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Small Claims Court
I have tried to find the answer to this, and can't!

If you believe that FirstPort owe your Service Charge some money, through overcharging, charging twice or whatever, and you have been through the complaints procedure and got nowhere, can you take the matter to the small claims court?

If you can, would it be just for your portion of the service charge, or can one person take the case on to attempt to get all the money back?
Posted by on 11 May 2021
It depends on the circumstances? If Firstport have already admitted wrong doing, but have simply not repaid money owing, then the Small Claims Court is the way to go. If however, the claim is about poor service or overcharging the court will direct the action to the FTT.
Posted by Michael Epstein on 11 May 2021
So, assuming all is in place and it would be an acceptable matter for the Court to deal with, can just one leaseholder claim for the whole refund to the service charge and not just their proportion of it?
Posted by on 11 May 2021
As far as I am aware yes if those conditions were actually met then you could take action as an individual.
Posted by Michael Epstein on 11 May 2021
If you provide further information we may be able to help you?

Firstport have a knack for cheating leaseholders and have been doing this under different names for 30 years.

Firstport know possession is 9 tenths of the Law and they have your money.

Ask The Editor for contact
Posted by chas on 11 May 2021
SCAMMERS HMCTS or HMRC
News Story
HMCTS telephone numbers used by Tax Scammers.

Scammers using HMCTS telephone numbers to demand tax payments.

From:HM Courts & Tribunals Service Published:17 March 2021

An increasing number of concerned individuals are contacting offices across HMCTS following emails or phone calls by scammers.

Scammers mimic legitimate phone numbers (spoofing) and may allege that you owe HMRC money and that a warrant for your arrest has been issued.

Scammers may also tell you to look up contact details for HMCTS courts and offices to verify the number they are using to call.

These calls include:

* Previous mistakes in tax returns
* National Insurance numbers being used fraudulently

HMCTS is separate from HMRC and is not involved with tax payments and will not contact you about tax matters.

HMRC does not use any HMCTS phone numbers.
Posted by chas on 10 May 2021
Another scam to beware of is when you receive a service charge demand from Firstport that includes a fee that purports to be for a non existent monitoring service.
Posted by Michael Epstein on 10 May 2021
Firstport are charging more VICTIMS over the Out of Hours receiving information and claiming it is Monitoring.

Retirement Developments are charged Monitoring Fees where Non Retirement Developments have the Out of Hours and Emergency Response which is included in the Management Fees.

One of Firstport Directors decided they can make more money by taking the Out of Hours from within the Management Fee and refusing to reduce the Management fee to compensate the charges.
Posted by chas on 10 May 2021
OPENVIEW Contract Scam
This contract was negotiated by the MD of FPRPS and was generic.
Therefore, many retirement sites are charged maintenance fees for items that don’t exist on their development.
Search OpenView on this site for further information.
Posted by FACT on 11 May 2021
FACT, The OPENVIEW Contract Scam, can you Post what made it a Scam.

This contract was negotiated by the MD of FPRPS is this Firstport Retirement Property Services?

Is this the same Agreement as Appello had in 2019 that they use to throw leaseholders of the scent.

Can you be more specific please how it was generic and please explain how many retirement sites are charged maintenance fees for items that don’t exist on their development.

OpenView purchased part of Appello as far as I remember and Appello was Cirrus Communications who were involved in the Price Fixing Scandal.

You mention OpenView on this site is there anymore you can add?
Posted by chas on 11 May 2021
RTM
Has any Retirement Development carried out the RTM. And are still happy with the change a year or more down the line!!

Thanks to all for the excellent information on this site.
Posted by nowowawards on 07 May 2021
About Firstport have yet to come across any development that has not been happy a year down the line.
That said even if residents were to be unhappy because they have a Right to Manage they simply appoint a new managing agent without rancour and any need to end up in a tribunal to exercise their rights.
One word of warning though against inflated expectations. Firstport have done so much damage to developments have stolen so much funds from residential service charge accounts via unjustified charges that one year is probably not enough time to recover.
Posted by The Editor on 07 May 2021
I speak as an RTM Director of 4 years and unfortunately I can break that record and post that we were not at all happy after our first year of RTM. Not only am I a RTM Director, I am the person who initially suggested RTM to the residents, and obtained 96% support from them. Then it all went wrong!

