Prepare for some nasty surprises over the coming months as the Insolvency Service take control of the assets of the bankrupt Michael and Doris Stainer. One of these is the flat that never was.
Apart from their own flat, the Lodge, the Stainers owned eighteen flats which formed their holiday-let empire. These were managed on their behalf through the Grand and a variety of companies, most of whom are now in liquidation. As and from November 8th 2018, when they were declared bankrupt, these flats came under the control of the Trustees in Bankruptcy. All of these flats and the outstanding service charge payments were documented in January 2018 before the First Tier Property Tribunal when the Stainers were found liable for £167,000 of unpaid service charges. Needless to say, there is some hope amongst the property-buying classes that some bargains might come up, so we spoke to a friendly local agent to get some ideas as to prices.
We then used the floor plans on the Grand’s own website to identify each flat, and then hit a problem. We couldn’t find a flat known as the Grand Suite. We asked some former employees of the Grand who were as nonplussed as we were. So we went to the Land Registry and did a search and found the flat and its title number K841823, registered to Doris Stainer. She acquired it in July 2002 for £5,000 and there is a charge to Topaz Finance, and a Bankruptcy Notice (Land Charges Reference Number PA 20365/18). The Land Registry also shows the location of the flat within the Grand, and here the plot thickens.
An examination of the Grand’s website plans places the Grand Suite firmly in an area better known to the drinking classes as Keppels. In other words, it doesn’t exist, and yet there is a mortgage on it which based on figures obtained last year during the Tribunal case is around £100,000. There was a planning application made on the 18th June 2001 under the reference Y01/0544/SH for the “Alternative use of part of bar lounge and dining area as a separate flat unit.“ and we have now received a copy of the drawings submitted by Godden and Allen, a section of which we reproduce below, with handwritten annotations in Michael Stainer’s handwriting.
It shows clearly that the majority of the area known as Keppels was intended to be a self-contained flat, otherwise why grant a lease on it and make oneself liable for service charges. It was self-evidently on this basis that Topaz Finance granted a mortgage and when questioned, they haven’t denied this.
So we have a lot of unanswered questions which we have passed to the appropriate authorities to secure answers. We also have been advised that Hallam Estates Ltd, the Grand’s freeholder, is somewhat ambiguous in its position, claiming the planning was for dual use which certainly doesn’t tally with the application or its outcome. In any case, why go out of your way to make oneself liable for service charges by creating a lease on something that has never had even the possibility of residential use?
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime