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/

ILA meet Wed 11.01.17 – Guest TBC

Islington Leaseholders Association Meeting

On

Wednesday 11h January 2017

In

Islington Town Hall

At

7pm – 9pm

Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman (ILA)

Guest Speaker: To be advised

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 “Support” section of our website ww.ila.org.uk where you can obtain the appropriate membership forms.

ILA Crowdfunding bid to challenge hidden housing repair costs

Reposted from Islington Tribune

LETTERS: Crowdfunding bid to challenge hidden housing repair costs

Published: 27 November, 2015

• IT’S great to see the Tribune has started to report on Islington’s housing problems once again.

What was not reported in this article was that during the scrutiny committee meeting I asked Partners representatives how many surveyors it employed to service the properties it manages on behalf of the council; its answer was approximately 12. Since Islington Council employs another 60 surveyors to service the rest of its housing stock the total number of surveyors paid for by residents is more than 70, and according to the council, the majority of its surveyors are not even Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors qualified.

 Since leaseholders’ bills for cyclic work show that all contracts are inclusive of 11 per cent for “professional fees” to the council, surely we are entitled to expect that the council employs only fullyRICS-qualified staff?

If the council is using potentially unqualified staff (not chartered surveyors) to assess the condition of our homes, how do we know that the costs and quality of the work, for which we are grossly overcharged, actually represents true “value for money”?

The answer is simple. We need to be able to freely inspect the schedule of rates appertaining to the contracts which have been agreed between the council and its contractors. Since we pay the bill we should be able to see just what the council signs us up to.

Curiously, the council not only refuses to allow us to view this document, but has recently attended a court hearing in order to make certain it can reserve the right to restrict legislative compliance to a degree which suits its purpose – basically, to stop residents seeing the cost of their repairs.

In order to challenge this position those concerned need to be able to pursue their case without fear of financial pressures.

Therefore, we are currently examining the possibility of following a course of crowdfunding to finance a challenge. If you are prepared to assist financially please email us on Islington.Leaseholders@hotmail.co.uk.

Remember, if the council does not have to show how your money is spent, it’s you who will have to pay the hidden costs.

DR BS POTTER
Chairman, Islington Leaseholders Association

BBC program wants Council & Partners Leaseholders experiences of works, charges for repairs etc

BBC are doing a programme looking at the experience of leaseholders when it comes to charges for repairing and maintaining communal buildings. They are keen to talk to people who can give them an insight into how this system works – are repairs/maintenance done promptly… is the quality of the work adequate… are the charges that are levied on leaseholders fair etc.? They may want you take part in program.

They are are also keen to talk to PFI leaseholders.

Please mail ILA 2-3 paragraphs with your experiences by Fri 8th May and well pas them on, thanks

“WESTLAW” free of charge in all of Islington’s Libraries.

Dr Brian Potter Chairman (ILA) has asked me to forward this onto you all.
I have just discovered that you can access “WESTLAW” free of charge in all of Islington’s Libraries.If you need to research any form of law documentation…all that you need is a library card…!!!

Dr B.S. Potter Chairman (ILA)

 

ILA Meet 9th April 2014

Islington Leaseholders Association Meeting
on
Wednesday 9th April 2014
in
Islington Town Hall
at
7pm – 9pm
Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman ILA
Guest Speaker: TBA
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.

First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Presentation – ILA meeting

First-tier Tribunal(Property Chamber) presentation on the  replacement to the Lands Valuation Tribunal (  LVT ) from ILA meeting on Wednesday 12th June 2013 by Nicholas Kissen from LEASE. ( requires Powerpoint to view).

Download

ILA monthly meet Wed 12th Decemeber 2012

Islington Leaseholders Association

Meeting  on

Wednesday 12th Decemeber  2012

in

Islington Town Hall

at

7pm – 9pm

Hosting the meeting: Dr Brian Potter Chairman ILA

Guest Speakers: Presentation by ‘LEASE’ on HOW to  CHALLENGE YOUR BILLS at the LVT.

Website www.ila.org.uk
Twitter @ilaorguk
Face Book http://on.fb.me/mWzios

Meetings: Second Wednesday of each month

ILA – volunteers wanted
The ILA is 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 the smooth running of the organisation.  If your interested please contact us here.

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

Please impress upon any other leaseholders that it is in their interest to attend these meetings regularly…….

TREMLETT GROVE LVT Findings summary

 This is a precis of the ruling earlier this year by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal regarding work that took pace on the Tremlett Grove Estate. The case featured on the Dispatches programme broadcast on Monday 20th August 2012.
It is written by a layperson, not a lawyer, and should not be relied upon for legal use or to encourage you to take legal action. It is written for your information.
If you wish to dispute your bill in any courts or at the LVT, the ILA  strongly suggest you should always seek legal advice from lawyers experienced in UK leasehold contracts.  You can find the original decision at the Lands Tribunal website.
The actual costs involved are detailed in Appendix 1 on page 27 of the actual LVT ruling

Court Refuse Islington Council Appeal; Watch Dispatches, Channel 4 TV

From The Islington Gazette 16.08.2012

Days before a TV expose about leaseholder overcharging featuring Islington Council, a group of  Islington Residents hope that their battle is at an end after the council was refused permission to appeal a ruling that it blew £1 million on housing improvements.

Mondays edition of investigative channel 4 show Dispatches features the Tremlett Grove Estate in Archway which was the subject   of  a leaseholder valuation tribunal ( LVT) in April. It found that the council paid over the odds for work on two blocks.

The ruling meant the council will have to refund around £16000 to each of the 14 leaseholders affected.   more council lose appeal again

 

Dispatches TV pgm c4 -Monday 20 August 8pm – The truth about leaseholds

(set your video recorders)