A retirement development in Plymouth launches its third attempt to obtain right to manage on December 11 to escape from London landlord/ managing agent Joseph Gurvits.
Gurvits and his associate Israel Moskovitz, who operate out of the same address in north London, picked up the freehold of Elim Court nearly two years ago and added it to the portfolio within Avon Freeholds (of which Moskovitz is a director). After careful reflection, it was decided to appoint Gurvits as the managing agent in the form of Y and Y Management, even though he is based 240 miles from Plymouth. Gurvits is better known to many London leaseholders as the owner of Eagerstates.
Since the arrival of Gurvits/ Moskovitz, Elim Court has been beset with controversy and 29 residents, mainly in their eighties, are demanding the right to manage. They have been doing so since June 2011.
A recent source of acrimony has been a £20,000 electronic door entry system that Y and Y declared was necessary. Two weeks ago the proposal was halted and property manager Elena Andreadis came down from London to launch a charm offensive at a meeting to persuade the residents to drop their right to manage action.
“Amusingly, nobody turned up,” says Keith Phillips, OBE, a former Whitehall fire and anti-terrorism expert, who is a director of the RTM company.
The residents have involved the local Tory MP Oliver Colvile, and last week Phillips, whose mother-in-law is an Elim Court resident, urged Colvile to press for urgent government action over leasehold abuses.
“Since you and I first communicated on this, during which Elim Court’s landlord and managing agent have continued to behave obstructively towards its elderly leaseholder residents, a number of have sadly passed away. I therefore very much regret having let a gentleman down who, at one of our earlier general meetings, approached me saying, “thank you for what you are doing for us, I can only hope we get our right to manage and rid ourselves of these awful people before I die”.
“I hope you will therefore understand why we feel the lack of tangible action by government and politicians on this issue is shameful.”
Colvile was not among the MPs who attended the Carlex / LKP meeting in Westminster on October 30, hosted by Sir Peter Bottomley.
The Elim Court RTM action is being taken by Dudley Joiner of the commercial company the Right to Manage Federation, and solicitor Margarita Mossop. It is understood Avon Freehold will deploy a solicitor and a barrister.
It will be third time lucky if Elim Court wins its RTM application. Its first action, begun in June 2011, failed because the Plymouth LVT (chaired by Mr LA Loveday) accepted the argument that one resident, who had died but whose name was on the Land Registry, had not received an RTM notification. The notification had not been served out of sensitivity to the man’s widow. Even though RTM was the clear wish of the majority of leaseholders, the LVT threw it out.
A second RTM application fizzled out in June this year as eight residents supposedly changed their minds over wanting it.
Elim Court is likely to be a drawn-out affair even if it ends in victory. At nearby retirement development Regents Court, which won right to manage, Gurvits / Moskovitz are taking the issue to appeal.
With several of the original RTM applicants already dead, there are few clearer examples of how what Parliament intended was the right to manage is being frustrated than the cases of the pensioners at Regent and Elim Court.
Unless there is an overwhelming reason why RTM should be withheld, it should be granted.
Carlex will making this point very forcibly with the Housing Minister next week.