This is a selection of partially anonymised quotes from our closed FaceBook group. It gives a range of views and experiences from across the UK. We have many members who could provide case studies for news articles:
On our estate, we maintain the areas but the Council set up an S106 to give the public access – grass areas and woodland. Therefore we pay to clear their litter and damage. I feel they have been hand-in-glove with developers, taking a “bribe” of cash injections for playgrounds etc. and facilitating this scam to make freehold home owners pay to maintain.
Our freehold property has management company, transferred into ownership of residents. Still loads of problems, we have ended up with one Director with overall control who is a dictator. No meetings, won’t answer door or give us phone number . Emails ignored. We now have a poorly managed estate which and this has already lost me a sale through his rudeness and lack of cooperation We are still being hit with fines and charges, all sent by email with no consultation. We are working to get controlling Director removed but what a hassle it’s proving to be. There needs to be more rules in law to make sure these management companies are more regulated and democratic
DC, Burton Latimer
I own a freehold house but apparently I have just found out, the management company can stop me from selling it if I and the buyer don’t pay them a fee for doing so. Outrageous. We are in the same situation as the leaseholds paying for public spaces and extortionate management fees for doing nothing plus council tax for unadopted road.
So at point of sale last year I signed my reservation agreement which stated my estate management fees would be £100 – I have a bill from Gateway – ( Persimmon) – for £308.00!
I have been looking through the contract today for the new build, it is being sold as “Freehold”. One of the covenants states that the annual site maintenance charge increases annually in line with RPI. I have no issue with that really.
My concern is, it also states that every 5th year it can be increased outside of RPI. With my very limited knowledge in these matters, I guess it means they can charge what they want every 5th year (and of course an increase on that amount in line with RPI in subsequent years).
My husband and I have recently started looking at new developments around Aylesbury, Bucks. At first we were very excited to think we might be able to purchase a new home. However, we now feel disappointed and concerned. All of the new developments are telling us that until the council adopt roads, street lighting, land maintenance etc., they will be levying what they call Estate Charges to cover what the council will not, even on Freehold properties!
I pay a monthly £10.66 fee to Greenbelt for (so called) management of open spaces within the development. However today I have received a letter stating that following a recent inspection ‘tree works with rhoddendron control’ at the cost of £18.24 will be added to my next bill – can they just bill people like that? I don’t think I’ve seen a rhododendron locally?
We are planning to challenge our local Council, because residents pay for their open spaces management which are also popular with the general public for running, cycling, walking and dog walking. If the path surfaces deteriorate because of excessive use by non residents, and equipment in the children’s play area is broken by non-residents, we residents will have to pay for the repairs. We are working on a protest where we instal spoof ‘Private Property, residents only’ signs at the entrances to our estate – declaring our shared open spaces as a private estate. It will be interesting to see how the Council respond.
We successfully negotiated getting the freehold included in the asking price (originally sold as leasehold) for a 4 bedroom detached house from Wainhomes. As I said we were not interested in buying a leasehold. We are due to exchange contracts on Monday. However we have since got a copy of the TP1/title deeds with all the restrictive covenants on and I’m convinced it is essentially a leasehold contract (with the ground rent paid up front). Permissions and fees are required for pretty much everything!
Also we have an estate management charge for maintenance of the public areas (which I don’t have a problem with in theory) however the contract states it can increase 5% per year. It is currently £160 per year so in 200 years it would be over £2.6 million per year! Even taking into account RPI and inflation that seems like too much? Obviously this wouldn’t effect me but I am worried it could affect the resale or value of the house.
Had several new builds before without issue, but now downsized to a little 2 bed on a new estate of up to 5 bed detached. Freehold, but with public open space maintenance deeded out to Meadfleet who after 5 years, are now billing. Unlike council tax bands, all properties pay the same.
Some developers have allowed freehold residents to become management company members and subsequently directors thus having some influence. On the rare occasions this has happened, it does not really work well for them. The real problem is the line of accountability. The management companies are accountable to the rent charge owner (usually the land owner) for collecting the money and not to the home owners who pay.
We manage our own estate although it is very small. The only advice I would give you is DO NOT take it on unless you have experience in business and lots of free time. There is a lot more to it than you think and trust me you will be chasing owners for money. Our charge is £4 a week for far more than grass cutting, street lights, drainage site maintenance etc., and at least 25% do not pay
I’m in the process of buying a freehold property in Milton Keynes, however there is a small (£138.00pa) maintenance charge levied for the upkeep of communal area’s and a children’s play area. I was told by the estate agents that this charge was in place until the Council adopted the road. I called the local planning office who confirmed that they intended to adopt within the next 12 months and so I thought everything was okay.
This week my solicitor has informed me that the service charges will continue after the council adopt the road; what on earth for?!? Why isn’t the council maintaining the area if it is a public right of way??
Looking at the breakdown of the management charges it appears that almost exactly 50% of it is for ‘management fee’s. The rest is mainly public liability insurance for the play area and then tiny amounts for path maintenance, weeding, pest control etc (less than £5.00). I looked the company up online and one of the directors is listed as director of 50 other property management companies!!?
I’m seriously thinking about pulling out of the sale but need advice first.