Letter To Housing Minister

In the wake of the CMA Market Study recommending adoption of public areas on new build estates, and the lack of any such measures in the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, we have written to the current Housing Minister to ask what he is going to do about it.

It is an open letter which has also been sent to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, and to the Shadow Housing Minister. It is a cross party issue and we are also aware there will be a general election this year, so we need to know where the major parties stand first.


A Bad Time to Buy a New Build

We advise potential buyers to avoid new build homes until there is more certainty on universal adoption.

Although new builds have had drawbacks over build quality and after sales service for many years. It has not always been easy for snags to get fixed and some very major defects are discovered, the real issue right now is estate (maintenance) charges. The full implications and liability of the model has been quite successfully obscured by developers which meant they could continue to sell. The cat is out of the bag now!

To clarify, these are charges for unadopted areas of the estates surrounding the homes and creating public open spaces as well as providing for utilities and other amenities like play parks. Roads and footpaths may or may not be put up for adoption by the authorities. The public can use these areas but only the residents foot the bill.

The Competition and Markets Authority have recently (Feb 2024) concluded a study into housebuilding and their conclusions in summary about estate charges are:

Approx 80% new builds are subject to estate charges in 2023/24

1.5 million homes affected – this must be an estimate as there are no official stats – we would say more!

Residents are significantly disadvantaged (CMA speak for ripped off!)

Most buyers were not fully informed of their liability. (Misrepresentation – although they do not take this further)

Lack of adoption is the underlying issue – they do go into great depth trying to understand why and recommend national adoption standards to facilitate the process. They concede commercial factors are paramount. They talk of government policies maybe should not rely on speculative private housebuilders for delivery of all new residential building.

They recommend to government(s) :

For existing estates, better regulation and redress over management, but do point out this will not fully address the power imbalance. We would say this does not even touch the sides of the issues of unfairness, community divisiveness, loss of value of the homes or improve the quality of the built environment.

They recommend to government that adoption become mandatory within a framework of national standards. Good for the future, if implemented.

This is all fine and well, but in the meantime, homes with charges are still up for sale. It is a terrible time to buy into this model as we feel that there is a very real risk of established privately managed estates being stuck with an extremely poor second best in terms of self management/better regulation. This will create a two tier system and there is no doubt that homes unencumbered with estate charges will be worth more in the future.

We advise potential buyers to avoid new build homes until there is more certainty on universal adoption.

And we will continue our campaign for a fair outcome for all – STOP THE ROT ADOPT THE LOT!!!


CMA Recommends Adoption

The CMA have produced their year long study on the housebuilding market, one part of which relates to privately managed estates. They acknowledge what we have been saying all along that we are being fleeced and recommend to government adoption as the default going forward. They also suggest that government considers adoption for existing privately managed estates and this point is what we need to hammer home in our lobbying.

You can read their full output (and there is a lot of it!) on their housebuilding page.

Below are some relevant sections from the summary document:

Their summary findings:

Finally, we have identified significant consumer detriment arising from the private

management of public amenities on housing estates. We conclude that, as a result

of the proliferation of this model, households face detriment in the form of:

● the charges they pay,

● the quality of amenities available to them,

● the quality of management services they receive,

● the potential for disproportionate sanctions to be applied for outstanding

charges, and

● the significant efforts that households sometimes have to make to achieve a

satisfactory outcome.

We consider that if the status quo is maintained, aggregate detriment is likely to

worsen over time.

We have also observed a growing trend towards private management of public

amenities on housing estates. These arrangements often come with inadequate

protections for consumers and create significant detriment for households over an

extended period. These raise a number of concerns from the perspective of


(a) Homebuyers may be poorly informed about important details about those

arrangements and their long-term implications.

(b) Unadopted amenities may not be constructed to an acceptable quality or may

not be maintained to a satisfactory standard by the management company.

Homebuyers attempting to resolve issues may face poor levels of customer

service. It may also be unclear who is responsible for maintenance.

(c) It is often very difficult for households to switch management companies and,

in some cases, there appears to be no feasible way for them to do this.

(d) Bills can be large, with a high proportion relating to administration or

management fees, and future bills unpredictable and potentially very high as

amenities degrade over time.

51. The root cause of detriment for such households is the reduction in levels of

adoption, meaning that households end up paying for amenities which are used

by the public. This has resulted in a proliferation of private management

arrangements in which estate management companies may possess significant

market power and face limited competitive constraints to deliver services at a

reasonable price or to an acceptable level of quality.

We are making recommendations to governments in those areas where

we see opportunities to improve market outcomes within the current broad

market framework and which do not involve significant trade-offs with other

policy objectives which are outside the scope of the CMA’s study and which

would involve wider political choices, specifically:

(i) The private management of public amenities on housing estates. We

have observed a growing trend towards the private management model

and that these arrangements often come with inadequate protection

and create significant detriment for consumers. Our recommendations

to the UK, Scottish, and Welsh governments are aimed at preventing

the proliferation of private management arrangements on new housing

estates and providing greater protection to households living under

private management arrangements. We also invite these governments

to consider options to support the adoption of public amenities on

estates currently under private management arrangements;

These are just selected paragraphs fro m our initial reading – watch this space for more to come!!



We were invited to give evidence to the commons committee stage of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill on 16th January 2024. We shared the time slot with leasehold campaigners but feel we got our major message across: STOP THE ROT ADOPT THE LOT!

This is the first time there has been any real acknowledgement that regulation alone isn’t the answer. We made the point that there is a risk of legitimising a model which should be scrapped for estates which are not truly private gated communities.

The bottom line is that we were able to introduce the underlying problem of lack of adoption and describe the effects of the current system on unsuspecting home buyers.

Halima vividly described the effect of estate charges and lack of adoption in her case.

It appears that this time they listened and heard. In a later session Richard Fuller MP grilled CMA representatives and gave them “homework”. He asked for them to write to the committee ahead of their Market Study report with ideas about how the Bill could include measures for more adoption.

There is some uncertainty about this Bill being the vehicle for more adoption – it may need legislation of it’s own, but we feel that the acknowledgement of the lack of adoption as the problem to be tackled is a big move forward. We hope the next big step will come from the CMA’s Market Study at the end of February.

If you prefer to read the transcript you can do so here.


Political Manoeuvrings

Thanks to all who have written to the Competition and Markets Authority in response to their working paper – we gave it our best shot.

Below is a link to our email on behalf of the group – you may think the language is quite moderate, but the Competition and Markets Authority have worked hard, listened, investigated and they got it. They have correctly identified that lack of adoption is the underlying problem on publicly accessible estates.

We had thought it would be a matter now of waiting for their recommendations in February, but lo and behold, the government has, after 4 years, suddenly found parliamentary time to introduce its Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill! It feels like a race to get something on the statute book now regardless of whether the act will deliver anything like the changes needed for either leasehold or estate charges to ensure fairness to home/lease buyers. In our view both should be abolished, not polished.

For us, the fundamental mistake (??) government makes is to look to ensure parity between leaseholders and estate charge payers. A dodge which means we will be treated like leaseholders – big deal! Actually it’s a smack in the eye, as it legitimises a model which should be scrapped. We seek parity with other home buyers, not leaseholders who are an even more disadvantaged group than us.

We do not want or need estate charges on developments open to the public. They may be appropriate on gated private estates, but this is not the case for us.

If the government think they can catch any votes with this bill they have another think coming. Like so many government actions, it supports big business, not the voting public.

We are working with the NLC to pull together a way forward and will post again soon on this.