A freeholder or leaseholder living on a private estate?
Stuck with a service charge you cannot influence?
Being bullied or harassed if you with hold payment for poor service or high charges?
As angry as a hornet?
You ARE one of us, so join our campaign to get a fair deal.
There is a big national increase in new build estates to meet government policy on housing. Most of them are being delivered by a few large construction firms.
In recent years they have increasingly implemented the private estate model where the common and surrounding land the developers own is not adopted by the local council, but either retained by the developer or sold to a land owning management company.
Home owners on these estates find that they are bound by their transfer deeds to pay a service charge to a monopoly which is unaccountable to them. So they are paying for a service which can be delivered how the developers/land company like, when they like, by whom they like and at what cost they like. There is no practical redress under current law as most home owners don’t want the risk and cost of going to court. This document from ARMA explains exactly what it means to be a freeholder on a private estate and how it is different from being a normal leaseholder. If you own a freehold property and find you have to pay a service charge then you have come to the right place.
The situation for leaseholders on new build private estates is even more fraught. Not only do they have to pay inflated ground rents and un-affordable costs if they wish to buy the freehold, but they are bound in the same way as freeholders to pay charges for the private land surrounding their property, and with the same lack of rights over that element of their payments. Leaseholders might wish to also join the National Leasehold Campaign.
Most commonly this situation applies to new build properties, but there have been some cases concerning ex council and ex MOD houses as well.
This site has been set up as a place for home owners affected by this unregulated market to support each other and campaign for a change in the law.
What we want for all new build estates:
- Those with public open space to be constructed to adoption standards, inspected and adopted by the Local Authority compulsorily.
- Those smaller developments which have no public open space to be constructed to adoption standards, independently inspected, and conveyed to the residents under common hold with a proper regulatory framework.
- A ban on estate residents having to fund the maintenance of adjacent existing green space in perpetuity as part of planning agreements. If developers wish to “donate” these services instead of providing green open space on their site, then they should pay the local authority a commuted sum for maintenance.
- Abolition of estate rent charges for residential property – retained for commercial property if necessary.
What to do about Existing Sub- standard estates?
Whilst we DO want to drive up estate quality and give future home owners a fair deal with true freehold, we DO NOT want a whole (very large) group of residents on existing estates being left on run down, expensively maintained estates with devalued properties. Whatever is done, must address the plight of current estate residents who are caught unwittingly in this trap.
The Law Commission is recommending Government look at enfranchisement (that is residents having the right to purchase the freehold of the estate and run it themselves), and whilst this sounds better than the existing arrangements, there are serious snags. The sub-standard construction leading to “un-remedied liabilities” being the biggest obstacle. We would also argue that most people want to enjoy their homes in peace and not have further, possibly onerous, responsibilities placed upon them and the risk of falling out over costs.
So we say it could be a two stage process. Enact enfranchisement, with peppercorn cost for the land and indemnities against defects. Require Local Authorities to adopt these estates at no cost to residents if they as the new land owner ask for the estate to be adopted. Local Authorities can adopt sub-standard now, but are unlikely to do so unless compelled. If this seems unfair on Local Authorities, then do remember that they agreed to the current arrangements with the developers.
Please help us to help you and take a look at what you can do on our “Take Action!” page.