I am not going to comment too much at this stage, we have a baby on the way and I could do with a bit of time off from thinking about the Keepmoat stuff.
However, although the report does admit some wrong doing there are some parts which still do not tally with the evidence we have nor does it tally with Keepmoat’s version of events. This leaves us with more questions than answers as it makes us wonder what the findings are based on. However, the report does show that the SHC completed a more in depth investigation then what was undertaken by Keepmoat.
Although Tom Fenton, from the Sheffield Housing Company (a partnership with Keepmoat Homes, Sheffield Council and Great Places), has apologised for some of the issues the report has not touched upon the unrealistic 2 day deadline to sell our house, the aggressive and patronising behaviour of the sales agents, the allegation that we are liars, and the threat of court and police action.
I appreciate that Tom is stuck between a rock and a hard place in regards to the forgery of the reservation form. He can not publicly admit that Keepmoat attempted to defraud us but his analysis that it is “has not been possible however to establish definitively whether the second reservation form had been “created”…” does not impress me. Keepmoat Homes, Sheffield Housing Company and the Sheffield Council can be, in my opinion, in no doubt that my husband did not sign the form. We have proven he was at work at the time this second reservation form was “created”.
He finishes the letter by saying that they have fallen below their standards and can only apologise for this. Under the circumstances an apology does not go anywhere near enough mending any bridges and his suggestion that his report will bring an end to the matter is optimistic. I don’t think that Keepmoat, Sheffield Housing Company or the Sheffield Council fully understand the effect that threats of court and police action can have on someone especially people who have, and will continue to be, honest about what happened.
As said we have a baby on the way, so for now, apart from a couple of updates, I will not be posting anymore to the website.
A bit of background to the report.
Keepmoat supplied us with their “final response” to our complaint, in the form of a letter from Mark Knight. In which he referred us back to a previous response and advised us if we were still not satisfied to contact Tom Fenton from the Sheffield Housing Company. His final response still did not answer the many questions we had or provided an adequate response to our complaint.
The Sheffield Housing Company promised to do an independent investigation into our complaint in “order to satisfy both the Housing Company and its Directors, but as importantly yourselves, that what is intended is a completely open and transparent process”. There are 6 directors of the Sheffield Housing Company, three from the Sheffield Council and 3 from Keepmoat Homes. One of these directors is Mark Knight.
Please note that the below has been taken from a PDF and converted with a OCR reader. Errors have been corrected where noticed.
Sheffield Housing Company
Sheffield Housing Company, SIF 8, Showroom Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX Tel: 0114 273 0119 Web: www.sheffieldhousingcompany.co.uk
Mr M Simmons & Ms A Siddall
25th June 2014
Dear Mr Simmons & Ms Siddall,
REVIEW INTO THE PROSPECTIVE PURCHASE OF PLOT 42 BREARLEY FORGE
Further to correspondence via email between myself and Ms Siddall and your various communications with Keepmoat and other parties, I promised to undertake a full review of your case file.
The following review has been carried out by Sheffield Housing Company. It is based on a full review of the written information supplied by Keepmoat between themselves and yourselves and also information gained predominantly from your website www.mykeepmoathell.com,
Keepmoat is the appointed selling agent for Sheffield Housing Company.
A summary of the grievances asserted by yourselves in the various communications and our findings against these are set out below:
1. The Accuracy of Information Provided Prior to Reservation
Our review of the information concludes that there were technical differences between the information that was passed to you as prospective purchasers at the time of reservation and that which was intended to be built, indeed had these been apparent at the time of reservation then you may have exercised a judgement that you did not wish to proceed with the purchase at that point.
In light of the above, we have instructed Keepmoat to ensure that up to date and accurate information be provided to all prospective purchasers at the time of reservation and that this is reinforced at the Plot Scheduling meeting, so that each party in unequivocally clear about what is being sold and what is being purchased.
2. The Provision of a Solar Tube and Additional Lighting
It would appear that due to the issues identified in item 1 above, that the prospect of fitting a solar tube and/or additional lighting was explored as an alternative measure. There seems to be a lack of clarity about whether or not the request for the solar tube could be accommodated in reasonable cost terms to the Housing Company at the stage of build that the home was currently in, however this was not communicated to you the prospective purchaser in perhaps the most transparent of terms.
We believe that clarity of communication on this point was not sufficiently good enough, nor transparent and timely enough about the real cost implications of such a request on the viability of the sale and we have instructed Keepmoat to ensure that is improved should any such specification issues arise with another purchaser in the future.
3. Provision of Consumer Code for Home Builders
Our review concludes that Keepmoat are bound by the Consumer Code for Home Builders, which requires a copy to be visible at the point of sale and also for a copy to be passed to the potential purchaser at the time of reservation. We can find no confirmation that this did happen in your case and therefore the following remedial action has been taken.
All show homes now have a copy of the Consumer Code in the office and all purchasers are to be given their own copy at the time of reservation and should have the document explained to them. setting out the level of information a purchaser can expect on reservation and also any dispute resolution procedures should the need arise.
4. Provision of a formal Complaints Procedure as set out under the Code
We agree that at the time of your reservation Keepmoat did not have an acknowledged Customer Complaints procedure in place which is contrary to the aforementioned Consumer Code for Home Builders and therefore this was not set out to you.
In light of the above and your previous communications on this matter to Keepmoat directly, I can confirm that they have initiated a formal complaints procedure which is now in place and available.
5. Reservation Forms
Our review of the reservation forms concludes that the first reservation form signed by yourselves does not include all elements that it should under the Consumer Code for Home Builders and in particular, salient information regarding the costs of management given the property is being sold as leasehold.
It has not been possible however to establish definitively whether the second reservation form had been “created” and your suggestion that the form was completed without your full knowledge and involvement is acknowledged. Clearly there should be no ambiguity here and the fact that the two forms differ in respect to the information provided is of concern and does not accord with the good practice which we would expect our sales agents to follow.
The third and final reservation form which was signed by Mr Simmons, appears to contain the correct level of information that we would expect and be compliant under the Consumer Code, however it is not clear whether the additional management charges were indeed explained to you at the time of reservation from the information we have reviewed.
There have clearly been failings in the administration of the reservation process and all costs, expenditure and implications of the reservation should have been properly explained to you so there was no prospect of ambiguity. Again as a result of the representations made directly to Keepmoat by yourselves, changes have been made to reservation forms and the whole reservation process to try and ensure that this cannot happen again.
6. Completion Date
It would appear from the correspondence reviewed that the original target date for completion was September 2013, however notification of the first actual target completion date of 27/09/13 was only three weeks prior to completion, which is contrary to Keepmoats normal practice of five to six weeks.
The target completion date was subsequently changed by agreement between the solicitors to the 31/10/13 acting upon the advice of the independent sales agent. Our conclusions here are that communication at this crucial time, with your related sale being material to the purchase. was paramount and there are most probably failings on all sides and from Keepmoat’s perspective there are lessons and improvements which can be made.
7. Re-sale of the Property
Our review of the information suggests that certainly the solicitors who acted for you in the proposed sale were adequately informed by Atherton Godfrey that should the sale not complete on the 31/10/13. then the contract would be withdrawn and the property remarketed for sale. Whether this information was passed to yourselves in a timely manner is unclear and we are unable to verify that.
There is evidence that the above was also attempted to be communicated to Mr Simmons on the 1/11/13 by email, however owing to the fact that an incorrect email address was utilised it was never received which exacerbated matters.
A new reservation was taken on the property post expiration of the second and final target date for completion (31/10/13) and therefore this does appear to be reasonable given the communications which had been sent through the formal channels to your solicitor.
The collapse of a sale due to factors outside of the control of the purchaser is never something that anyone wants, however on future sales Keepmoat has amended its reservation form to clarify how and when a reservation agreement may end so that there is better clarity at the outset for all parties.
8. Fees and Expenses of Prospective Purchasers
It would appear that certain costs and expenses were not reimbursed in a timely manner in accordance with the Consumer Code which Keepmoat have acknowledged and for which they have apologised. In addition, it is our understanding and the correspondence appears to confirm that all other costs properly incurred by yourselves in this transaction have been reimbursed in full.
