Council Joins Fleecehold Exploits

South Somerset District Council has recently launched its own private company, Elleston, to provide maintenance services on privately owned estates. They justify this on the grounds of better quality and value for money together with an income for the council in terms of a projected £2.2M over two years. Talk about adding insult to injury for home owners! Councils aid the creation of privately owned estates during planning – they definitely could do more to discourage developers from implementing it, and they refuse to countenance compensating the estate dwellers for their total funding of the maintenance of designated public open space. No wonder residents are hopping mad!

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Fun Video!

But with a serious message about the fundamental unfairness of estate charges on new housing estates. These areas should be adopted by the council, but developers will not volunteer for this when it saves them so much money in construction costs and provides a nice little earner for their friends in property management.

We love that the film makers are also highlighting the arbitrary nature of who pays and who doesn’t AND the fact that estate charges affect leasehold as well as “freehold” properties. Thanks to Chris and Paul for sharing. Enjoy!!!


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The Cat is Out of the Bag!

cat with megaphone in sack
Nasty effects of rent charge discovered by mortgage lenders.

Many of us who are unwittingly trapped in the private estate model have observed what amounts to a conspiracy of silence over the true risks of the rent charge. It involves the developers, councils and property industry as a whole, but also those very many homebuyers who hope that by keeping quiet, the problem will just disappear! HorNet have taken some flak for daring to talk about it, but at the end of the day it is the mortgage lenders concerned to protect their investment who are exposing the secret.

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Roller Coaster Week!

This last week or so has been a bumpy ride for HorNets, but things are looking hopeful again, thanks to Helen Goodman MP, who never misses an opportunity to push for change. In addition the fact that newly appointed Secretary of State responsible for housing, Robert Jenrick, has previously spoken on behalf of his constituents trapped in fleecehold indicating he is sympathetic and has a good understanding of the issues. This makes us more hopeful that there will be some action to help us.

Helen lost no time in writing to the new Minister and also had recently asked his predecessor in the house to support our requests for the CMA to include fleecehold mis-selling in its enquiries. Quote: “Hundreds of my constituents have written to me similarly feeling that they have been mis-sold their freehold, so I have written to the Competition and Markets Authority asking it to extend its inquiry to cover freehold, where people have to pay excessive and ever-escalating management and service fees. Will the Secretary of State support me in this?” Read the full debate here and Helen’s letter to Robert Jenrick appears below:

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MPs Debate and Fleecehold

MPs in parliament

On Thursday 11th July MPs from both sides of the house urged the government to act on the recommendations of the select committee on Leasehold reform. In spite of its title this committee did also consider fleecehold and it is clear from what MPs are saying that there is very much greater awareness of the exploitative nature of this model too. These quotes are taken from the debate as published by They Work for You, where you can read the full debate.

Well done Hornets – all your MP briefings are paying off!

Quotes from the Debate:

Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown , Cotswolds:

I have constituents in the Gallery who have had equal and similar problems with scams relating to freeholds. Freeholders buy their properties with a covenant—many covenants in some cases—that contain unquantified and unspecified obligations relating particularly to the common parts of their estate. When pressed, the smart salespeople in the smart furnished flat or house on the estate often say, “Well, it’s only a small amount. It will amount to a few hundred pounds.” However, when the buyer gets their first bill, they suddenly realise what they are locked into. In some cases, the charges are so high, as they can be with leaseholds, that the properties are effectively made unsaleable.

I pay great tribute to Amanda Davies from Burton Chase and Mike South in Victory Fields for bringing some of these anomalies to me. Like the hon. Member for Sheffield South East, I have written to the Competition and Markets Authority with a draft of how my constituents think the current system is being mis-sold. I hope that the CMA will take close notice of that.

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