July 17, 2019

Downsizing pensioners assailed by ‘fleecehold’ charges, reports Daily Mail

Fleecehold charges have been reported in the Daily Mail:

Retired engineer Walter Wright and his wife Peggy thought they had found the perfect place to downsize,.

The three-bedroom detached home was only a couple of years old and would need less upkeep than their bungalow, which had a very large garden.

When they purchased the £269,000 property in Chudleigh, Devon, in August 2015, the Wrights were told they would have to pay a small ‘estate management’ fee twice a year. 

Retired engineer Walter Wright and his wife Peggy thought they had found the perfect place to downsize.

The three-bedroom detached home was only a couple of years old and would need less upkeep than their bungalow, which had a very large garden.

When they purchased the £269,000 property in Chudleigh, Devon, in August 2015, the Wrights were told they would have to pay a small ‘estate management’ fee twice a year. 

Our downsizing dream was ruined by soaring service charges

Walter Wright and his wife Peggy purchased a £269,000 property in 2015 They were told they had to pay a small ‘estate management’ fee twice a year There is no limit to how high the management company can hike the fees Couple’s fears as properties with rising fees could be difficult to sell on Retired engineer Walter Wright and his wife Peggy thought they had found the perfect place to downsize.

Usually, in the past, when an estate was built, the developer would agree for the local council to manage its roads and public areas, explains Sebastian O’Kelly, of campaign group the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership. In return, the housebuilder would typically fund a project in the local area, such as paying for road improvements.

But developers now fear that asking local councils to take on the cost of managing streets and public spaces might put them off granting planning permission, says Mr O’Kelly.

They have also spied a money-making opportunity, as they can sell on the right to manage the estate to a third party, he adds.

What’s more, while leaseholders have the right to challenge ground rent charges at a tribunal, freeholders have no way of challenging escalating management fees and cannot choose who manages their estate.

Labour MP Clive Betts, chairman of the Housing, Communities and Local Government select committee, says he has received numerous complaints about management fees on new-build estates from constituents in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Comments

  1. Will this be the next Leasehold/Freehold Scandal that could send Leasehold Reform into Overdrive?

    The Local Authorities (LA) now cash strapped could not afford to adopt the estate around new development sites caused by the last ten years austerities. The La instead have sold on the leases for the communal areas, roads, paved areas, grassed areas, trees, fencing even drainage, etc.

    They sell the lease to Estate Managers such as Firstport Property Services Ltd who then charge a Management Fee payable by both Leaseholder and Freeholder to maintain these communal areas

    They are not Regulated, so charges escalate, works are added that are not needed or required, they then can fail to maintain and IS THIS BEGINNING TO SOUND FAMILIER.

  2. Having worked in a Planning Office for over 4 years as a Building Control officer until 2010, where the BC section made a profit they were at one time seen as the only department who made money within the LA. Slowly from 2006 numbers fell by 50% and the Planning Section moved in till we had lost the space for any increase in numbers.
    Usually when an estate were built, the developer would agree for the LA to Adopt and Manage its roads and public areas, but as funding dried up from Central Government so did the adoptions.
    To receive planning permission in return, the housebuilder would typically fund a project in the local area, such as paying for road improvements. Slowly developers feared asking LA to take on these cost of Estate Management and set up Private Companies to maintain, roads, streets and public spaces. The chances of receiving Planning Permission could well be increased if they were not to asking the LA to adopt.

    Every aspect of accepting these communal areas comes at a cost and as the funding was removed by up to 50% the LA decided to transfer the responsibility to Private Companies who paid a price for the contract leaving the LA with less to do. This began the slippery slope using Private Companies i.e. Firstport who from experience failed time and time again to carry out the maintenance as they were poorly managed and were not Regulated.

    What is more leaseholders have the right to challenge Maintenance Charges and Ground Rent increases at a FTT but as is stated Freeholders are not covered by the L&TA and have no way of challenging escalating Management Fees and cannot choose who manages their estate. They can challenge the costs as is now happening where Firstport have been forced to pay back 12 years of fees charged, over £700 to just one Freeholder, but it took 2 years and now help will be provided to others.

    If you have been caught up in these scams then contact Better Retirement Housing or About Peverel/Firstport or LKP.

    Labour MP Clive Betts, Chairman of the Housing, Communities and Local Government select committee, has received numerous complaints about Management Fees on new-build estates from constituents in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

  3. Another scathing comment on Managing Agents
    ‎01/11/2018 From Trustpilot Precis

    Woefully Inadequate –
    This company should not be allowed to trade. We are a development of 71 Freehold Properties with the Entrance Area and Children’s Play Area managed by First Port. We have been systematically billed for work not done and spurious charges added to the account. Development built 1987 – the gardening contract including Public Liability Insurance was £23.00 per household – it is now in excess of £260.00 per household and the work done woefully inadequate.

    There have been 10 Property Managers in 12 years each of whom should visit the site on a 6 week basis – last visit was April 2017. Managers have been made aware of the shortcomings but fail to respond to letters, e-mails or phone messages.

    I walked around the development with one manager over two years ago to ask her to justify the various charges made – one for PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) and asked her what this applied to – she stated the streetlighting – hardly portable – and when pointed out that the local council adopted the road, pavements and streetlighting 30 years ago said she would look into it.

    The same applied to Buildings Insurance – every house is privately owned freehold with its own insurance all we need is Public Liability Insurance for the flower beds and children’s play area. We have been charged for site monitoring – no monitoring in place and Terrorism Insurance – we don’t need Terrorism Insurance for Flower Beds.

    The Children’s Play Area had Swings and Climbing Frame, they fell into disrepair were taken away and never replaced although the maintenance was part of their contract.

    The whole area has now become a Health and Safety Issue with Brambles and Nettles allowed to grow unchecked making much of the area unreachable and the entrance area over grown allowing drug dealing and fly tipping and the only communication from the company is if a resident challenges the lack of maintenance and stops part of their bill are bullied into administration charges and court proceedings, having repeatedly asked for a Senior Manager or Director to visit us, requests are ignored

  4. Once again a question was asked in the Prime Ministers Questions (PMQ) regarding Leasehold Reform.

    Mike Amesbury a Labour Shadow Minister for Weaver Dale , asked the Prime Minister as he had previously asked on the 1st PMQ in 2018 – what more has she done to support the victims of the mis-selling of Leasehold Housing.

    The PM stated that:-
    Leasehold is required to be fair and transparent and their home to feels like their home.
    From July no new government funding will be used to purchase Leasehold Housing.
    Having taken action further will be done when Parliamentary time allows.

    Another waste of time using Fair and Transparent (meaningless words) because if it was Fair and Transparent, we as Leaseholders would not be in this mess we are in.

    From July when? – 2018 or 2019 and no new government funding, what about the funding already provided and what happens to those caught up in the mis-selling, who had used the Help to Buy only now find they have purchased a property they may not be able to sell, which was misused by developers to increase profits.

Skip to toolbar