Again, improvements have now been made to the systems which will speed up how costs are to be reimbursed should the need arise again in the future as a result of your direct communications with Keepmoat on this matter.
There has been a huge amount of communication between the parties and investigations have concluded that whilst Keepmoat did not seek to minimise or withdraw from communicating with yourselves, in a number of instances communication from Keepmoat has been less efficient than would be expected by ourselves or prospective purchasers. This may be the result of a large number of people being involved and/or sometimes communications being incorrectly addressed, the latter of which is inexcusable.
In order to ensure that this situation cannot manifest again, where possible, one point of contact at Keepmoat will be used in any communications with prospective purchasers. In addition, with a formal complaints handling procedure now in place, we would hope that matters would be dealt with more clearly and expediently in the future such that they should not escalate in the way they have here.
10. Subject Access Request
Investigations have concluded that the dossier compiled by Keepmoat in response to the SAR did not entirely correspond with best practice suggested by the ICO and arrived a couple of days outside of the stipulated forty day period.
Subsequent correspondence shows that Keepmoat acknowledged that some information had been “incorrectly omitted” from the response and was now being provided. This final response was thirty days late and does not accord with best practice.
Overall, the findings of this review show that we and our agents have fallen in a number of instances, below the high standards that we have set for ourselves and we can only apologise unreservedly for this.
The Sheffield Housing Company has a clear policy to regenerate the areas within which it is working and our own research shows that the majority of our purchasers are local people to the sites, or are people who have a historic connection with the areas in question. We therefore take no pleasure in you finding yourselves in a position where you were unable to proceed with the purchase given your historic roots to the area.
We do however feel that a great deal of time has been spent by many parties on this matter, including yourselves, which it is in no one’s interests to perpetuate and we trust that in concluding this investigation, that this can be an end to the matter for all concerned.
I apologise once again for any treatment which has not been in keeping with the way in which the Sheffield Housing Company or any of its agents, contractors or consultants would wish to conduct itself.
TOM FENTON MRICS
Sheffield Housing Company
Registered Office: The Waterfront, Lakeside Boulevard, Doncaster, DN4 5PL
Registered Number: 07549600
My husband queried the “agreed” completion deadline of the 31st of October, it was made very clear by our solicitor that the date could not be achieved. Tom as now said that the deadline was not extended by mutual agreement with our solicitor but instead it was agreed between Keepmoat and our agent (YourMove) on the 19th of September. The 31st date was given, according to Tom, to give the best chance to complete the sale. I would like to highlight the following about this.
- YourMove was instructed and being paid by Keepmoat
- Estate Agents do not set completion deadlines
- Information about the agreement with YourMove was not passed to us, our purchaser, or our solicitor on the 19/09/13. Nor should a completion date have been agreed with YourMove, it should have been agreed with our solicitor.
Both the Sheffield Housing Company and Keepmoat try to make it sound like they were being generous when they extended the deadline from the 27th of September to the 31st of October. The house had not been signed off on the 27th and therefore completion could not take place. The house wasn’t due to be signed off until sometime between 21st – 25th of October. The extension to the 31st for completion was clearly decided because the house should have been ready by then, not as some sort of favour to us.
Sheffield Housing Company state:
“…Following a further review of the information we hold, there is nothing in the information that we have seen which suggests that the final date for completion (31/10/13) was set by mutual agreement between solicitors, so my apologies if my previous letter was misleading on that point…
We believe that the date changed as a result of the communication between Keepmoat and your agents on the 19/9/13, in which a realistic timescale was being suggested to complete the related sale of your own property. Clearly it would appear in both party’s interests to set a revised completion date which allowed the purchase the best chance of being concluded.”
But if they wanted to give the sale the best chance of being concluded then surely Keepmoat would have told us and our solicitor on the 19/09/2013 and not waited until the 16/10/2013? If it was in both parties interests then both parties need to be made aware of the new completion date, it is not an agreement if only one side knows about it and the other has no input into the decision. Plus again this also goes against the Consumer Code of Homebuilders.
