Joanne Darbyshire, owner of a Taylor Wimpey leasehold house in Bolton, tells MPs at the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform how Taylor Wimpey sold her £6,000 freehold to Adriatic Land, which wants £54,000
… Oh, and she would have to pay £108 just to get this preposterous quote
In November 2010 we bought a five-bedroom leasehold house from Taylor Wimpey.
We used the solicitors that Taylor Wimpey recommended because the sales staff said that would make things move quickly and easily.
Unlike some people, we were told that our ground rent was doubling, starting at £295 a year and in 50 years time the ground rent would be £9,440 year.
We were not unduly alarmed because we were told by Taylor Wimpey that we could buy the freehold at some point in the future.
We were told that the cost of buying the freehold would be between £5,000 and £6,000.
Instead – and I wish we hadn’t – we used the money for other things, thinking there was no urgency. At no point did we think that this would be a problem.
But less than two years later, Taylor Wimpey sold the freehold of my house to a company called Adriatic Land 2 (GR2) Limited.
Taylor Wimpey sold it with another 23 houses for £177,000, which works out at £7,375 each.
We weren’t notified that the sale had taken place; we weren’t given the option to buy the freehold at that price.
We first became worried about this when we heard that the sale of one of our neighbours houses had fallen through. The solicitors acting for the purchasers had seen the doubling ground rent in the lease, and had said that it was onerous.
We then decided to do some digging and discovered that even to get a quote to buy the freehold cost £108 charged by Homeground.
Adriatic Land then gave us a quote of £54,000.
This quote cost us £108. It is only one of numerous fees charged by Homeground if you approach Adriatic Land.
If you want to build a small conservatory, the cost was £5,000
So, that fateful day when Taylor Wimpey sold the freehold put tens of thousands pounds on to the cost of the freehold. And in the process, it wiped thousands of pounds off the value of our houses and made them unsellable.
A more accurate cost of buying the freehold now could be anything between £11,000 and £26,000.
That is a considerable rise from the £5,900 charged by Taylor Wimpey to some of our neighbours.
As well as a scandalous bill way in excess of £20,000, there will be legal and valuation costs, both ours and Adriatic Land’s, that we will have to pay.
Taylor Wimpey seems to be saying that this is a conveyancing issue so sue the solicitors.
But these houses were build on Taylor Wimpey owned land. There was no reason to sell the houses leasehold except to create an asset class.
I would like to see leasehold houses outlawed unless there is a damn good reason for them being leasehold.
In the same way that financial institutions have had to respond to the endowment misselling and PPI, developers need to take this just as seriously.
Each case needs to be looked at on an individual basis and redress needs to be provided to those of us who got caught up in this trap.