2016 a leasehold review – The worst year for leaseholders ever?

By   https://barcode1966.wordpress.com/

2016 a leasehold review – The worst year for leaseholders ever?

This is a review of some of this year’s developments and how it effects leaseholders, unfortunately it’s not happy reading. It is no exaggeration to say that 2016 has been the worse year to be a leaseholder in recent memory, there is very little to be optimistic about.

Each development has made it more difficult to exert the legal rights given to leaseholders by legislation as well as making the costs of doing so rise significantly.

Court fees

This ridiculous idea was first mooted in 2015 to bring in application fees for the First tier Tribunal to be paid by the applicant and it eventually come into force in 2016.

Now, when you apply to the Tribunal, you must pay £100 and a further £200 to attend a hearing. As the vast majority of applications have to be made by leaseholders against unreasonable freeholders this extra financial burden will be borne mostly by leaseholders.

It could have been much worse though.

The second part of the governments fee plan to pay for the court system was to also include a flat fee of £2,000 per application to be paid by the applicant.

Luckily we were given the chance, through ALEP, to be able to talk to members of the DCLG before they made this final.

I was able to explain in detail how disastrous this would be to leaseholders and how much power it would put in the hands of freeholders enabling them to act even more unreasonably in negotiations.

Thankfully, the DCLG agreed to drop this second part to their proposal of increased fees.

The ‘Mundy’ decision

The much anticipated decision in the Mundy case was handed down in May this year and it has caused a seismic shift in the landscape of lease extensions.

The case, which is eye wateringly complicated, was trying to decide a method of calculating how the short lease of a property, of anything below 80 years, effects the value of it.

The behemoth that is the Wellcome Trust spent a fortune in discrediting Parthenia’s valuation model that looked to make the calculating of this loss of property value scientific and less partisan (and ergo fairer to leaseholders). ‘Accepted’ relativity graphs have always been paid for and pushed through the courts by wealthy freeholders to benefit their interests and this case was no different.

Click here to read more details of the case but it should come as no surprise that the uber rich Wellcome trust won the case adding millions to the value of their portfolio.

This has meant that the cost of extending a lease that has fallen below 80 years has risen dramatically. For example, a flat worth £400,000 with 70 years left to run on the lease will now pay around £8,000 more for a lease extension after this decision.

Good news for the already bloated freeholders but it is a wholly unfair result for leaseholders who find themselves caught in the leasehold trap.

At a valuers seminar I attended a couple of months ago, the normally dour grey-suited freeholder’s valuers were positively clicking their heels and dancing with glee at the thought of all these additional unearned fees.

When someone in the audience pointed out to the valuers on stage how unfair this Mundy decision was to leaseholders, an infamous valuer working for a large and difficult freeholder smirked and said “Life isn’t fair.”

As well as making freeholders even richer this case has caused a hardening of the freeholder’s stance across the board. This means leaseholders will have to attend the Tribunal more often to argue the unfair price demanded and pay both the application fee for doing so as well as huge fees of the professionals ‘defending’ them.

CONSOLS replace with the NLF rate
fullsizeoutput_4cdIn another complex development the government cancelled CONSOLS. This was an index used to value, amongst other things, the premium due to a head lessor for the loss of any ground rent due to them during a lease extension.

They replaced this with the wholly unsuitable National Loan Fund (NLF) which is a daily spot rate calculated on the day the Notice is Served. At its introduction the NLF rate was already considerably lower than the CONSOL rate and it continues to fall in line with the current, unprecedented, deflated interest rates.

This has real financial implications for leaseholders who have a head lessor on their property which has an element of the ground rent due to them. In a case we dealt with earlier this year the amount due to the head lessor under the old CONSOLS rate would have been £4,000 this was calculated to be £12,000 at the time of Notice Serving in September 2015. If we had Served Notice today, the amount due would be closer to £20,000!

Rule 13 wasted costs

A recent decision in the ‘Willow Court v Ms Alexandra’ case tried to make clear the qualifying criteria affecting anyone who wished to apply to have their legal fees paid for by the party who had brought an unnecessary and vexatious case against them at Tribunal.

Although the decision made it clear that this is not something this could be applied for automatically if decision went in your favour, it was only to be used only in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

The decision also stated that these application for costs should not “become a major case in its own right”

The truth is however that early evidence points to freeholders applying for these wasted costs every time they win a case to try to claim back their legal fees but more importantly to ‘teach’ leaseholders a lesson for daring to challenge freeholders in court and deter other leaseholders for going down that same route.

Right to manage by block

There was another inexplicable decision which earlier this year “Triplerose Ltd v Ninety Broomfield Road’ which seemed to go against the very spirit of the Right to Manage legislation.

This new ruling means that a right to manage application must now be done on a block by block basis. If you live on a development which contains four small blocks of flats all owned by the same freeholder, you must now make four separate applications for the right to manage. That’s four separate companies, four sets of directors and, obviously, four sets of fees and costs.

Freeholders already have a considerable collection of ruses to frustrate leaseholders who wish to take control the management of their own buildings, this decision has just added another powerful weapon to freeholders unwilling to let go of the cash cow that is management.