On 27 July 2020 I wrote on this site about concerns in Leasehold and the lack of regulation of Managing Agents.

RTM is not all its cracked up to be because of these factors. I would compare it to the story of the Wizard of Oz, and following the yellow brick road!

It depends how the Directors want to run the RTM. If they have acquired RTM to reduce their service charge, this will happen. But chances are, you will still get ripped off by your Managing Agent. If you are happy to accept this, then fine. You should still have a reduced service charge. But if, like our RTM, you are committed to trying to cut out malpractices, it will drive you round the bend!

You are also likely to loose other residents as friends because why should a resident (who happens to have put their head above the parapet and volunteered to become a RTM Director) make decisions for another resident?

And to "The Editor". You state that "even if residents were to be unhappy because they have a Right to Manage they simply appoint a new managing agent without rancour". In practice, this is simply not the case! Let me ask you a direct question - What does a RTM company do if, when they terminate the employment of a Managing Agent that they find out is 'fiddling them', the Managing Agent refuses to accept the termination. The MA then sends out 'late payment' fees to all residents, and continues to do that monthly for the next 14 months. These late payment fees are taken from your development bank account because that same MA refuses to hand back any funds or documents relating to the Development.

they also continue to 'help themselves' to your funds for spurious reasons.

I look forward to your reply.

Readers may have gathered that I belong to a RTM Company that, at one time, wishes they had never gone down that route.

The first step, once RTM is acquired, of employing a Managing Agent is very much pot luck. You are giving a stranger access to thousands of pounds of your funds, to do what they want with. This situation will remain until MA's are regulated.

We chose the wrong agent, and it cost us £76,000. We fully believe this could not have been avoided, under the current system.

Three years later, and a lot of hard work, the benefits of both services and finances are there for all to see. We have landed 'lucky' on our selection of MA this time. But its still a constant, lifetime job to keep on top of it all if, as a RTM Director, you wish to stand in front of your members and state, categorically, that all their money is being spent wisely.

If you just wish to look at the bottom line, then go for it and sit back and enjoy. But remember at all times, the MA has control of the service charge, and you have no input into how it it spent unless the MA co-operates with you.


Posted by Christine on 07 May 2021
In the circumstances you describe I would have called in the police as the managing agent has stolen money from development accounts. Clearly everyone needs to do much research before appointing a managing agent. Word of mouth is good from others that use the agent. Look at the managing agent's accounts and pay regard to the directors and their previous associations. No point in getting rid of the crooked Firstport and appointing Freemont who are run by the very people who turned Firstport crooked?
Posted by The Editor on 07 May 2021
Thank you "Ed" for your reply.

The police were not interested. They told us they deal with criminal fraud and not civil fraud, which this would be classed as.

Another problem we had was that we could not tell anyone how much had been stolen! We had no paperwork. We had to go to Court, at our cost, to get the paperwork back. From this we could calculate our loss, but we then had to employ a certified accountant to calculate the true spend in our service charge, as a Court would not take the figure from the RTM. We ended up around £10 difference!

For clarification, our loss was based on charges made outside the agreement and after termination of the contract.

Then we had to employ a solicitor who employed a barrister to obtain Counsels Opinion, which was extremely favourable. After obtaining a quote to go to Court to attempt to get our money back, the members voted against further action, based purely on the high costs required.

We believe we carried out due diligence before employing this Managing Agent. One thing we did not do, and "Ed" has advised, is to talk to others who are managed by you proposed Managing Agent. We assumed (wrongly!) that all was well as they were accredited and recommended by Leasehold Knowledge Partnership. The problem was that they must have lied to LKP to obtain accreditation and simply ran away when LKP approached them on our behalf about our concern.

The Ombudsman would not consider it as they will only look at concerns less than 6 months old, and by the time we had gone through the processes, we were well out of time.

This Managing Agent only had about 40 developments. A forum was set up and after 12 months was legally shut down by the Managing Agents. During that time, 18 other sites were found to have suffered in the same way, all of who were in the same position as us and could not afford to go through the legal system.

