Estate Neglect & Mismanagement

A History of
Non-works & Neglect
Under the Feldman’s

Dorchester Court was built by respected local builder and developer H C Morrell in 1935 At the same time he built himself a house, matching in stylistic qualities, next door on Dorchester Drive.

Even a brief walk-past reveals how the house has been lovingly maintained over the years. Dorchester Court, however, has not been so fortunate.

1959

The Feldman family buys Dorchester Court. The ensuing years sees a catalogue of neglect, damage and botched works.

Early 1990s

The DCRA begins campaigning for renovations to Dorchester Court.

2003

Manaquel Ltd (the Feldman’s holding company) and the DCRA go to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to agree a scope and cost for the renovation works.

The landlord agrees with the decision and makes a commitment to renovate without developing the estate.

When the Tribunal members toured the site, they felt that “[i]f well-maintained Dorchester Court would be an attractive period building capable of offering a pleasant living environment. It has not however been well maintained: there is an air of general dereliction which must substantially reduce the value and marketability of the flats.”

And in conclusion they stated “[g]iven the doctrine of corporate responsibility, the Applicant [Manaquel] must bear a heavy degree of responsibility for the serious situation that had arisen. Its past failure to fulfil its repairing obligations had created a situation in which the cost of the proposed work was bound to be put in issue and to that extent it had brought the application upon itself.”

2005

Works to replace the estate’s heating and hot water system start. The project is expected to take 12 months. Works were still on-going in 2014, 9 years after they began.

2008

As part of heating works the landlord installs new pipework throughout the common parts, despite the original pipework being in good condition.

Manaquel permits workmen to drill through the terrazzo flooring, and generally ignore the listed status of the building. The new pipework restricts access to 16 flats.

Planning permission was not sought in advance. Only when the DCRA forces the issue is an application submitted as an afterthought, in 2010. Planning permission was denied by Lambeth Council. However the pipework was not removed until the leaseholders did it themselves in 2013.

2013

Manaquel Ltd takes the leaseholders to the LVT claiming £2.1 million in service charges over the previous 6 years.

The leaseholders defended this claim and demonstrated incompetence, illegal billing (some for other estates), overcharging and poor purchasing. The claim was reduced to £1.625 million resulting in a significant refund of around £5,000 per leaseholder.

2015

There is a county court claim for the settlement of phase 1 of the refurbishment works, which included the botched heating works.

The project incurred £3.4 million of costs as a result of delays, overcharging by contractors, and contractors changing when the previous one left for non-payment. The action was settled in 2015 by mediation for £2 million, resulting in an average refund of £12,500 per leaseholder.

2015

Several tenants object to rent increases while living conditions worsen. Most were evicted. The story was covered in the local press.

2018

Four blocks on the estate have lifts out of commission for several months. Blocks housing OAP’s, pregnant women and families with babies were badly affected.

2019 | 20

Dorchester Court is hit by persistent and prolonged heating and hot water outages throughout the winter months.

The DC Tenant’s Union forms, seeking estate wide compensation, and protesting against the poor living conditions, including damp, mold, cockroaches and vermin. MP Helen Hayes writes to Property Partners (managing agents) twice in support of the tenant’s union, urging the landlord to improve the poor living conditions.