Ground rent scandals

This has been going on for a couple of decadesfullsizeoutput_4cb but it has certainly become big news this year with three different ground rent scandals hitting the headlines.

The first was over dodgy informal lease extension deals offered at Blythe Court in Birmingham. The freeholder there is Martin Paine, of whom Sir Peter Bottomley said ‘is a crook who is turning sleaze in leases into an art form’ at the recent debate on leasehold in Westminster.

Mr Paine sold informal lease extension of 99 years with ground rent doubling every 10 years. On completion, the leaseholders found the 99 years started from when the lease was originally granted, so the length of the lease remained the same but the new ground rent due was £8,000 a year making the flats worthless. Read the full story here.

Taylor Wimpey found themselves with a mountain of negative PR when it was brought to light that they had been selling houses as leasehold, instead of freehold, for the sole purpose of making themselves more profit while plunging their unsuspecting clients into a life time of unnecessary ground rent debt.

The telegraph also ran a story which we have been involved with which was a leasehold flat in Islington where grounds rents starting at £250 per year per flat would grow over the term of the 999-year lease to… £68,719,476,736,000 a year! A bargain.

So what does 2017 have in store for leaseholders?

I hate to be the bearer of more bad news but it looks like the freeholders are going to try to push their advantages even further next year using lower interest rates as a smoke screen to mask their naked greed.

In late 2016 we are already seeing the ‘professionals’ advising the large freeholders to try and argue lower capitalisation rates, which are used to calculate the ground rent due to a freeholder to compensate for the loss of ground rent, than those currently accepted.

An even bigger battle is brewing over the deferment rate which was set by ‘Sportelli’ in 2007. The deferment rate is used to calculate the amount due to a freeholder to compensate them for the reversion of a property. The lower the rate, which is currently 5%, the more you will have to pay the freeholder, a 1% reduction in this rate would have huge financial consequences for leaseholders across the country.

Potentially these will be one of the battle grounds of 2017 as bloated greedy freeholders look to get paid even more for a lease extension from their legally captivated victims the leaseholders.

Is there any good news at all?

unfairFor the first time in over a decade those fine people at the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership were the driving force to secure a debate on leasehold in Parliament a couple of weeks, ago which was a fiery damnation on the state of leasehold in this country.

To finally have political appetite looking at the injustices of this feudal system is a very good thing and may be the tool to fight the coming battles from greedy billionaire freeholders wishing to push their advantages.

With the political appetite comes serious interest from the press looking to expose even more of the dodgy dealings of these wealthy freeholders who live in the shadows while carrying out legal extortion on many millions of leaseholders. I have spent more time talking to the press about various leasehold scams in these last two months than I did for the previous eight years combined. There are some big exposés coming in 2017!

Finally, leaseholders themselves are becoming better informed and educated about leasehold abuses. If you find yourself in an unfair situation with your freeholder, make some noise about it! Contact your local MP and let them know, write to the papers, contact LKP and join the growing army of people demanding that this thousand-year-old feudal system should be ended once and for all.

More at    https://barcode1966.wordpress.com/

Housing cash raided as we struggle to get basic repairs done

Islington Tribune Leaseholder’s Letters.  

Housing cash raided as we struggle to get basic repairs done

Published:15 July, 2016

• IF you are an ordinary, working-class council tenant who ever thought Islington’s Labour council was on your side, think again.

Our rents and service charges are supposed to be ringfenced for managing, maintaining and repairing our homes. They are paid into the council’s housing revenue account (HRA), as distinct from the general fund, which all households pay into (including council tenants) through council tax.

The council, though, has just been exposed (in Inside Housing magazine) for using a loophole to raid the HRA to pay for “democratic and corporate core services”.  

While other councils have likewise been caught out, Islington has taken much more from the HRA than others. In 2014-15, 44 per cent of the cost of its “democratic and corporate core services” was taken from its HRA, while the London average (still inexcusable) was 6.9 per cent.  

This has been going on for years, with the percentage hiked up six per cent from 2011-12 to 2014-15.  Presumably, at the very least, the outgoing Islington housing lead member, now Deputy London Mayor, James Murray would have to have been aware that our rents are being used to subsidise other households, including some of the country’s wealthiest middle class. 

All tenants’ and residents’ associations should demand that the HRA raids stop and that any money taken for “democratic and core services” be paid back, especially as many of us struggle to get basic repairs done on our estates and are told that the budgets which council TRAs might bid for (for estate improvements) could be cut.  

PHIL COSGROVE 
Finsbury estate, EC1

Islington Leaseholders ILA AGM Wed 13.07.16 – 7pm

Islington Leaseholders Association (ILA) Annual General Meeting, will take place in the  Council Chamber, Islington Town Hall on:
Date: Wednesday,    13th July 2016
Time: 7 – 7.30 pm.    AGM
Islington Leaseholders Monthly Wednesday Meeting will take place after the AGM Meeting
Time: 7.30 – 9.00 pm.   Islington Leaseholders Meeting,
Chaired by Dr Brian Potter Chairman (ILA)
Dr B.S. Potter Chairman (ILA)

EU vote – Original In/Out promotional material

Here are some of the original In/Out EU vote promotional materials, from Dr Potter of the ILA, to help inform Leaseholders regarding the history of the process that we are about to vote on.

