Judgement Day?

We have heard from our friends in the Unhappy Homeowners Against Greenbelt Group that there are two recent cases where judges at the small claims courts have been convinced by the evidence of lack of service.

They directed Greenbelt to a higher court mainly because they have understood the full picture including the fact that other home owners would then have to pay more (unless they took action to have their charges reduced).

Congratulation to the Greenbelt victims who have shown dogged persistence in successfully opposing unreasonable charges.

What does it mean for everyone else? It is a huge step away from the small claims courts being used to force payment of unreasonable or disputed charges. To defend yourself you must have good evidence.  We understand that covenants with Greenbelt do not include a rent charge, so those home owners who are subject to this beware of the right of re-entry. This disproportionate remedy is still on the statute books and means that you can have your freehold taken from you if you don’t pay up. We are fighting to have this law amended.

If it is not so easy to bully people into paying unreasonable and unjustified estate charges, the management companies will have to start to justify the costs they rack up.

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FaceBook Roundup

We now have over 3000 members!

Issues reported and discussed by members over the last month include:

  • Several prospective new build purchaser have walked away when they found out about unregulated estate maintenance charges.
  • One member reports difficulties after the builder owned management company went bust. A Carillionesque sign of things to come? Certainly a long term risk for this form of privatisation of public open spaces.
  • More and more examples are being reported of home owners being unable to find out exactly what they are paying for. Management companies simply ignore or refuse to answer requests for detailed a breakdown of costs incurred.
  • We have heard of several instances of huge obstacles being put in the way of residents who wish to manage the company themselves, even when their legal documents say they can!
  • HorNets are still working away on their MPs, highlighting the unfairness of the private estate model, and the complete lack of any effective regulatory mechanism to prevent the large and unjustified increase in charges which many face in addition to rises in council tax.
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Call To Action!

Every vote counts! Please sign this petition and get all your friends, family and neighbours to help. We know there are probably about 1 million households on private estates – so we could easily reach the target of 100,000 signatures. This important petition is asking the government to tackle the fundamental unfairness of estate dwellers funding the maintenance of public open spaces, which should be publicly owned and maintained.

link to petetion

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Private Tax Collecting?

First page imageThis thoughtful paper written for HorNet by one of its members gives new insights into the role of councils in choosing the private estate model, and more importantly, suggests other ways in which councils can fund the public open spaces we are so unfairly paying for.

This is a revised paper. The original suggested that councils had flexibility over raising funding for estate maintenance under the Localism Act, but unfortunately this is not the case. They could however use council tax to raise funds.

 

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New Housing Minister

From January 2018 we have a new housing minister, Dominic Raab. If you wish to write to him or copy him in to letters to your MP, his email is Dominic.Raab@communities.gsi.gov.uk .

These frequent changes of minister will not help campaigns for land and property reform, there must be a huge learning curve for each new incumbent. A good excuse for government inaction?

Let’s write to him anyway and highlight the problems we are having on private estates with monopoly providers.

On Friday 19th January 2018 we wrote this email on behalf of HorNet:
Continue reading “New Housing Minister”

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Happy New Year!

We predict it will be a good one for HorNet. Our group has grown in strength and depth. We now have 2500 FaceBook members, 200 on our mailing list and 227 estates representing over 42,000 households in our database.

We plan to conduct a wide ranging survey covering different groups of home owners to establish what the problems are for each group, and what they feel would be acceptable solutions. The results will be used to inform the direction of our campaign and support our arguments with data.

It will take a little time to set up properly, so please bear with us….

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2017 – A Great Year!

It has been a great year for HorNet. Our membership has more than doubled to around 2500 and we are sharing and collating information with each other, and importantly the public, media and MPs.

Starting from a point where no one seemed to have heard of our plight, we ended the year with a well informed mention in a parliamentary debate on leasehold abuse from Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside (read it here). Whilst this debate quite rightly was focused on the abuse of leasehold houses. We know that the perils of the private estate are becoming more obvious as leaseholders on new build estates try to buy their so called freehold, only to find they are out of the frying pan into the fire. One of these folks has coined the very apt term of “fleecehold”.

In the media, we have had three items broadcast by R4 You and Yours and in addition to members’ items in the local press, the issue has been picked up by the Times and the Guardian. We expect there will be more.

We have been working closely with the National Leasehold Campaign, who have done a wonderful job in highlighting the onerous clauses attached to new build leasehold houses, and will continue to campaign, with our support, for the introduction of common hold and the abolition of leasehold tenure. The next big step will be the abolition of private estates!

On the political front, individual members have been engaging their MPs and as an organisation, we have submitted responses to two government consultations. We continue to lobby ministers and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Common Hold Reform.

A huge thank you to everyone who has taken action of any sort – keep it up – we are getting there!

None of this would have happened without the effort and commitment of you, our members.

Moving in to 2018…..

Numbers matter, so get your neighbours to join, engage with other local new build estates, help with our coordinated email campaigns and if you haven’t already done so, please submit your estate details.

Government is slow to act, a change in the law could be forced by a legal challenge – 2018 will be a good year to make this happen with your support.

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Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays!

Wishing all HorNets seasons greetings. Have a great break, whether it is long or short and return refreshed for a successful 2018…

You may not realise it, but great strides have been made by members who have spent time and effort lobbying for change.  We have had articles in the national press and at last politicians are starting to get their heads round what is going on, although it will take more work from us before they have the full picture.  This has only been possible through both individual effort AND mutual support  – we are growing in strength and numbers.

We plan to publish a full round up of the year so that everyone can see where we are and what we have achieved together.

 

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Important Debate on 21st December

Sir Peter Bottomley, co chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Common Hold Reform is introducing a debate in Westminster Hall on Thursday 21st December. 1.30pm.

It begins “This house has considered leasehold and common hold reform and leasehold abuses”.

We all know only too well that most estate charges are too high for what is being delivered, with monopoly management companies enforcing payment via one sided vaguely written deeds/lease agreements.

Now is a great time to urge your MP to attend this debate and add to the already long list of abuses in the leasehold sector the private estate with rent charge/service charges.  This is going to become the next new scandal relating to exploitation of home owners by the plc building companies.

HorNet will be writing to Sir Peter, asking him not to leave us out. The whole business model is abusive. We believe this is “son of leasehold” and not only exploits home owners regardless of tenure, but ultimately will lead to slums of the future because the work is not being done to an acceptable standard, with no monitoring being done by councils to ensure section 106 standards are met and no line of accountability to the charge payer either.

 

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