This is a time when we might feel we are in the doldrums, with a lack of government action and little prospect of any in the near future.
Such a time is a good opportunity to look at what actually have achieved.
We have gone from a position of public ignorance and government denial to a constant stream of prospective home buyers asking us more about the issues. Many are pulling out if they can, this is great – market forces may change things more effectively than new laws.
We have over 8000 members of our FaceBook group and through this and email we have developed a broad picture of the private estate model as it is being used throughout the UK, read more on the low down here. Our database of affected estates has grown to 690 and counting!
Hornets have taken part in email campaigns to MPs and in government consultations to the extent that it is fair to say government do know the essence of the problem even though nothing has been done to address it. This paper at the house of commons library is a fair summary of where they are in this commons library article.
We also were asked to brief Helen Goodman former MP for Bishop Auckland, on her 10 minute rule bill around estate charges. Sadly this only had it’s first reading before that session of parliament ended due to an early General Election. This means that any future effort will have to start over. We are still working with sympathetic MPs as the government are hiding behind lack of parliamentary time. We all know time can be found if it is their priority, whatever else is going on.
We are still in communication with the Competition and Markets Authority to act on their undertaking to look at fleecehold once their leasehold mis selling enquiry is complete. We argue that for estate charges, it is not just that there has been mi selling, but that the implementation of the model is anti competitive in most cases.
We work closely with the National Leasehold Campaign and over time have come to see that the issues of doubling ground rents, unsafe cladding and unjustifiably high charges are facets of the same underlying problem. The land and property markets are now dominated by large faceless companies, often based offshore and whose primary aim is profit. There is no longer any concept of providing good quality buildings or services since the priority is primarily shareholder value. There are third party interests in peoples homes which we believe are not necessary and do not significantly benefit the home buyer.
We found it fascinating to hear about how student accommodation has contributed to the spread of Covd19 in that population, and then into the community. We learn from the investigative TV program https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-54575788 that students were encouraged back to halls even though teaching turned out to be online. They didn’t need to be there and were treated like prisoners for the most part. Apparently the universities have made deals with developers and undertaken to provide agreed levels of occupancy. If the students weren’t paying rent, it looks like the universities will have a big bill. Students suffer, we all suffer – but the money is still made. This is just an editorial opinion, but doesn’t it all look a familiar pattern?? Different groups of ordinary people needing accommodation being profit farmed. Weak institutions from central government and local authorities to university boards appear unable to see through or stand up to these tactics.
We keep campaigning – it is however important to “know your enemy”.