The curious case of the flat that never was

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.

Screenshot from 2019-08-08 21-57-51

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.

Screenshot from 2019-08-08 22-09-03

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

About shepwayvox (1820 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email:

12 Comments on The curious case of the flat that never was

  1. As a question, isn’t this mortgage fraud?

    • shepwayvox // August 9, 2019 at 07:03 // Reply

      A R you might say that but we couldn’t possibly comment.

    • Gosh why would one need a mortgage on a home that was never converted from a bar into a flat? Or conversely Poor Mrs Stainer having to live with Drinkers and Staff in an area she viewed as her home 😉

  2. Did the Stainers actually obtain planning permission for the change of use? Also and more importantly, what did they state on their mortgage application form to Topaz Finance? Topaz Finance may argue that they lend money on the basis of misrepresentations by the applicants. I am sure the Trustee in Bankruptcy is now considering whether or not an offence has been committed and if so this could be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.

  3. This is not the only flat that never was I believe. There is the old water tank room used for storage, which, if memory serves me well, is mortgaged by Nat-west for £10,000. NW were informed by at least two residents but totally ignored the matter. Then there is the Studio which could not be found on the council tax list until informed by some well intentioned person. It now has a council tax band. There is I recollect also some unnamed accommodation over one of the garages.

  4. The planning permission lapsed many years ago “no part of the works permitted by the planning consent were undertaken and the consent included a condition concerning when the works must start (usually within between3 and 5 years), the consent would have lapsed by now.”

  5. Certainly raises the bar on my definition of Chutzpah!!!

  6. Has Mrs Stainer paid the council tax on the flat as it exists – according to the Land Registry and the Mortgage company – or is she non compliant just like the Shepwayvox Team told us her husband was back in 2016?

    Grand employees have made it clear earlier this year the Council sent in the bailifs to collect somewhere in the region of £10K of unpaid Council Tax, which was found eventually after looking down every sofa and turning over every stone.

    So Mrs Stainer have you paid your Council Tax on this flat?

  7. The Council confirms as follows: ..”the ‘flat’ in question has never actually been separated from the bar area. In order for the property to be rated as a separate domestic hereditament, it would need to have either come into actual occupation (by either the owners or a tenant/licensee living in there as a domestic property) or have had sufficient building works completed such that the property was capable of occupation (as a residential property) within 3 months. A planning application, whether to subdivide the property as per the plans in the article, or for a change of use of an existing room or building would not in itself cause the Valuation Office Agency to reassess the hereditament.” So no council tax due, however plenty of service charges!!!!

  8. My friend rented this apartment for months while her house was being renovated quite a few years. back .

  9. The Managing Agent has just secured a legal charge in the High Court over this “flat” and some other areas……..

  10. The secret of life in the house of Stainers lies in the search for “ Emperor’s New Cloth “ !!

Leave a Reply to P CCancel reply

%d bloggers like this: