Inflated “fleecehold” private estate management contracts came under scrutiny yesterday in the Commons yesterday, as exasperated MPs yet again waded-in to our tax-payer subsidised house builders.
The debate was called by Helen Goodman, Labour MP for Bishop Aukland, (above) who described the proliferation of private estate income streams as “a scandal. There has clearly been mis-selling.”
She thanked Cathy Priestley and Halima Ali of the Homeowners Rights Network—HorNet—campaign group
HorNet – NO to fleecehold! | Campaigning for a fair deal for all home owners on privately managed estates
Helen Goodman MP has organised a Westminster Hall debate on estate charges. It is on Tuesday 22nd January at 4.30pm. It is not too late to email your MP to ask if they could support this initiative to put pressure on the housing minister to act and address the problems we are facing.
“If offered the choice between a leasehold property and a freehold property, most prospective homebuyers would opt for freehold. Who would not want the permanent and absolute tenure of their property, with all the freedom and security that promises?
“However, the large property developers—Barratt, Bellway, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey—sell properties that are not free from hold but come with financial obligations and restrictive covenants administered by property management companies such as Greenbelt, Gateway, FirstPort and Trinity Estates, which take ownership of communal spaces once the developer has moved off the site.”
Fury as new home owners hit by unexpected annual bills to cut the grass
Owners of newly-built homes are being stung for unexpected annual fees of hundreds of pounds which they weren’t told about during the sale, MPs have warned. The proud owners of new homes have been shocked to discover they are liable to pay for the maintenance of nearby playgrounds, car parks or grass verges, on top of their council tax.
Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, who has been a leading figure in the leasehold campaign, said:
“What is wrong with just building and selling family homes?
“Why are buyers being subjected to covert efforts to squirrel in extra income? Is the sector so avaricious that it has to squeeze every last penny out of young families who have to scrimp and save just to get on the housing ladder?
“As with ground rent, consent fees and leaseholds, our plc house builders have had £8 billion of help through the Help to Buy scheme.
“They have trousered that assistance to rip off customers in their own schemes. Developers simply cannot be trusted to play fair with their customers, or with us, as wider taxpayers.”
Mr Madders also referenced “reliance on a small group of developers has been a very poor deal for the taxpayer, and was the backdrop against which the leasehold scandal emerged”.
He added: “It cannot be right that the companies that are guilty of the industrial-scale rip-offs that we have heard about regarding both leaseholds and the issue being discussed today are the same ones that we end up relying on to get out of our very real and damaging housing crisis.”
Mark Tami MP also waded into the fleecehold dispute:
Fleecehold Estate Management Contracts -the latest fiddle from Taxpayer-Subsidised House Builders – Has this been Happening for circa – 20 Years?
A Freeholder recently posted on ABOUT FIRSTPORT they had issued Court Proceedings against Firstport and were waiting for Court Directions.
In the mean time they received an aggressive letter from an In-House Solicitor at FirstPort Property Services Ltd.
FirstPort had been informed of the claim some 18 months previously and had ignored every type of correspondence for nearly 2 years. The Freeholder was now aware that receiving an aggressive letter from FirstPorts Solicitor was par for the course. FirstPort has deemed some of the claims being over 6 years are not refundable citing the limitation act 1980. Limitation period under a deed is 12 years and the Freeholder managed to get 12 years of the Estate Management Fee overcharge.
A Freeholder of 18 years living on a 200 home estate split 50/50 Lease & Freehold. FirstPort Property Services Ltd (Lead Legal Consultant) wrote saying:
Despite pointing out clear deficiencies in the claim made, we note your reluctance to enter into any form of settlement negotiations.
Purely on a commercial basis and without admitting any guilt FirstPort were prepared to settle the claim, in full and final settlement, that they paid the full claim covering 12 years of the 18 years of £733.32.
FirstPort also demanded the Freeholder Terminate the Claim in the Courts, by filing a Notice of Discontinuance which basically means they didn’t have a Claim in the first place?
This could be a problem if this Discontinuance Notice is filed because FirstPort could then claim their costs which would be more than the settlement, Be Aware!
When negotiating a settlement (usually at the very last moment) Firstport or their representatives often J.B. Leitch will ask a claimant to sign a Discontinuance Notice “purely for administrative purposes”. As Chas so eloquently wrote, never ever do this under any circumstances.
