The “Sting” in The Tale

Imagine this – once upon a time – you are a fly (or hornet) on the wall at the builders annual bash for awarding themselves 5 star customer service.

Two CEO’s are chatting:

I’m getting a bit worried that we will be found out over leasehold revenue – we may be stopped from selling the freeholds for the best price and have to offer them to the leaseholders for a pittance! What if we can’t double ground rents every 10 years – where is our income stream then?

I see what you mean, we can’t go back to the days of just building quality houses for a reasonable profit, one gets used to a certain standard of living!

Well here’s a plan – call it “son of leasehold” if you like. You know all that nice green space the planners make us create on new estates? Instead of paying a fortune in commuted sums to the council for adoption, let’s keep it. You never know if the rules change in future, we could build more houses or even have the odd fracking mine.

That’s fine, but what about the cost of maintaining it?

 

Oh – we just get the mugs who buy the houses to pay for that!

 

Surely even they will see through it – I don’t understand how you can pull that one off.

 

This is the wheeze – we use an old bit of property law and write it into their deeds so they can’t get out of paying. They won’t find out what they have got into until after they have signed the dotted line and can’t escape. We can tell them the service charge is for all the lovely green space on the estate. We won’t tell them it is our land, we run the management company which is answerable to us alone or that the council expect the land to have public access so the home owners will end up paying for clearing up after them as well. Sales can even hint at them being able to change the company or become members, but of course we won’t be doing that…

Are you sure they won’t twig on?

 

Yes – the contract is in their deeds – they don’t read them, and if they do they don’t understand them.

What about their solicitors?

 

They don’t understand them either, and anyway we will get them to use our approved firms – soo much easier!

What about the planners?

 

They won’t care so long as the land is maintained, and anyway they always do what we recommend. We are the experts..

And the politicians?

 

No problem, they need us to build the houses they have promised to the voters.

What if the home owners ask awkward questions or refuse to pay?

 

We don’t have to answer them, we can just take them to court for non payment. That’s the beauty of it!

Some of the land is too small to be useful to us – what about that?

 

I’ve got a mate with a gardening company who will be happy to buy those and make himself a fortune.

I’m convinced – let’s go for it…

 

And they all lived happily for about 10 years until one day they looked up into the sky and saw a yellow and black cloud – as it got closer they saw a swarm of angry HorNets swooping down on them.


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