May 22, 2024

Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation Westminster roundtable on retirement housing

Bob Bessell: there is an alternative to the freeholder making all decisions in retirement housing

Bob Bessell: there is an alternative to the freeholder making all decisions in retirement housing

On April 28 there will be a Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation roundtable on retirement housing at Westminster.

The purpose is inform MPs of the issues in retirement housing, and to suggest how it could be further improved.

There have already been shifts in position by retirement housebuilders: 999 year leases are becoming more widespread, and some retirement providers are giving residents a (minority) stake in the management company.

There are also interesting new entrants to the sector, either from abroad or from the care providers. Both mark a change with the standard offering from volume housebuilders.

MPs and other key stakeholders will hear from two guest speakers at the roundtable.

Bob Bessell, founder of housebuilder Retirement Security, which has built 1,600 retirement flats across the country, will explain why he believes that leaseholders must control the sites where they live.

All his sites have been established with residents’ management companies in the leases. This means the people with the biggest financial stake in a site make the decisions concerning its management.

WoodchesterValley1Bob brings many years experience to this sector, where he has been a forceful and often dissident voice.

The other guest speaker is Professor Peter Wilson, who with his neighbours raised £2 million to buy out their retirement village after the developer went bust before it was completed.

The result is that Woodchester Valley Village, outside Stroud, is the first mutually owned retirement village in the country.

It can be run entirely by and for the benefit of the residents without all the habitual trappings of leasehold ownership: high ground rents; short leases; predatory service charges; handing maintenance contracts to related companies; monopoly estate agency; freehold owned offshore in a tax haven and all the rest.

We thank both Bob and Professor Wilson for taking part.



  1. The Times Newspaper issue Weds 20 April 2016 carried a report on McCarthy & Stone’s trading report for 6 months to end of February.
    The pretax profits would have been £39 Mil but after deducting £9 Mil IPO costs , it was reporting £29 Mil for the period. The company completed 923 properties, so was making roughly £40K profit for each property.
    The Bournemouth based company reported average selling price had increased by 12% from £226K to £253K last year.
    Clive Fenton, CEO has said the Government should relieve older people of stamp duty costs to increase the supply in the Housing Market. He thought giving stamp duty relief to buyers looking to downsize will free up existing houses for first time buyers or family buyers.
    Nick Maddock, CFO said the housing market is supply-constrained, not demand constrained . He disclosed only 1% of people over 60 lived in retirement communities compared to 17% in USA an 13 % in Australia and New Zealand.
    But nothing was said about the problems caused by transfers of property under 99 years leasehold title and loss to family wealth caused by low resale value of retirement homes with high service charges and high annual ground rent. etc.


  2. I recently enquired about McCarthy & Stone built flats in Church Stretton, where 3 similar flats were on the market 3 weeks ago, for less than 75,000 thousand pounds.

    Within a week these flats are now on sale for 109,000 thousand pounds this being a 31% increase in such a short period.

    Who or what is able to make this change if not the company who built them linked to Peverel/Firstport and Fairhold, is this happening in other areas?