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Southend police pledge to look into property company’s practices
A TOP cop is to launch an investigation into a company accused of “bullying” residents out of thousands of pounds.
Insp Matt Bennett, of Southend police, has promised to investigate two cases where residents of the 1,800-home Burges Estate, Thorpe Bay, have been charged fees by the Regis Group for permission to alter their homes.
Mr Bennett made his pledge to 200 members of the Burges Estate Residents’ Association, at St Augustine’s Church, Thorpe Bay.
He accused the company, which owns the freehold to the estate, of being “morally wrong” for trying to extract money from people whose homes are covered by a covenant which restricts alterations.
Southend East MP James Duddridge , who lives on the estate, also attended the meeting. He told residents: “Regis Group are a bunch of bullies.
“They have bought this covenant and they want to screw as much money out of you and me as possible. We can’t acquiesce to that.
“The way to tackle a big bully is to get together and fight them.”
Residents claim Pier Management, Regis’s local arm, sometimes demands tens of thousands of pounds, if people want to make improvements to their property.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 protects leaseholders from paying anything more than a reasonable administration charge for the changes.
Mr Bennett promised to investigate two cases where residents claim Pier Management demanded high premiums, despite knowing they were leaseholders.
He said: “We will gather the evidence. Whatever anyone’s view, it’s morally wrong. This is what I became a police officer for.”
Ron Woodley, chairman of the residents’ association and an independent councillor, said the Government had confirmed residents only had to pay a “reasonable administration charge”.
He called on residents to pay no more than £250 plus VAT, refer the case to him and make Pier Management take them to court.
He said: “We have got to stick together and starve Regis of funds.”
The association, which has already paid £14,000 for legal opinions, has amassed a £90,000 fighting fund to take on the company and will send letters to every home on the estate advising them not to pay a premium.
The Echo approached Southend-based Pier Management for comment, but it did not respond.
For more information, visit www.bera. co.uk