Philippa Turner is our longest standing committee member, who was connected with FPRA before it existed! In the early 1970s, the organisation which campaigned for lessees’ rights, was the Federation of London County Residents’ Associations. In about 1974, this changed its name to FPRA and it was at this time that Philippa became involved with it when she attended an ad hoc meeting organised by COPRA (The Conference of Private Residents’ Associations), out which FPRA was born.
This was when lessees had far fewer rights than they have now. Until the late ’60s the vast majority of flats had been rented, but from this time when landlords began to sell long leases, there was little incentive for the more responsible to remain freeholders and they sold on, often to those whose only motive was to make a quick profit by whatever means offered, and not to manage the building in the best interests of the residents. When lessees began to complain about their treatment, FPRA realised what an important role it could play and Philippa – then a barrister living in a mansion block – found herself answering numerous questions from aggrieved residents. Later she sat on the Nugee Committee, responsible for drafting the 1987 Landlord and Tenant Act which, although it has been much criticised, was responsible for giving leaseholders, for the first-time, the opportunity of purchasing the freehold of their blocks.
Philippa has now retired, having spent her working life in the legal field. As a youngster she was determined not to have anything to do with the law, in spite of having a father who was a solicitor in Liverpool, so she went up to St. Andrews University to read history. Having obtained her degree, she changed her mind about law and decided to become a barrister. But having spent six years arguing in court, often about landlord and tenant cases, she felt that being a solicitor would be more varied and lucrative, so she set about studying once again and was admitted in 1980.
She then worked mostly in small legal firms where she gained a wide range of experience, mainly in litigation work. In 1991 she joined the Legal Aid Board where her job was to grant or refuse legal aid. She found this work rewarding because it covered a wide range of legal problems, many very complex, and gave a unique insight into the different types of solicitors with widely varying standards of competence. She also clerked the Board’s Appeals Committee to which people appeal if legal aid is refused.
Philippa serves FPRA by providing the Legal Jottings for the Newsletter, a task she has diligently undertaken for several years. She answers members’ queries and is one of the most experienced committee members dealing with landlord/tenant problems.
Her non-legal interests include horse-riding and sailing, art, theatre and the history of London.