July 19, 2024

Heirs of empty retirement leasehold flat now face doubled council taxes … on top of plummeting re-sale value, on-going service charges and an exit fee if it ever does sell

John Bottomley

John Bottomley

A son trying to sell his deceased mother’s retirement leasehold flat has been told that he will have to pay double the council tax on the empty property.

The flat has fallen foul of Chester’s efforts to penalise owners of empty properties so that they are brought back into use – and increase revenues for the council’s payroll.

The flat, which has been on the market since September 2009, illustrates what a dubious legacy awaits the heirs of retirement leasehold – well recognised now as the absolute worst residential property investment conceivable.

John Bottomley, 59, no relation to the leasehold activist MP Sir Peter Bottomley, faces a doubling of the annual council charges of £647 – after a 25 per cent discount as the property in Handbridge is empty.

The full Chester West and Chester council tax bill is £862 which will rise on properties that have lain empty for more than two years by 50 per cent. This means Bottomley will have to pay £1,293 a year.

“I am not a landlord negligent or otherwise,” Bottomley told on the Chester Chronicle. “I’m just desperate to sell my mother’s home. It has been on the market at a price well below the valuation. I have changed agent twice but the market is dormant, with those who would usually move into retirement flats like this often unable to sell their own homes. I never thought it would take as long as this.”

Councillors will soon vote on the proposal which the council estimates will bring in an extra £1.6 million.

Bottomley owns the property with his sister. “This will see the council tax bill that we have to pay double, plus whatever other increases are decided. It will penalise us hugely for something that is not our fault and, of course, I still have my own council tax to pay.”

Bottomley is not prepared to sell at a rock bottom price as he still has to settle up care fees to Wrexham Borough Council for looking after his mother during her long decline with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Her dementia meant that she never knew this but, unlike others in the home she was trapped in the abyss of self-funding, using all her savings to pay for what was truly excellent care.

“When those funds ran out Wrexham put a charge on her flat so she could continue to be cared for.

“They have been excellent with me: very patient, but they still do want their money and it is a considerable sum. The services and benefits this property receives from Chester council is negligible at best and this new charge is quite simply outrageous.”

£185,000 McCarthy and Stone flat unsold at £100,000

Unsellable: Kingsley Court in Aldershot

Unsellable: Kingsley Court in Aldershot

In a separate case brought to the attention of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation this week, a McCarthy and Stone retirement leasehold flat in Aldershot, in Hampshire, has plummeted in value from £185,000 in January 2008 to less than £100,000 today with still no takers.

Peter Hoare bought only 70 per cent of the flat at Kingsley Court for a total of £129,485. According to solicitor Rosemary Joyce, who is handling the estate, “he was befuddled by the documentation provided and in our opinion did not receive good advice”.

Hoare died in November 2009 having lived there for less than two years. The property has been on the market ever since and has proved unsalable even at the knock down price.

Each month his estate has to pay £430.00 in service charges, collected by Peverel, and there’s a ground rent of £405.00 a year to Fairhold, part of the Tchenguiz empire.

“Fortunately, they have at last found a tenant,” said Joyce. “But until last summer Mr Hoare’s family had been unable to rent out the premises due to the draconian sub-letting fees that existed.

“Mr Hoare’s estate has now been virtually used up (over £200,000.00) the family are at a complete loss over what to do.

“There really ought to be a test case against these fees, and I would be happy to help Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation in any way I can.”


  1. Can there be any reason at all for the market in these flats to revive? In time, they will all be bought by rental landlords. There is a market here for a new way of doing retirement property, which does not involve cheating fees. The property world has just been too greedy.

  2. A Reviewer says

    Hi All

    I am tempted to ask whether this crash in retirement home properties has been engineered so that said properties may be acquired at a very low value, which makes letting them out a reasonable financial proposition.

    As the elderly get poorer – due to the cost of care and live longer on state aid, the service provider who collects the state aid will have a hugely profitable business.

    My own statistical research [thanks to zoopla.co.uk – tho i am told that ourproperty.co.uk is better] shows that flats in general are suffering a reduction in price, but for peverel managed estates a further 15 to 20% reduction also applies

    Happy Days

  3. John Bottomley should check what he is being charged for by the care home; as I understand it anyone with dementia has most of the fees paid for by the NHS as nursing care – not social care?

    Leasehold and Peverel have got to go – no doubt about it. This corrupt system that is open to gross exploitation is over and no longer viable.

  4. There must be thousands of heirs of retirement leasehold propertry who have paid the exit fees which the OFT says are wrong. Surely they could be united to bring a test case against them?

  5. The Flat at Kingsley Court , Aldershop has extremely high service charges at 430 pds per month. Can we have a summary of annual expenses to study ?

    The fall in market value of the flat from 185K in Jan 2008 to 100K still unsold at Mar 2013 means great wealth destruction for all the leaseholders invested at that site.

  6. Its really time for leaseholders in every retirement home support each other in setting up RTM company and replaced their Managing Agent . Don’t expect Government to help you . Each block must find its own leaders but it doesn’t cost too much to set up RTM and some blocks have already .succeeded .