IN a bid to prevent a ‘Bleak House’-type scenario from arising again, Ramsey Commissioners are to call on their MHKs to bring the matter to the floor of Tynwald.
‘Bleak House’, the former Peveril Court in Mooragh Promenade, has fallen into disrepair over the years. The commissioners are currently spending £35,000 on emergency repairs to make it safe.
Commissioner Richard Radcliffe has called on colleagues to support his proposal that Tynwald pass legislation to prevent such a situation arising again.
The problems began after Premier Enterprises, which bought Peveril Court in 1987, was struck off and the freehold became bona vacantia and was vested in the Treasury.
Mr Radcliffe said a ‘seemingly irreconcilable dispute followed that led to the building falling into disrepair.
‘The Treasury should have put into being a proper management company in which the leaseholders would have been shareholders,’ he said. ‘The rights, duties and obligations of the leaseholders with regard to the fabric of the building would have been set out.’
Treasury disclaimed the freehold interest and in 1997 the court ordered that the freehold title should be vested in the leaseholders. Shortly after this Michael Morris began to acquire the leases however, he was unable to obtain the leases to the bar flat and flat 1A which continueed to be held by former licensees.
‘We have a building that is continuing to deteriorate because of the impasse created and the fact that lease terms are not enforceable,’ Mr Radcliffe said.
Special legislation could prevent a repeatOne way out, he suggested, was for the commissioners to request that special legislation be passed. ‘The effect would be for the unencumbered freehold and leasehold interests to be passed into the ownership of the commissioners absolutely, he said.
‘The property would then be sold on the open market and the proceeds used in the first instance to reimburse the costs incurred by the commission.
Any surplus could be distributed between the leaseholders using a formula to be set by a qualified valuer. The existing freehold owner could still buy the property.
Legislation should prevent buildings with multiple leasehold interests from not having a proper management company.
Only Wilf Young voted against the idea, saying the commissioners should never have got involved in the matter.
l Bleak House is the name of a Charles Dickens novel in which many of the characters are involved in an endless chancery suit, Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, which never reaches a conclusion from which anyone benefits.