May 22, 2017

Healey Court wins right to manage on second attempt

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Healey Court, in Warwick, was taken right to manage last week by Walton and Allen managing agents

Healey Court, in Warwick, was taken right to manage last week by Walton and Allen managing agents

By Les Thumwood

After eight months, Healey Court, a retirement development of 67 apartments in Warwick, has extricated itself from the grips of FirstPort and opted for right to manage.

With the backing of the vast majority of the residents, it has achieved right to manage with the help of Walton and Allan, of Nottingham, which is an accredited managing agent with Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.

A tipping point was reached when residents at Healey Court, which was built in 1989, felt concern over a quotation from FirstPort Retirement to replace the lighting with LED units.

At that point, Healey Court dis not even have a residents’ association, but a small group examined right to manage as an alternative form of managing the site.

The findings were presented to the residents, who were overwhelmingly in favour of the move.

The residents gave the group instructions to find a new managing agent and it shortlisted Walton and Allan and another managing agent. Both were then interviewed, and they presented to the residents.

Within four weeks of being chosen to manage Healey Court, Mark Batty, of Walton and Allan, presented the first right to manage claim to the Tchenguiz group’s E&M. It was rejected.

A decision was made to withdraw our claim and start again. Mark Batty formulated a second claim with further information obtained from residents to cover the rejected items and this was accepted by E&M on September 7.

A statement from the group reads:

“Getting released from the clutches of FirstPort Retirement has already breathed fresh air into the development.

“The past few months has shown us that working together with Mark Batty, of Walton and Allan, Sebastian O’Kelly, of Carlex / LKP, and the support of residents at Healey Court has given us the confidence that we have made the right decision.

“We look forward to working closely with Walton and Allan to ensure an efficient and well run site which in turn will increase the value of our properties and make give us the security that our money is being spend wisely.

“We would thoroughly recommend that Carlex / LKP is an excellent place to start for any development thinking about RTM.”

Right to manage means that the residents of Healey Court no longer have a management company imposed on them by the freeholder, but have one which is accountable to themselves.

Mark Batty, of Walton and Allen, said: “Making a successful right to manage claim to a landlord who is resistant to RTM is not easy. It will not simply roll over.

“At Healey Court, I was more than assisted by a small group of dogged leaseholders whose passion and ability to gather various important nuggets of information made the difference.”

Mark added “that without this help, we would still not have been successful.”


Carlex adds: Les and Bridget Thumwood, owners at Healey Court, were instrumental in gaining the right to manage, working closely with Mark Batty. They should be congratulated and thanked by all residents at Healey Court.

They are both more than happy to share their experiences with other assisted living / retirement sites, via email on healeycourtrtm@yahoo.co.uk

Comments

  1. Michael Hollands says:

    There are apartments for sale at Healey Court.
    Both the Estate Agents who are selling them and the EAC/Housing Care organisation still state that the complex is managed by First Port.
    If the change of management was beneficial one would have thought this would be updated.
    Strangely, the selling Agent who does not mention First Port is Retirement Homesearch who are one and the same.

    • Les Thumwood says:

      Hi Michael
      We only acquired RTM on 7th September.
      We now have a three month handover period and during this time we still pay our service charge to FirstPort Retirement.

      • Les who is your:
        * Freeholder
        * Landlord
        If we went RTM – we would still have a Peverel Company as Landlord?

        Our residents are solely learning that Peverel as was – doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

        Watch – Peverel/Firstport spend in the 3 months – they do not like loosing developments.

        Check the last Financial Years – Trial Balance/Audit Trail from the previous year – they have a habit of duplication or placing items in two or more wrong categories.

        • Les Thumwood says:

          Hi Chas

          We have Proxima GR as our freeholder and pay our ground rent to them via Estates and Management. This will not, and cannot, change. (Unless Proxima GR sell the freehold)

          We are / have been managed by FirstPort Retirement and this will change.

          The problem with the current system is that FirstPort Retirement are employed by our freeholder – Proxima GR – and, as such, their allegiance is to them, not the residents. This is where the problem lies. Proxima GR could sack them, and in fact have been known to do just that to prevent an RTM claim. They then offer another of t heir buddies (Freemont etc) as managing agents.

          The difference for us now is that, on completion of our RTM claim (after the three months handover) we, the residents of Healey Court, will formally employ Walton and Allen as our managing agent. Their allegiance will be to the residents, as we have the power to sack them and change them at any time after the first years contract. They cannot spend anything without our say so! And the bonus is that with Walton and Allen being Leasehold Knowledge Partnership approved we also have the power to expose them, in the same way as people expose FirstPort. And I am sure they will not like Seb getting involved in that!

          You are quite correct that FirstPort do not do what it says on the tin. My thoughts are that it is all down to the debt they are in. They cut corners with staff who then cannot cope with the workload, resulting in errors and lack of service , I believe, many of the staff genuinely want to do a good job, but find it impossible to do so.

          Again you are spot on when you say that FirstPort do not like loosing developments. The reason is the same as before. They are in debt and need the income. But in the RTM process it is Estates and Management (in our case) who block claims on behalf of the freeholder / landlord. FirstPort have no say in it at all. The only way they can stop a RTM application is to pull their socks up in the hope that the residents will withdraw their claim.

          RTM is not an easy process. But t talking to many developments, we are convinced we have made the right decision and would encourage any other dissatisfied development to do the same.

          • Michael Epstein says:

            Les,
            Under the 1993 Leasehold & Tenant Act if enough leaseholders wish to, they can compel Proxima GR to sell the freehold to you. If Charter Quay is anything to go by, it will be at a fraction of the valuation put on it by Proxima GR.

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    Les,
    How could you leave Firstport?
    Doesn’t anyone at Healey Court care as to how Firstport are going to pay their debts, if they can no longer charge Healey Court residents imaginative amounts for their services?

    • Les Thumwood says:

      Michael E
      It’s been a very difficult decision for us all. We thought long and hard about it. It took 5 minutes to decide to look into the possibility and a 15 minute meeting for the rest of the development to agree with us!
      We decided that as we would not go into a shop and pay an increased price for goods we didn’t want to pay FirstPort inflated prices for services.
      As a start our management fees will be reduced by 47 percent
      and we are expecting cuts in most of our budget items.
      We also of course considered quality of service, and that was just a ‘no brainer’.
      So sincere apologies to FirstPort and to the residents who are still opening their wallets to them and saying ‘take what you want!’

      • Les Thumwood,

        I am surprised you took so long, looking into the possibility of RTM.

        Please continue posting, this good news has given me a boost.

        We have a new Area Manager who has been in place since 06/06/16 and has shown no more interest than the last two AM who were moved on after been shown to be ineffectual.

  3. Michael Hollands says:

    If First Ports management fees can be reduced by 47% and they still make losses and their Parent companies and Banks are very concerned about their finances, which black hole is all this money disappearing into.
    Is it all going to pay off loans and will this situation ever end.

  4. Its time the UK banks withdraw from supporting abusive managing agents and the Ground rent Freehold financing of unscrupulous companies..

    I would nominate RBS to withdraw from financing Firstport because RBS is propped up by tax payers money -our taxes are being loaned to support the unscrupulous freeholders and their agents .

    When RBS has recovered , and HQ being based in Edinburgh, then the bank will be handed to Nicola

    • Michael Epstein says:

      Ollie,
      Suppose residents took out an RBS credit card and used it to pay Firstport’s service charges?
      Then they could claim against the credit card company for services paid for but not delivered under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. RBS would have to refund the residents and claim the funds back from Firstport.