… and freeholders’ barrister Justin Bates loses again
London freeholder Israel Moskovitz and his associate Joseph Gurvits have failed to thwart the right to manage of a retirement leasehold site in Plymouth.
But their legal stratagems will have delayed the process by more than 20 months by the time the pensioners take control of the building and its accounts in October.
The decision by the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) is a vindication of the Regent Court residents’ claim – even though some of the original RTM applicants have since died.
“It has been one hard slog, but we are absolutely thrilled to bits,” says Betty Chapple, 83, a director of the RTM company. “We started this three years ago and are at last rid of these people.”
Moskovitz picked up the freehold of Regent Court at auction with his vehicle Avon Freeholds Limited, and moved in his associate Joseph Gurvits, of Y and Y Management, to manage the site.
Gurvits is known to London leaseholders as the director of Eagerstates managing agents, which is run by his wife and son. He was named in the House of Commons on January 23 by Sir Peter Bottomley.
“Only after you have gone through the agony of this whole process do you realize how much better it would have been had we bought the freehold,” says Betty.
“My advice to anyone in the same position is to consider this. It would have saved us so much grief at the hands of these people.
“But who when they are retired wants to spend their savings on buying the freehold?”
A second Plymouth retirement site, Elim Court, which failed to win RTM at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, is also fighting on against Moskovitz and Gurvits. In this case, it is the residents who are demanding an appeal.
Both RTMs are being handled by the Right to Manage Federation, based in Uckfield, East Sussex, and run by Dudley Joiner.
The failure of the Moskovitz and Gurvits appeal was also a defeat for freeholder’s barrister Justin Bates.
In May, Bates was to have given an arguably inappropriate presentation to the annual conference of LEASE, the Leasehold Advisory Service, on how managing agents should deal with leaseholder cross-examination at LVT.
At extremely short notice, he did not turn up to the event, where the surprise attendee was Sir Peter Bottomley, MP, who has sharply criticised freeholder legal stratagems in the Commons. He described the Oakland Court case, involving Bates, as “legal torture”.
An additional cause for ill-feeling at Regent Court is that the roof was irreparably damaged in a storm in April 2012, but was found to be at the end of its practical life and therefore not covered under the insurance. The insurance company, AXA, did offer to pay 50 per cent of the repair at one point and then decided that nothing was owed.
As a result, all the residents paid up £140,000 on January 25. The issue is being addressed by Carlex, Mr Moskovitz and AXA, with a meeting scheduled in August.
Regarding the Upper Chamber ruling, the RTMF said: “It is hoped that the judgment will restore common sense to the process and deter litigious landlords from seeking to obstruct and delay RTM due to loopholes and ambiguities in the law.”
“Far too many RTM cases are being opposed on increasingly tenuous and sometimes obscure points. This is seen to be a deliberate ploy by some landlords to frustrate what should be a statutory right and no fault process. It is a credit to the leaseholders of Regent Court, many of whom are elderly, that they remained co-ordinated and determined throughout the lengthy process to acquire RTM.”
It now remains for Regent Court RTM Limited to appoint a new managing agent of its own choosing.
The RTMF was set up in 2006 to offer a right to manage service to retirement blocks, and has since included the non-retirement sector.
To date, the RTMF has successfully completed RTM for more than 4,000 properties, including 1,800 properties in retirement developments.
For more information on the Right to Manage Federation visit www.rtmf.org.uk
The full Upper Tribunal ruling can be read here