Westbury Residential Ltd, London-based property managers with a specialism in Tribunal appointments, has joined forces with the Urang Group who currently manage over 340 blocks across London.
Westbury’s Alison Mooney has been involved as manager in several high-profile blocks in which major battles between leaseholders and landlords have occupied the courts over many years and has even attracted the attention of the media. As Urang’s managing director, Paul Cleaver said:
“Alison’s success in navigating through complex landlord-lease holder relationships and dealing with multiple Tribunals with appeals right up to judicial review will be a huge asset for Urang and our clients. There is an increasing demand for the even-handed approach that a Tribunal-appointed manager brings to a building with problems and we want to respond this demand.”
Alison Mooney’s two most high-profile appointments saw the powers of a Tribunal-appointed manager taken further than previously thought possible. Her 2015 appointment at the request of lessees saw an order made including the commercial premises, with the manager to receive the commercial rent on behalf of the freeholder, to be paid on to them less the freeholder’s share of repairing costs. Queensbridge, the landlord, claimed that the order “went substantially further than was permissible and the making of which amounted to an error of law”. The Upper Tier Tribunal hearing in Queensbridge Investments Limited v Lodge & Ors  UKUT 635 (LC) rejected this.
In a later appointment in 2018, as manager of the Grand in Folkestone, this principle was further extended. The Grand, described in 2020 by Judge Mark Loveday as “the most litigated building in the country”, had been blighted by the historic failure of the landlord to pay towards the overall maintenance of the building despite occupying 25% of the Grand with its commercial activities. Working closely with Peter Cobrin, the chair of the residents’ association, a revised management order was drafted which retained the existing service charge liabilities of lessees but made the landlord liable for 25% on top of the standard service charge – in effect allowing the collection of 125% of the annual budget. This radical extension of the Tribunal’s discretion survived appeals up to and including Judicial Review. The end result of this culminated in the landlord being placed into administration in December 2020 and Alison’s appointment being extended for a further three years.
According to Peter Cobrin:
“We saw in the Queensbridge case parallels with our situation with a delinquent landlord. We also saw in Alison someone who really cared about our plight as leaseholders facing spiralling service charges and a crumbling building. What neither she nor I realised were the measures that the landlord would place in her way to obstruct her and how skilfully she would resist them.”
Paul Cleaver sees the joining of forces with Westbury as very timely in view of the recent proposed changes in leasehold law. These shift the balance in favour of leaseholders across a range of issues such as ground rents and lease extensions.
“Alison’s expertise in balancing the interests of lessees and landlords, and of working with residents’ associations will be a great asset to us.”
Let Alison have the last word:
“Having the infrastructure of a major management company behind my work will improve the service I can provide and allow me to focus on the real things that my clients want”.