This company is still trading. Their local trading standards are not interested as it has not been legally proved that there is a concern.

So, "Ed's" advice of 'Word of mouth' as being good from others that use the agent' is really, really relevant. But it still does not stop any Managing Agent abusing your funds in any way they see fit. Only regulation which includes (perhaps) a two signature approach (RTM and MA) into accounts will solve this concern.

For us, RTM has been extremely hard and stressful. It does concern me when I see posts encouraging people to go for RTM without the detailed advice "Ed" has given, and I am sure will continue to give, and warnings about concerns that can happen even after following every piece of due diligence you are able to.

We were managed by FirstPort Retirement before RTM. The difference is like a breath of fresh air. We saved around £30,000 a year, and of course saving every year forward. We also wait no longer than 48 hours for a detailed response to any query and receive excellent service when required.

From a development point of view, it was all worth it. The RTM have carried out work that was long overdue and we believe the value of our homes has increased. Service is great and we know the level of our funds on a monthly basis.

But regulation of Managing Agents to include some control on our funds cannot come quickly enough.


Posted by Christine on 07 May 2021
Christine,
It won't be published unless you want it to be, could you let me know the name of the managing agent? You are right when you say the police try to pass the buck?
You can get around this by undertaking a little bit of research as to the laws that have been broken ie which sections of the fraud act? Anyone wishing to report any matter to the police say "I wish to make a formal statement concerning fraud. Don't be put off, insist on making the statement. Once something is down on paper it forces the police to act.
Posted by The Editor on 07 May 2021
Thank you Christine for exposing the other side of RTM. I posted the other day about how happy I was to read of an RTM success story at London Court Oxford. But reading Christine's post I have to ask again : is RTM really the answer?

Let me first say that this site (About FirstPort) is an invaluable source of information. (Thanks to Chas, especially, and Michael Epstein and the Editor) And long may it continue to be so. But aren't we just tinkering around the edges while FirstPort continue to laugh at us?

This has gone on long enough and we are achieving nothing but humiliation at the hands of FirstPort. They are LAUGHING at us. Sir Peter Bottomley is right. The only answer is to GET RID OF THESE TOTALLY UNNECESSARY THIRD PARTY SERVICE PROVIDERS (ALONG WITH WHAT SIR PETER CALLS "THESE BIG PROPERTY INTERESTS") ALTOGETHER; REWRITE THE RULES AND GET THE SAME LEGAL PROTECTION FOR THE ELDERLY AS IS PROVIDED FOR (NO DISRESPECT TO ANIMAL LOVERS) AS IS PROVIDED FOR DOMESTIC AND AGRICULURAL ANIMALS.

As long as we have no Commissioner for Older People, we are of less importance in this country than animals.

I am not sure how much more of my energy I want to put into opposing FirstPort. The answer, as far as I am concerned, is to get rid of Managing Agents altogether.

Like Brian, of London Court Oxford (londoncourtoxford.co.uk), I have started my own website. It is being "searched and clicked" more-and-more and I hope it will be not-so-much to help but as to encourage people. But the main thing is that I am saying what I think needs to be said and not messing around on the edges.

It's not at all difficult these days (not at all difficult) to put together a decent website (like Brian, well done Brian) putting across your experiences of Firstport and getting YOUR WORD out there.

Don't oppose FirstPort -- eliminate the bastards!

Posted by David on 08 May 2021
Thank you to the Editor and Christine for your very informative replies. They make interesting and sometimes scary reading!
I too would like to know the MA that caused the problems for Christine. Plus the name of the ongoing MA that appears to have alleviated their concerns. I notice that one MA named on this site, SRS. Has taken RTM from a number of FP sites. Is there any information as to how these developments are now doing? It was mentioned re any potential MA having control of our money. The possibility of our RTM company having the power to co-sign any large amounts of expenditure on our development . Is this a feasibility to be factored into a contract with a new MA!
Again thank you for your replies into this awful (and should be unnecessary) situation we are in.
Posted by nowowawards on 08 May 2021
Davids post asks “is RTM really the answer? My answer to that is a definite “No”, but its really the only weapon leaseholders have at the moment.