By doing so, you leave yourself liable to costs, which cannot be challenged.
This is because you will have withdrawn the claim, which is a technical admission that your claim has failed . for any claimed costs the court will only consider who withdrew the claim, not the result.
So if you are asked to sign a Discontinuance Notice you must refuse stating that this matter can be settled without me signing this. It is Firstport that must withdraw their claim, meaning you can now recover your costs.
If no progress is made simply turn up at the court and show the judge that an agreement has been reached save to the signing of the Discontinuance Notice.
A stellar write up as normal Chas! Keep up the good work.
Chris thanks mate – I believe we need to highlight that Managing Agents such as FirstPort Property Services LTD or OM Management Services Ltd have been getting away with charging for items that were not included and:-
Outside the Terms of a Transfer Deed when a Builder such as Barratt Homes Ltd (3018173) completed a Development and where the Local Authority had relinquished the right to the Adoption of the Common Areas. (Taken from HM Land Registry) 1999.
An email I received from the Freeholder went on to say the following:-
It should be a perfect way to send a message on behalf of all Leaseholders highlighting the way a simple Statute of 1705 can be misused by Developers which has caused a variety of subsequent problems. A real concern is Central & Local Governments refusals to accept there are real problems for all Leaseholders, let alone that deception may have been involved.
A new phenomenon based on what Lawyers/Solicitors believe their clients can get away with in a Post Truth Age. The shift in opinion is derived by Landlord Led Wishful Thinking and has become commonplace and accepted by Housing Ministers and others in Authority.
It serves Government Cost-Cutting as well as Developers and Landlords., where the underlying mechanics may have a serious criminal logic fault in how business has been carried out. The Common Practice of relying on the 1705 Statute (s. 142 of the LPA 1925) to transfer a Freehold without the Tenants Consent and the obligations Assigned needs overhauling.
It would be a considerable Public Service if LKP and other similar Websites would lend Moral Support towards bringing a prosecution where repeated deception is recorded, as could be with further postings, relating to the Estate Management of Developments where the four largest companies mentioned in the original posting.
Further to my last posting The Freeholders are subject to the following Clauses in the Transfer Document.
THS SIXTH SCHEDULE (Managers Covenants)
1. To carry out the works and do the acts and things set out in the SEVENTH SCHEDULE as appropriate to each type of Dwelling PROVIDED THAT:
SEVENTH SCHEDULE (Communal Areas and Facilities Costs)
Keeping the gardens and all other soft landscaped areas of the Communal Areas and Facilities generally in a neat and tidy condition
What happens is charges outside an Agreement, can be added which are in no way connected or related in anyway to Soft Landscaped – Parts of any Communal Areas.
Expenses Type Charged, Not Applicable, can be:-
Health & Safety
All the above have been found charged to Freeholders under Estate Management Fees.
Information was extracted from FirstPorts Annual Statement. 2016.
From 2001 – 2005 inclusive – the costs reflected the works required and averaged £350 per year, divided by the 202 Freeholders.
Then in 2006 the costs escalated by c450% to £2,020 – in 2016 had risen to £3,574. The total Over Charged was £25,294.00. The total amount claimed by one Freeholder was £663.32.
If all 202 Freeholders had overpaid then this would amount to £133,990.64 before individual Court Fees of £14,140.00 making the total £148,130.32, from one single development???
Latest information received – further Freeholders are making similar claims, against FirstPort, who continue to, as in 2016, denying any claims made, as happened to my friend the Freeholder mentioned.
Sebastian has my details.
I am a freeholder in the process of a court case on similar grounds. Any support is hugely appreciated.
Mrs C ask admin for contact or check out About Firstport or About Peverel and there Admin will contact me so we can help.
There are thousands of House Holders in the same position as the Estate Management Scams are now being highlighted the process differs as companies who loose the case change their procedures which usually begins with ignoring the first contacts then replies and says they will look into any claim then ignores so another period goes by and this continues for the first year, unless you post different.
Whilst I certainly agree that management companies are ripping people off as they please with estate charges pretty much completely unfettered by current legislation, is the problem not that local authorities are unwilling to adopt communal facilities, even estate roads any more?