March 25, 2017

From Tokyo, a victory against E&M and Peverel at Maltings Court

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A leaseholder of a property at Maltings Court, Stratford-upon-Avon, has settled an action over wrongly demanded ground rent and his court costs … corresponding with E&M and Peverel / FirstPort from Tokyo.

In spring 2011, Geoffrey Powell, and a number of other leaseholders at the 21-flat Maltings Court, received ground rent demands dating back to 2005 from Estates & Management, that is, Tchenguiz.

Mr Powell paid the £100 demanded even though he had already paid his ground rent after receiving a debt collecting notice from Centurion Collections threatening county court proceedings.

Perhaps infuriated by this high-handedness, Mr Powell decided to pursue the matter from the other side of the world launching a small claims action.

By November 17 2014, Peverel (it was still then called) was acknowledging that the ground rent had been demanded twice from Mr Powell “in error”. But it also rejected Mr Powell’s claim that either it or Estates & Management had “intentionally defrauded you”.

The next day Estates & Management was also writing to Mr Powell, labelling its correspondence “without prejudice save as to costs”.

“We apologise for any misunderstanding or confusion which has been caused in relation to your account. We note you have made a number of enquiries since 2011 about this and our administrators have dealt with each enquiry in a professional and courteous manner.

“We strongly deny any fraud or collusion has taken place and there has been no benefit to any of the defendants in the course of the action described above, we do not consider any element of your claim will succeed at court and would suggest that you discontinue your claim to avoid further unnecessary legal costs.”

The following week Mr Powell suggested that he would drop his legal action in exchange for the residents, who now have a right to manage company, being given the opportunity to buy the freehold for the same price paid by Tchenguiz from Bovis homes.

Initially, Estates & Management automatons replied that they hoped to resolve the issue “amicably”, but by December 1 they replied to Mr Powell’s astonishing proposal regarding the freehold:

“Unfortunately, this avenue is not going to result in an agreement in relation to your claim. We note your strategy to use the litigation as a negotiation tool to achieve another objective and would suggest that you consult a solicitor in relation to the merits of your alleged claim and the likely costs at this stage before matters escalate further.”

It offered to pay back £100, split with Peverel, and disputed Mr Powell’s demanded £205 court costs proposing £35 instead.

Mr Powell rejected this, and just before Christmas 2014 got his £305 pounds, split between E&M and Peverel.

In spite of this Mr Powell regrets not having returned to the UK and fought the matter out in court – not least because other leaseholders received similar demands.

He says:

“Well, I faced a bit of a dilemma, to pursue the case into court would involve the cost of flying back to England, hiring cars, staying in hotels, all of which would come to thousands of pounds with very little hope of recovering any of it from the defendants.

“It just didn’t make practical sense to continue so I decided to accept the offer. However, it might have been a whole lot different ball game had I been living in the UK”.

Comments

  1. Centurion Collections is a name used by Estates and Management designed to make people believe they are being chased by a debt collector. Estates and Managements details normally appear at the bottom of the letters sent out be Centurion.

    Most people don’t keep detailed records of when they pay ground rents for particular years, so when demands arrive some years after the event a not unreasonable number of people will pay again.

    Quite what excuse Estates and Management and Peverel have for these “administrative” mistakes has never been explained.

    • I thought that after 18 months they could not be made to pay.

      Please Martin Explain?

      • Michael Epstein says:

        Chas,
        There is a difference between Ground Rent and Service Charges. Ground Rent has no legal time limit on backdating. One leaseholder had his ground rent backdated 20 years. Only if it can be proved that paying the backdated Ground Rent would be a financial strain could the demand be cancelled.
        Whilst in most cases, there is a 18 month limit for Service Charge demands, there is a clause which allows for an extended period as to when an invoice for services has been raised.

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    My lease stated that a RICS surveyor should be appointed to revalue my ground rent at 21 years.
    i duly received a letter,from E&M apologising for a delay, but that the ground rent survey had been carried late, but had been backdated.
    The problem was that 1) they could not tell me who carried out the valuation and 2) they backdated to the wrong year.
    I also received the Centurion threats. E&M eventually backed down over the date and had several attempts at the valuation. This matter did go to court. I “caved in” much to the shock of the barrister.
    It appeared that my legal argument would have had to go to a higher court, so i cut my losses (just under 4 thousand if i remember)
    I pledged that very day, that for every pound i had lost i would cost Peverel/E&M a hundred pounds.
    Even though I have succeeded in that (they still have not got a clue as to how many developments i have visited and stirred up trouble for them) Why stop a good thing?

  3. Michael,

    You naughty boy, fancy not going the full Monty?

    I can not condemn you as others have done the same, and you are honest enough to admit.

    Can I join you in your visits next year.

    Why stop a good thing?

  4. Michael Epstein says:

    Chas,
    Before going in to court, I was advised to “sniff the wind” to see which way the case was going?
    It was readily becoming clear, I had a choice of settling, or the case would have been transferred to a higher court. Even if i had won, E&M would have appealed, so they would have added to my costs, which as we know is a tactic they are known for. Oddly, when i said to the Judge “I accept” the E&M barrister replied that he would have to consult with his clients to see if he could accept?
    It cost me dear(no holidays for a few years),but had I continued I could have lost everything.
    Having used their big guns against me (without being able to silence me) has cost both E&M and Peverel a fortune. I assure them that I will never stop in my quest for justice. Even in times of failure, myself and others have used any failure to teach others to counteract E&M and Peverel tactics, so any loss can be someone else’s victory.