It has been noticed on this site that many people have asked how you go about achieving RTM, but, other than ‘employ an expert’ no one has really explained. We have found it “not that easy” and have failed in our attempt.
Lets take just stage 1 -”Employ an expert”. After gauging the support you would obtain from all the eligible leaseholders in your development, which has to be more than 50%, the favoured route is to employ an expert. This is done at a cost to the leaseholders, which has to come direct from their pockets and cannot be taken from the service charge. In addition there are the Freeholders legal costs to pay.

So you calculate the total estimated cost and divide it by the number of supportive, eligible leaseholders for them to pay their share. But what about the non supportive eligible leaseholders? They pay nothing as they do not wish to become RTM members, but will still gain all the savings that RTM make. So why become a member? And when supportive leaseholders know they can enjoy benefits for no costs, they may withdraw their support, leaving not enough supportive leaseholders left to pay for the process. Why should they?

Can anyone who has already got RTM let us know how they dealt with this?
Posted by on 08 May 2021
SRS have overcome many staged protests in large part initiated by the Firstport Dark Arts Society. It appears from all reports that they are providing a very good service and are gaining new developments on the recommendation of their existing customers.
Posted by The Editor on 08 May 2021
As a resident going in our 3rd year of SRS Management I can safely say it is the best thing we have ever done.

We have saved in excess of £70,000 over the first two years whilst having a number of major upgrades on site.

We have lots of involvement and we work as a team with SRS.

They are not all bad !!
Posted by Tatton Court Resident on 08 May 2021
Nowowawards – Unfortunately there are legal reasons why I cannot mention the name of the MA we had problems with. If it helps at all, they are based in the Nottingham area.

The possibility of RTM having the power to co-sign any large amounts of expenditure makes me think about how new RTM’s need to set up their agreement. We obviously discussed this option with some prospective MA’s but they all had reasons why it would not work, all to do with their own systems!

The best control of our finances we could achieve is a copy of the service charge bank statement every month. But of course, this does not include our contingency / reserve fund, which is held separately.

When a MA pitches for your business, one of the main areas they will be able to save against FirstPort is their management fees. But that is not the full story. A prospective MA can pitch low and charge extra for almost everything else they do. If a resident phones them with a genuine enquiry, some MA’s will charge the development for the time taken on that call. Writing to residents can also be charged for. These are just a couple of simple things that all add to what should be a management fee.

In my opinion, an ‘all in’ agreement sets costs in stone, if all parties work to it. Obviously when third parties or section 2o works are involved, extra fees will be necessary. We are all aware of the things that we believe are included in the FirstPort agreement, but are then charged ‘again’ for. With an ‘all in’ agreement, anything else you ask the MA to do will be ‘free’. Also employ your chosen MA as your Company Secretary and they can deal with new members, Companies House, EGM’s, AGM’s etc if you want them to.

What happened to us, and many other developments managed by this MA, is hopefully extremely rare. But this MA is still trading. It is scary that it can happen at any time to any one of us, because of the system that exists. Its also scary how easily it can happen without you having any idea, and with you having no way to find out.

Until the system is changed, RTM will give you better control of your finances than with FirstPort, so it has to be a step to consider.
Posted by Christine on 08 May 2021
Christine,
Please send us the name of the managing agent? It will remain confidential and will not be published.
Posted by The Editor on 08 May 2021
Info sent last night together with some info. Please confirm receipt.
Posted by Christine on 09 May 2021
Christine,
Sorry we have not received it possibly because it was posted to the Feedback section? Could you re-send as though you were posting a comment, but be assured it will not be published.
Many thanks, The Editor.
Posted by The Editor on 09 May 2021
Thank you Christine.
We now have that information which will remain strictly confidential. Whenever you need any assistance we will do our utmost to support you.
Posted by The Editor on 10 May 2021
Thank you "Ed" for you offer of help. I think all avenues have been exhausted.

We have lost our £76,000, and many who contributed to that fund for a better quality of life have now passed on without any benefit.

The system is corrupt.
Posted by Christine on 10 May 2021
Christine hope you are ok and as The Editor has posted I also will help in any way?
Posted by chas on 10 May 2021
Christine. I found your post tragic beyond belief. My heart goes out to you and your friends.

