sacrificed by the directors to protect Peverel Retirement.

          Keith Edgars interpretation of what happened is pure spin.

          To say price-fixing concerned a subsidiary of Peverel is a joke. It allowed Peverel to be seen as the damaged company and not the main company involved.

          Peverel is now called Firstport Retirement – Cirrus Communication now trade as Appello. Both changed names to hide the fact they were involved.

          Keith Edgar also stated, “Peverel helped the OFT with its inquiry” – of course he did. If he hadn’t Peverel could have been found guilty of Collusive Tendering, with a potential fine of 10% of the companies worth. This could have meant a fine, circa £1.9 million pounds? Instead Peverel paid £100,000 compensation between 65 Price Fixed Pensioner Developments. Was this considered Fair Trading. The OFT being a Government Body, refused to take the case any further.

          Keith Edgar also said “there was no ruling of fault against Peverel or its staff.”

          This is correct at the time, but it lead to massive redundancy’s the following year, removing almost all of those, that implemented the Price Fixing.

          • Michael Epstein says:

            After Keith Edgar, Nigel Bannister and the rest of the former crew that left Peverel/Firstport to form Freemont, it may be of interest to learn that provisions of around 8 million pounds had to be placed on the Peverel/Firstport accounts due to historical resident disputes arising from the stewardship of Peverel/Firstport under Keith Edgar and Nigel Bannister.
            I wonder if the good people at Grace Darling House are aware of this?
            Could they really find no other property management company(out of the hundreds that exist) with a better track record when they made an appointment?

  8. Michael Epstein says:

    Message to the residents of Grace Darling House,
    You can’t lead a horse to water, but you can lead the gullible to Freemont!

  9. Trevor Bradley says:

    I am away on holiday but still have to read whats new when I can. Cannot believe it. Residents of Grace Darling, you are crazy, please please do not sign up with Freemont. Take guidance from Calex and people like M Epstein

    • I’m a resident of GDH. I do not want this change. I do not want Freemont. I do not even want Right To Manage. I am happy with StoneWater. What can I do? Help!

  10. Michael Hollands says:

    It might be that the residents of Grace Darling have negotiated a good deal, and it is only for two years.
    With so much publicity being given to it and with Freemont striving for full ARMA Q membership they may be ok.
    Could the residents of Grace Darling please keep us on this website updated as to how things work out.
    I am sure the directors of Freemont are well aware of what makes good management despite their past shocking activities. I bet they manage this one as clean as a whistle.

    • Simon Williams says:

      Perhaps the Directors of Freemont may like to keep this website updated on how things work out? Good marketing exercise for them – or otherwise! Imagine being able to give evidence of 20% savings and prompt, efficient service with replies to queries etc. We may all want to employ them!!! But then, having worked with them all in the past, maybe not!

  11. Michael Epstein says:

    Good Idea, Simon Williams,
    Let us see if the Freemont Leopard has stripes!

  12. Trevor Bradley says:

    Given their past record I would ban them for life for working in any management position, let alone give them another chance of any description

  13. Michael Hollands says:

    I think with all this attention upon them Freemont will have to manage Grace Darling “squeaky clean”
    It may well be that the residents have played this really cool with all this exposure and our sympathy is misplaced.
    They have taken the plunge and it may work out, I hope they will keep us informed of their experiences.
    As GRACE herself once said way back in 1838
    “Dad, if we don’t jump in the row boat we will never make the journey”.

  14. Michael Epstein says:

    I believe the name Grace Darling is taken from the name of the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, who braved stormy seas to come to the aid of passengers trapped on a sinking ship.
    Perhaps therefore it is appropriate that the residents of Grace Darling House appointed Freemont?
    Abandon Ship! Abandon Ship!