Bellway humiliated over lying to BBC about gagging clauses on build defects to BBC
Leasehold APPG chairs demand meeting with sector-nobbled New Homes Quality Board
In the same week the New Housing Quality Board is revealed to be a group of sector stooges, BBC Radio 4 MoneyBox live has revealed how housebuilders cover up build defects with “Non-disclosure Agreements” cooked up by their lawyers.
It can be heard here at 12.05 https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_fourfm
And the influential consumer affairs programme humiliated Bellway Homes, which last week declared that it did not use NDAs. It now emerges that it does silence consumers about the financial details of putting right its errors.
Reporter Dan Whitworth said: “Dozens and dozens of people have messaged us about this issue. The majority of people who get in touch are scared about contacting us.
“They are scared of the threat of leagal action, or the risk of direct consequences from developers.
“The only chance they have of getting their building fixed is through the very developers who build them.”
But the programme did inteview a puchaser prepared to speak out: Chris Wilson, who bought a Bellway home in Chelmsford, Essex, five months ago that had more than 100 build defects.
Bellway would only fix the most serious defects at the property unless Mr Wilson signed an NDA.
“The use of these confidentiality agreements is wrong,” he told the programme. “It is just covering up defective work and hiding things. People are nervous about speaking out about. I was nervous initially. These are just scare tactics, and it should be public knowledge for anyone thinking about buying.”
Bellway had last week told MoneyBox that it did not use non-disclosure agreements at all.
Now it told the programme that Mr Wilson had not been made to sign an NDA, but an agreement not to disclose the financial settlement.
“So it is not a non-disclosure agreement, it is an agreement not to disclose?” said presenter Felicity Hannah.
MoneyBox has been deluged with “desperate stories” from consumers of new build homes.
One said the problems had “destroyed her life”; another had to sign a gagging order otherwise her leaking roof would not be fixed; another waited three years for issues to be fixed.
“That use of delaying tactis as a bullying tactic was a common thread in the emails,” said Mr Whitworth.
The trade body Home Builders Federation told the programme that NDAs “are not widely used” and that “most new home purchasers are happy.
Paula Higgins, of the HomeOwners Alliance, said NDAs were a “terrible practice”.
The three MP chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform – Sir Peter Bottomley, Sir Ed Davey and Just Madders – are seeking a meeting with the New Homes Quality Board.
It is packed with industry sector stooges – such as Taylor Wimpey’s chief operations director Jennie Daly, who addressed the Communities Select Committee over the ground rent scandal here:
Communities Select Committee lifts the lid on the residential freehold racket
The New Homes Quality Board is headed by Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke.
How can a post-Grenfell watchdog made up of Tory supporters and housebuilders be ‘independent’?
A report published by the Bartlett School of Planning earlier this year found that many new housing developments should never have been built due to their shoddy design. This confirmed a crisis of quality in new-build homes.
I am chair of Waterloo Quay Tenants Association, our apartments were built by the Barrett Company. I have spent twenty years having had promises made by the builders initially that were never kept, to in the end the Barrett office in Manchester told me I must communicate with the Chester office. After complaining this office failed to respond, a letter of complaint I had sent more than a month previous, which clearly had been opened, with a note attached saying this company no existed at this address.
Our main problem is a 125 year Service Charge agreement written into our leases with Regent Management Limited Leeds. Major structural problems are ignored and the recent attempt by me, on behalf of tenants in respect of the CCTV camera system which is an important part of the security system written into our lease and is also at the high-cost Regent Management continue to claim from us. The LVT judge found in Regents favour based on untrue evidence submitted by Regent. Regent then claimed £7,000 costs for the half-da hearing and In addition to the escalating service charges without evidence of any other raising costs have added and attempted to collect almost £100,000 as a ‘shortfall in that year 2019, costs. I have requested evidence of the increased costs that created the ‘shortfall without any evidence being offered to our association. We have all just received ‘notations’ in the debit column of revised accounts which are simply added as outstanding in the case of tenants that have refused to pay the company to cover its shortfall.
During the lockdown, they have failed to attend to most of even the simple precautions that they are obliged to prevent the spread of the Pandemic. As there is a large number of absentee owners, (many who may be withholding 100% of the service charge) our chances of obtaining the majority votes, to rid us, of Regent plus the unfit for purpose LVT system means our means of redress is virtually impossible.