Keepmoat’s Homes Peter Hindley also backs up the findings of Tom Fenton in a letter received on 06/08/2014. I could go into all the why reasons of why the findings of the report don’t tally with what we know. But I can’t be bothered to reiterate the same old stuff over again, which I’m sure is Keepmoat’s aim here – just keep lying and dodging questions until we go away. Peter Hindley has offered to meet us if we feel it will help – well as he has already decided that the report from the SHC is correct there not much point is there? My husband might want to meet but I can’t see the point it, won’t achieve anything.
I think both the Sheffield Housing Company and Keepmoat Homes should read the report and read their own Customer Charter, which was linked to on our site many months ago, but I have copied a few bits for reference below. The new procedures and lessons learnt they talk of are nothing new. Keepmoat already “do” the stuff they should be doing according to the charter. They already have the procedures and they already know what they are doing is wrong. What makes the Sheffield Housing Company (SHC) and Sheffield Council think that if Keepmoat couldn’t abide by their own rules before they are going to do anything different now? The answer is nothing, nothing will change – we suffered and there is a good chance many others will suffer too.
At Keepmoat, customers are our first consideration.
We will endeavour to make the purchase of a Keepmoat home a pleasant experience and your ownership a delight.
Group Business Development Director
We, as a company, comply with the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and Property Misdescriptions Act 1991.
Customer Service Charter
A copy of this book/document is available to all of our potential customers and forms part of the reservation documents.
We, as a company, have trained staff who are aware of our key legal responsibilities and are available to help our customers throughout the purchasing process.
We operate an effective after-sales service that will address any problems that the customer may have, with the time-scales detailed.
The customers’ health and safety are of paramount importance to us and we provide relevant information with regard to our customers’ welfare.
We will provide a copy of ‘The Consumer Code for Home Builders’.
Sales information prior to visiting the site
Details of housetypes and availability will be provided when requested.
The Customer Service Charter and The Consumer Code for Home Builders will be
provided upon request.
Details of sales office opening times and a contact telephone number will be supplied
Sales information at the sales office
Details of availability will be provided.
The selling prices of released properties will be provided.
The purchasing procedure will be explained by our trained staff and advice will be given on the benefits of appointing legal and financial professionals.
Details of any management service charges will be available. The Customer Charter and The Consumer Code for Home Builders will be available.
Information on the accommodation, appearance and plot position will be available and any customer choices will be explained.
Customers will be given information on health and safety precautions before visiting any area of the development where construction work is being carried out.
Making a reservation
An explanation of the reservation form and its commitments will be given to the customer.
The expiry date of the reservation will be explained. Timings for completion will be given at the point of reservation, subject to the property’s construction status.
A refundable reservation fee (subject to deduction of reasonable costs) will be taken.
The reservation form will clearly indicate the plot number, address (if available), the price and time that the reservation will remain valid and the cost of any agreed variation at the
time of reserving.
The reservation form must be signed and dated by both the customer and our company representative.
The name of Keepmoat’s solicitors will be provided and the customer’s solicitor’s details will be recorded (if known).
Details of any management company relating to the property will be provided.
A copy of our Customer Charter and The Consumer Code will be given to the customer, if not previously supplied.
During the reservation period
The customer will be given details of progress, both legal and constructional.
Any changes to the property will be given in writing to the customer before the contract is exchanged. The customer will be consulted and agreement sought on any significant change to the size and appearance of the dwelling.
The legal documentation will be sent to the customer’s appointed solicitor.
Advice will be given by our trained staff on the importance of the customer discussing and
understanding the legal documentation with their own solicitor (with specific reference to contract termination).
If any customer is not satisfied with our service, they should make a complaint in writing and address this to our Regional Managing Director, clearly stating their issues. This letter will be receive a response within 7 working days.
If any issue that the customer considers is not dealt with in a reasonable time and if they
are unhappy with the responses from the Keepmoat Regional Managing Director, the
issues can be referred to the NHBC for their Dispute Resolution Service.