"I think all avenues have been exhausted. We have lost our £76,000, and many who contributed to that fund for a better quality of life have now passed on without any benefit. The system is corrupt."

What sort of country are we living in? Many of the people you mention as having "passed on" are either the last of the Wartime Generation or those who struggled through the austerities of the Post-War years. These people have given more to this country than any of the disgusting "Toe-Rags" who run FirstPort ever have or ever will.

Those outsiders who don't have any connection with FirstPort would not believe what is going on.

Having battled FirstPort for months and years, I have now given up and am concentrating on what appears to be a small but growing campaign (Age Concern, Hourglass, Daily Mirror, The Times, etc.) in getting a Government appointed COMMISSIONER FOR OLDER PEOPLE with responsibility for tackling the growing Financial Exploitation and Fiduciary Abuse of The Elderly on the parts of certain Private Companies and Public Agencies.

Thinking about your departed friends, my battles with FirstPort over a few quid (or even a few hundred quid here and there) is not a good use of what little remains of my life.

Primary Legislation, Firm Regulation and Protection under the Law (none of which currently exist for old people) is the only way forward.

It is now imperative that HM Government extend the same protection to Old People as it does to other Vulnerable Groups.

I will try to email you. Not to help you (that is beyond me) but to offer encouragement and support. If you don't hear from me it will be because I tried and failed.
Again, tragic. Utterly tragic.

David
Posted by David on 11 May 2021
David,
No stone should be left unturned in the fight for leaseholder justice.
Whilst we have been warned about the potential pitfalls of RTM if residents are misled or make a bad choice, the few quid you refer to does make a substantive difference.
Every week Firstport Firstport have to find an extra £96,000 just to pay interest charges on money they were forced to borrow as a last ditch rescue.
That £96,000 can come only from residents as part of a systemic plan to find ever more inventive ways to liberate funds from residential service charges.
So whilst RTM is the way to go, despite the horrendous experiences highlighted by Christine, denying Firstport income is vital.
For those that wish to rely on other bodies should be aware that at the height of the price fixing scandal Age UK backed down from representing cheated pensioners in "extraordinary circumstances" which possibly included a senior member of Age UK staff finding a lucrative position with Peverel/Firstport?
Posted by Michael Epstein on 11 May 2021
Thank you all for the support. It is appreciated.

The purpose of my post was to make leaseholders who are thinking about acquiring RTM aware that it is not always as easy as it sounds. It was not to dissuade people from doing it.

We were managed by FirstPort and the last straw with us at the time was what we believed we had been presented with a fraudulent quote for LED lights – how can places like residents lounge, guest suite, office etc use lights for 24 hours, 7 days a week? - and the alleged need for a total lift refurbishment when a breakdown we had at the time needed a part which cost £4.56 to get it going again. Years later the lift is still working.

A group of residents objected and fought these quotes and FirstPort never carried out any of the work. Instead they lost income from quite a large development.

So we acquired RTM and are in a better position now than we were then.

As has been highlighted many times on this site, FirstPort increasingly need more and more money and the only place they can get money from is you. The sooner you are away from them, the better. And the best advice I can give you when choosing your new Managing Agent is to repeat what has been said many times on this site. Don't just take advice like we did. Choose a Managing Agent by talking to their current residents and include questions you would want to happen, not what they tell you does happen.

