As well as exit fees, monopolising estate agency with exorbitant charges, sellers of retirement property also have to pay for ‘information packs’ to the property manager and the freeholder.
Here, Alan Eadie, a long-standing supporter of Carlex who is a leaseholder at Homepine House in Folkestone, tells the Law Commission to include these information packs in its investigation into event fees given that they are compulsory.
I have recently started to prepare my submission in response to your consultation (to be submitted in a week or two) and in doing so it has become clear to me that however effective you are in getting Age UK to distribute hard copies of your papers, the response you are likely to get is going to be negligible. Leaseholders in retirement developments will find it just too much of a hassle. You mentioned the other week about producing a leaflet on one folded sheet of A4, which could be posted back with responses on it to three key questions. I now firmly believe this is your best method of getting any realistic feedback on your consultation.
The vast majority of leaseholders in retirement developments are not connected to the internet and consequently are unaware of how they are being treated by unscrupulous landlords and managing agents. At this late stage in their life they are not looking for any hassle but really prefer a quiet life in this twilight stage of their life. The Managing Agent Peverel/FirstPort are well aware of this fact and they are undoubtedly skilled masters of the art of ‘mushrooms management’ in that they keep their leaseholders in the dark and feed them bullshit (despite all their talk about so called ‘transparency’). Sebastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd of Carlex are however both extremely well aware of the leasehold situation generally and are well qualified to express the views of leaseholders in general and retirement leaseholders in particular.
I came across the attached on the ‘About Peverel; website recently (http://www.spanglefish.com/aboutpeverel/news.asp) and believe it accurately describes my situation. You may well find it interesting background so as to better understand the situation many retired leaseholders find themselves in.
Consequently I decided some time ago that my best course of action was to sell my leasehold flat. After some two years on the market I have at last received an offer (below my purchase price). I am now keeping my fingers tightly crossed that it progresses through to the contract stage, so much so I have cramp! Naturally I intend to use the Small Claims Court to endeavour to recover the Event Fee (Exit Fee) that I have to pay to my landlord based on a breach of the UTCCRs (neither my solicitor or the estate agent drew my attention to the Event Fees when I purchased my flat in 2008 and even belatedly the small print mentioning the Event Fees (Exit Fees) in the actual lease contains some 26 pages).
Another aspect I believe the Law Commission should consider investigating are the exorbitant fees charged to obtain the First Port Management (Managing Agents) information pack – fee £318 and the Landlords information pack – fee £135, necessary to enable the transfer of the property to proceed. Both these information packs simply contain information already known to the leaseholder (assuming they keep reasonable records) but they must be purchased to enable the property to be transferred. If not purchased the property will not be transferred. I am not sure if these fall within your definition of Event Fees? They only become apparent when the leasehold is sold.
I also attach for your background information only, an email I sent to Barry Everett, the National Technical Manager of Peverel, some time ago, [REDACTED …]. Needless to say I received no reply. This email also clearly illustrates the fierce determination of Peverel to pursue profit at the expense of their elderly leaseholders. I appreciate your natural response would be to say why did you not pursue this at a Tribunal? I did not do this, simply because the Tribunals appear to be somewhat biased against the leaseholder and I was just not prepared to risk having to pay the landlords very high legal costs, which are frequently awarded even when the leaseholder wins the case! (I might add that I have experience of sitting on Employment Tribunals as a side member, which most leaseholders in retirement developments do not have.)
Regards and best wishes for 2016.