Peverel commented on issue:
“The LVT decision you refer to was specific to one development.
“We would prefer to resolve issues when they arise, long before an LVT is considered. We are therefore reviewing the use of Ombudsman and mediation services across the Peverel Group and will announce any changes when a full review has been carried out. We will continue to subscribe to this valuable service for residents in the meantime.”
But what faith can anyone have in Peverel’s ombudsman and mediation services when it has no intention of even considering applying an LVT decision (!) across the group? Ombudsman and mediation would be of even less value as the findings would be secret and affect only an individual or a single development.
Last March a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal ruled that Peverel should not dump its membership fees of the Housing Ombudsman Service into the service charges. But Peverel is not paying the slightest attention.
The ruling followed an application by Alan Wilkes of The Mansions in Broadstairs, Kent, who disputed whether the £40 charge should be paid for by leaseholders. The full ruling can be read here: www.lease-advice.org/decisions/8587pdf/7001-8000/7825.pdf
Given that Peverel’s membership of the Housing Ombudsman is proudly used in its marketing material, Wilkes presumably felt that it should be paid for out of Peverel’s income as a business cost.
The LVT agreed. It ruled that the Housing Ombudsman costs should only be included if the lease specifically allows for it.
Peverel argued that the cost was permissible because of a clause in the lease that allowed
any additional expenditure in respect of any additional service or item provided by the Manager during the Term which in the Manager’s’ absolute discretion shall enhance the enjoyment security or safety of the Lessees of the Dwellings
But the Tribunal ruled membership of the Housing Ombudsman Service was not a service provided by the manager. It added:
“the facility of paying the subscription through the service charge is not a “service or item provided by the Manager” which “shall enhance the enjoyment security or safety of the Lessees of the Dwellings”, in that the subscription provides access to an additional body to whom lessees can complain, and does not enhance their enjoyment security or safety.”
Although Peverel lost the action, and could not claim its legal costs, Carlex reader Alan Eadie was astonished to receive an email today from Keith Edgar in response to an “Ask Janet a question” email he had send chief executive Janet Entwistle.
Edgar stated: “I confirm that the company has no intention of withdrawing from the valuable service to residents and deleting the nominal cost from the service charge accounts.”
Given that Peverel seems to be determined to defy a legally constituted tribunal, perhaps the best course would be to complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service that its subscriptions are wrongly coming out of the service charges!
Edgar announced his resignation last July, but is still styled “Managing director Peverel Retirement”.
It was wittily suggested that he pay a 10 per cent “exit fee” back to retirement leaseholders on leaving. But this appears to be a protracted process.
Peverel has been contacted for a statement.