Electoral Promises

The general election campaign is well underway and HorNets are still working away contacting their local candidates with many positive responses. The issue of private estate charges has always been considered cross party, and so far we have the Labour Party Manifesto promising “We will act to bring the injustice of ‘fleecehold’ private housing estates and unfair maintenance costs to an end.” and George Galloway has made personal contact with the residents of Rochdale via our co-ordinator who is a constituent. This has resulted in his backing of our campaign for the ending of “fleecehold”.

We encourage all of our supporters to press their candidates of any party or none to pledge support for the ending of privately managed public spaces on estates in favour of universal adoption.

Keep it up HorNets – great work so far!

Don’t forget you can use our policy briefing to inform your discussion with the candidates.


Dead DLUC???

No response to CMA recommendations for more adoption….

At the end of March we wrote to Lee Rowley, housing minister thus

After parliament was prorogued for the snap election, we received the reply below. It tells us nothing and is written by a civil servant. We have noticed over the years of campaigning this trend of delegating correspondence, so that lobbying groups who don’t have financial clout are not engaged with and are fobbed off with letters like this. Yet another example of government serving “the money” rather than the populace.

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In our letter we asked about the government’s response to the CMA recommendation for more adoption. There is no answer here, but then the government did not respond to the CMA as they should do within 90 days of the recommendation. Like everything else, if the going gets tough, shut up shop and start again. It is little wonder there is no progress in issues that really matter to people.

What now? Lobby parliamentary candidates – we have just published a policy briefing which you can share with candidates when they are canvassing for your vote!! Hope it helps!! Policy Briefing


Write to Your Council

Lots of fleecehold victims are asking for a template to help them put pressure on their council to implement adoption now that the CMA back this approach and Stratford Council have successfully introduced policies to do so.

We suggest you write to Your Local Councillors (Find them On Write to Them), cc Planning Chair, Leader and Opposition Leader plus council CEO. You can either find the rest on your council web site or ask your local councillors to forward a copy if you have that level of trust!!

The wording is below, but please don’t feel you have to stick to it!

Dear Councillors

I live on the [NAME] development, which has unadopted areas managed by a private company making me am a victim of “fleecehold” in your ward.

It is fundamentally unfair that I pay upkeep for public spaces and amenities for all to use and abuse. My estate is not private, just privately managed. The liability for this cost was not fully explained to me when I bought the house and I now find that there is no accountability or transparency over the rapidly escalating charge(s). I feel badly let down by the councils lack of care in allowing this to happen via planning arrangements with the developer.

When I dig deeper, I find that the estate construction is below adoption standard, adding insult to injury in making maintenance more costly for me. In addition, the estate has become run down due to this factor together with lack of proper maintenance. There is no accountability over maintenance standards or quality control mechanisms. Councils have a duty to prevent blight and you collectively have failed in this duty.

In their recent Market Study, the CMA have identified lack of adoption as the underlying cause of detriment for home buyers and have recommended adoption for both future and existing estates. Regulation of managing agents as being implemented by parliament is not enough on its own.

Some councils such as Stratford Upon Avon have already implemented policies which will stop private management via planning agreements. They are ahead of the game, and I would strongly urge you to develop similar policies here. I am sure you will find the same level of support if you were to conduct a consultation in our area. This article explains what they did https://www.stratford.gov.uk/news/press.cfm/current/1/item/138223

Their policies will only help future developments, and if adoption is not universal it will create a two tier system and further disadvantage people like me. It will become harder to sell homes with estate charges and there is no doubt that value will fall even further. I ask you to go a step further and consider how to take over established privately managed estates. Again, this is something the CMA have recommended.

Can you please agree to work towards implementing similar policies in [YOUR AREA] and keep me informed of progress.


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!!!