And to David – If you still have the strength to carry on campaigning, which I don’t, then please continue your fight with FirstPort in addition to your new campaign to appoint a Commissioner for Older People. As ME states, denying FirstPort income is vital, and your site perfectly details what FirstPort have done and can continue to do if they are allowed. Please don’t give up on that side of things.
Posted by Christine on 11 May 2021
Christine,
You are a credit to everyone standing up for the rights of leaseholders.
Though you have clearly suffered you have chosen to warn others so that they can avoid the same trap you innocently fell into.
Hopefully in time the
pain of horrors that you have suffered will ease and you can look forward to living in a home that you enjoy with a managing agent that is not seeking to rip you off every working day?
Posted by Michael Epstein on 11 May 2021
Again, thank you very much for all the replies to my question. The help and knowledge I have acquired is immeasurable! We are so lucky to have people willing to help us against those that would cheat and rob us. I'm now awaiting a reply from a MA I've been in touch with re RTM. Stay safe
Posted by nowowawards on 11 May 2021
Relief Manager
I have been in disjointed communication with our appointed Area Manager, obviously there was a barrel scraping exercise to fill his post!
Getting a straight answer is always a challenge, and according to our lease, the Managing Agent should give their best efforts into providing a Relief Manager during times when the Resident Manager is on holiday/or sick.
Apparently we have to make a financial allowance in our service charge for a Relief to offer cover.
No costings for this service have been proffered, and it sounds extremely doubtful that there would be a relief available to cover at all !
Does anyone have any experience that they care to share to aid a resolution of this debacle.
Many Thanks M
Posted by Concerned Resident on 05 May 2021
M.

I believe from what you have posted your Managing Agent is Firstport?

This Relief Managers Position is I believe a Scam.

The Residential Manager is paid a Salary which covers the 52 weeks.

Of this 48 weeks are for working and the other 4 are paid holidays.

Here is the Scam the Relief Manager receives more money per hour and on top of that there is added:

* Holiday Pay 5%
* Pension 5%
* Travel Allowance £0.45ppm

So we pay for the 52 weeks and then we pay for 4 weeks holiday again so we pay for 56 weeks and at a much higher basic rate.

Hope this helps you understand the way Firstport Scam Residents.
Posted by chas on 05 May 2021
RTM for London Court
On 26 April the leaseholders of London Court successfully removed FirstPort as their landlord- appointed managing agent.

London Court is a retirement development of 43 apartments in Oxford, and the leaseholders decided that they wanted to go down the Right to Manage route to allow them to appoint their own managing agent. They wanted a managing agent of their choice, not the landlord’s and one which would work for the benefit of the leaseholders and residents and not to fund a huge multi-layered organisation which lacked the transparency our leaseholders wanted and deserved.

We started the process around August 2020 and all has gone very smoothly, despite some unwelcome interventions from FirstPort. We have now appointed a new managing agent, Covenant Management, who are local to us and can deliver everything we want to run the development for the total benefit of the leaseholders and residents.

To all those who complain bitterly (and rightly) about their appointed (by the landlord) managing agent, we, the leaseholders at London Court Oxford strongly advise you to follow the Right to Manage claim process. With specialist professional help and a strong commitment from residents to see it through, you will succeed and enjoy the fruits of your labour in years to come.

There is much more to say, but for now, we are looking forward to a future under our control. We have put an RTM section on our development website – www.londoncourtoxford.co.uk and we hope this helps you decide that RTM is a great way to go. Good luck.
Posted by Brian on 05 May 2021
Absolutely delighted to hear the great news of your escape from Firstport and thank you for sharing the news with us. Everyone should look at the www.londoncourtoxford.co.uk website. It is truly inspirational and very informative. Well done to all at London Court.
Posted by The Editor on 05 May 2021
This article has made my day, my week, my month, my year.

Thank You!

I feel so much more optimistic. It can be done. Every FirstPort Victim should read the website indicated in this article and bookmark it.

The website itself deserves to go viral.

That's the way to go!
Posted by David on 06 May 2021
Welcome to this site
Posted on 05 May 2021
New Appointment FIRST PORT
Posted on 03 May 2021
MPs and Lords
Posted on 30 April 2021
No Title
Posted on 29 April 2021
Contractors
Posted on 29 April 2021
WILL FIRSTPORT ADMITS MORE ERRORS
Posted on 29 April 2021
What Not to Do DM's?
Posted on 29 April 2021
Something Going On?
Posted on 27 April 2021
New Rules for Managers
Posted on 27 April 2021
Welcome to Monitoring
Posted on 26 April 2021
It's Better In Scotland
Posted on 23 April 2021
Chamberlayne Walk Estate Refunds
Posted on 20 April 2021
FIRSTPORT - NONE HUMAN ERROR
Posted on 14 April 2021
No Title
Posted on 14 April 2021
LEASEHOLD PURCHASE
Posted on 11 April 2021
House Managers Flat Rent
Posted on 10 April 2021
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