Information from HorNet has helped Bishop Auckland MP, Helen Goodman, draft her Ten Minute Rule Bill which was laid before parliament on November 14th 2018. In her speech she covered the major aspects of the estate charges scam most eloquently. You can hear it here in full or shortened version.
HorNet co-ordinators were invited to Westminster to hear the bill being presented and meet with the many cross party MPs who supported it.
At present the government is looking at giving leaseholder type rights over estate charges, including redress via the First-tier Tribunal and Right to Manage giving choice of service provider.
However, this approach totally ignores the “21st century blight” referred to in the bill. Developers are using this model to construct estates of low quality and save themselves hods of cash. The long term liability for this falls on the estate dwellers via costly repairs of defects down the line. Hanging on to the land also gives developers the opportunity to further monetise it in future should planning conditions change and allow for extra houses to be built.
On many larger estates, there are areas of open space which benefit the general public, it is fundamentally unfair that a small section of the community should pay for the upkeep of these spaces.
Regulation and redress are simply not enough. We know from our friends who are leaseholders that it doesn’t work for them, so why should it work for us?
You have to ask yourself why estate residents should have to spend a great deal of time and effort forming and running a Right to Manage association to maintain land belonging to a private company, which may also be used and abused by the wider community who make no contribution.
In its recent report to the government, the Law Commission put forward the idea of enfranchisement for estates. This would mean that estate residents would be able to purchase the freehold of the estate, much as flat owners can do for their block, then owning the shared areas in common. The residents would manage the estate through their own appointed agent directly accountable to them. This would be a definite improvement on the current situation, but still does not address the defects in construction which may be taken on or the unfairness of an estate providing a public amenity.
We believe that the only solution which addresses all of the issues for home owners and the future quality of the estates is compulsory adoption, and will continue to lobby for this.