Gov say to vote yes  Vote Yes  Vote No

 

ILA AGM Wed 8th July 2015

ILA -Husting

Dear Fellow Islington Leaseholders,

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Islington Leaseholders Association (ILA), will take place on Wednesday 8th July 2015, at Islington Town Hall Chambers.

Islington Leaseholders Association Meeting

On

Wednesday 8th July 2015

In

Islington Town Hall

At

7pm – 9pm

Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman (ILA)

Guest Speaker: Ms Patricia Napier who has successfully represented many Islington leaseholders challenging Islington Council at Tribunal.

Website www.ila.org.uk

Twitter @ilaorguk

Face Book www.facebook.com/IslingtonLeaseholdersAssociation

Volunteers wanted

The ILA are looking for a ‘secretary’ to take minutes and distribute them regularly to all the directors and asks for a volunteer to undertake this essential part of the work, to assist with the smooth running of the organisation.  If you are interested please log into http://www.ila.org.uk/faqs/contact-form.

If you wish to join or renew your membership please contact our website ww.ila.org.uk where you can obtain the appropriate membership forms.

 

Look forward to seeing you there.

Please feel free to email your friends , retweet or like this on Facebook

 

 

ILA AGM & meet – Wed 11th June 2014

Islington Leaseholders Association Meeting
and
Annual General Meeting

on

Wednesday 11th June 2014

in

Islington Town Hall

at

7pm – 9pm

Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman (ILA)

Guest Speakers: Mrs Patricia Napier

Website www.ila.org.uk
Twitter: @ilaorguk
Face Book www.facebook.com/IslingtonLeaseholdersAssociation

Please tell /retweet/re-mail/ like / anyone who might be interested about this meeting

Hustings and ILA meet Wed 14 May 2014

 Islington Leaseholders Association Meeting and Hustings
on
Wednesday 14th May  2014
in
Islington Town Hall
at
7pm – 9pm

The apolitical ILA have invited all Islington political parties to attend a Hustings at our ILA monthly meet, to tell us how they will help Leaseholders.

Leaseholders are invited to come along and ask them how they’ll help you.

 

Guest Speakers from Islington’s political parties confirmed so far include:

 

Cllr. James Murray – Executive Member for Housing (Labour),

Cllr. Terry Stacy (Liberal) ,

Charlie Kiss (Green),

Patricia Napier (Conservative),

Pete Muswell  (UKIP)

Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman ILA
Twitter @ilaorguk

    If you wish to join or renew your membership please contact our website www.ila.org.uk where you can obtain the appropriate membership forms.

      Feel free to share, tweet, like, tell your friends about this meeting

ILA meet wed 12.2.14

Islington Leaseholders Association Meeting
on

Wednesday 12th Febuary 2014
in

Islington Town Hall

at
7pm – 9pm

Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman ILA
Guest Speakers: To be advised
Website www.ila.org.uk
Twitter @ilaorguk
Face Book http://on.fb.me/mWzios

If you wish to join or renew your membership please contact our website www.ila.org.uk where you can obtain the appropriate membership forms.

ILA AGM & Meeting Wed 13 June 2012

ILA

Islington Leaseholders Association

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

(meeting in public)

Wednesday 13th June 2012, 7pm

Main Council Chamber, Islington Town Hall,

Upper Street N1

Agenda

=======================================

1/

Introduction and Annual General Meeting 2011-2012:
7pm-7.30pm
a) Chairs Report

b) Treasurers Report 2011-2012

c) Resolution regarding Audit of Accounts

d) Election of Directors/co-opted directors

==========================================

2/

Chair opens monthly meeting 7.30pm

==========================================

3/
Guest speaker: Ms Patricia Napier (Barrister) who has been advising leaseholders and acting for them on a Pro Bono basis. 7.35pm-8pm
==========================================

4/

Questions and answers from leaseholders 8pm-8.30pm

=========================================

5/

Any other business 8.30pm-9pm
=========================================
NP:- Please let other leaseholders know about this meeting especially those who do not have email or tweet / RT this event.thank you.
=========================================

Hosting the meeting:- Dr B.S. Potter Chairman ILA

Follow us on Twitter @ilaorguk
Like us on Face Book http://on.fb.me/mWzios

LEASEHOLDERS MEETING

LEASEHOLDERS MEETING

Date: Wednesday 10th August 2011

Venue: Town Hall Chambers

Time :7 – 9 pm

Guest speakers: All of the prospective candidates standing for election to the St Peters Ward by-election.

Please view our website www.ila.org.uk , if you wish to become a member or renew your existing membership you can download a membership form from this website.
Follow us on twitter @ilaorguk

Please inform any leaseholders on your Estate, or in Street Properties about these meetings, and suggest they attend.

URGENT PLEASE… if you have not already signed up…please do so by clicking on to…www.DisbandHFI.org.uk

Dr B.S. Potter Chairman ILA

Unable to obtain last week’s Islington Tribune? Please, see articles and letters here.