What is Michael Stainer – not the owner of the Grand, “just the manager of the freehold” – game? A senior source who works for Mr Stainer informs the Vox that he is seeking to increase the number of flats they he and his wife own in the Grand; which currently stands at 17. It is strange when Mr & Mrs Stainer owe a large sum in unpaid maintenance and service charges – rumoured to be in the range of £150 – 200 hundred thousand pounds.
Mr Stainer is not unknown to the courts or HMRC, as we have explained in previous blogs. While searching Lexis Nexus (a legal database) we at the Vox happened to stumble across a case which was buried in the 1980’s. In this case the residents of the Grand went through a major court battle to get their dwindling leases extended on reasonable terms, and after considerable cost and resistance from the Stainers, the residents were successful. On September 15th 1987, an Order was made by Master Barratt in proceedings in the High Court of Justice Chancery Division, case reference CH1985 M7034” between John Frederick Morgan and others and Michael Stainer
The key to the case after seeking legal clarification is this:
“Not to grant any future lease of a flat (but not other premises) in the Building…………………….except (mututis mutandis – “once the necessary changes have been made” ) upon the same terms as the terms in the Principal Leases.”
What does that mean? Well in short Mr Stainer has to provide leases in the same terms as the original leases which were granted before he became the owner of the Grand, then later just the “manager of the freehold”
The Shepwayvox team have been scouring the UK for previous leaseholders and we found quite a few and all of them; without exception were prepared to share their leases with us.
So we have some questions for Mr & Mrs Stainer
Is it true you are relying on clauses contained in an agreement that was signed when new or extended leases were granted?
Is it true that these force leaseholders to offer their flats to you at a price equivalent to ”an offer to purchase the lease on the basis of an open market sale”?
Is it true that this would require some unsuspecting purchaser to enter negotiations unaware that he or she might be gazumped at the very last moment just to sustain this open market value?
Ignoring the ethics of compelling leaseholders of going through a charade of offering their property onto the market, is Mr.Stainer in fact behaving legally?
If all the above are answered yes Mr Stainer, is this squirrelling in of a buy-back clause a slap in the face for all those who signed it?
Master Barratt thankfully made it clear that no squirrelling of any new clauses would be allowed. As, we said, the Vox team have had sight of a good number of leases and it would appear that Mr & Mrs Stainer may well have attempted to put in new clauses. The legal advice we received makes it clear that any new clauses would not be worth the paper they are written and would cause unnecessary nuisance value to those seeking to sell and buy in the Grand and be potentially vexatious in nature.
As a final note, should Mr.Stainer have the funds to buy back flats, what would all those interested parties owed money have to say?