NLC launched a new leaflet to raise awarness. The support from around the England & Wales has been phenomenal. We have posted over 30k leaflets to campaigners who are eager and keen to mobilise and raise awareness.

Leaflets have been spotted all around the UK.

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  1. Courtesy of Michael Epstein, National Leasehold Campaign.

    A brief if not exact summary of how leasehold houses came about?
    Except in very special circumstances, flats were always sold as leasehold, houses were always sold as freehold.
    A highly controversial businessman by the name of Vincent Tchenguiz realised that he could purchase freeholds with borrowed money and if he ruthlessly monetised the ownership of the freeholds he could exploit leaseholders by making such excessive charges that it would be the leaseholders themselves that would pay for his loans taken out to purchase the leaseholders freeholds.
    Legally of course, the freeholder (ie the Tchenguiz companies were not allowed to make a profit from providing services.
    So what he did was to buy a non descript property management company in Bournemouth and expand it rapidly by acquisition.
    He used this company to garner profits that were then directed back to his freeholding companies.
    The company I refer to is of course the notorious Peverel (now known as Firstport)
    In addition to very poor service, sky high service charges and lack of accountability, this company created a pseudo insurance division which added up to 40% commissions for “arranging” insurance. They also took part in a systemic fraud on elderly residents by price fixing work that in all probability never needed doing. The amount was believed to be as much as 1.4 m pounds.
    So developers saw what was going on and how easy it was to turn a profit, but they were selling houses on freehold. What to do?
    And then it dawned on them. Sell the houses on a freehold basis, but on new developments there are paths, lawns, shrubbery and trees, which the council were not interested in those parts could be leasehold!
    Whilst leaseholders in flats had some protections (however minimal and unsatisfactory) house owners surrounded by leasehold land had virtually no protection whatsoever.
    The could appoint (or sell the freehold of the surrounding land) to a “friendly’ managing agent who could make a great deal of money and provide next to no service at all. the developer could make a few bob and if all went pear shaped they could claim “Not Us Guv, its the managing agents”
    For a while, developers were satisfied with this windfall, but of course that was not enough. They got greedy!
    And lo and behold. the leasehold house came about.
    So what of Tchenguiz and Peverel (Firstport)
    Well Peverel collapsed into administration after wide spread publicity exposed their shocking business methods.
    They were rescued a year later in a controversial move that separated them away from the Tchenguiz companies.
    Denied the income from Peverel that Tchenguiz needed to service his loans, his company defaulted on them, which is why his property portfolio is being sold off.
    Currently Peverel/Firstport have a net worth of – 7m pounds and are trading due to guarantees given by their backers to whom they are paying interest rates of up to 15% for their loans.
    They have lost many high profile developments and two years ago had to make a provision of nearly 9m pounds to resolve”Historical issues that have given rise to disputes”
    To give some context to this, the trouble Bovis group who are seeking a buyer to save them and have just been voted the UK’s worst developer have made a provision of 7m pounds for disputes (which is 2m pounds less then Peverel/Firstport had to!
    Further context may be taken from the collapse of BHS, when it was said that “Emergency funding at 11% interest was unsustainable” and yet Peverel/Firstport are paying 4% more!
    What strikes me is the similarities between Tchenguiz/Peverel and Taylor Wimpey/Linden/ Persimmon etc developers stories.
    A small campaign grew and grew and overwhelmed Tchenguiz and Peverel. This campaign will eventually overwhelm the developers as well.

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