A son trying to sell his deceased mother’s retirement leasehold flat has been told that he will have to pay double the council tax on the empty property.
The flat has fallen foul of Chester’s efforts to penalise owners of empty properties so that they are brought back into use – and increase revenues for the council’s payroll.
The flat, which has been on the market since September 2009, illustrates what a dubious legacy awaits the heirs of retirement leasehold – well recognised now as the absolute worst residential property investment conceivable.
John Bottomley, 59, no relation to the leasehold activist MP Sir Peter Bottomley, faces a doubling of the annual council charges of £647 – after a 25 per cent discount as the property in Handbridge is empty.
The full Chester West and Chester council tax bill is £862 which will rise on properties that have lain empty for more than two years by 50 per cent. This means Bottomley will have to pay £1,293 a year.
“I am not a landlord negligent or otherwise,” Bottomley told on the Chester Chronicle. “I’m just desperate to sell my mother’s home. It has been on the market at a price well below the valuation. I have changed agent twice but the market is dormant, with those who would usually move into retirement flats like this often unable to sell their own homes. I never thought it would take as long as this.”
Councillors will soon vote on the proposal which the council estimates will bring in an extra £1.6 million.
Bottomley owns the property with his sister. “This will see the council tax bill that we have to pay double, plus whatever other increases are decided. It will penalise us hugely for something that is not our fault and, of course, I still have my own council tax to pay.”
Bottomley is not prepared to sell at a rock bottom price as he still has to settle up care fees to Wrexham Borough Council for looking after his mother during her long decline with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Her dementia meant that she never knew this but, unlike others in the home she was trapped in the abyss of self-funding, using all her savings to pay for what was truly excellent care.
“When those funds ran out Wrexham put a charge on her flat so she could continue to be cared for.
“They have been excellent with me: very patient, but they still do want their money and it is a considerable sum. The services and benefits this property receives from Chester council is negligible at best and this new charge is quite simply outrageous.”
£185,000 McCarthy and Stone flat unsold at £100,000
In a separate case brought to the attention of Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation this week, a McCarthy and Stone retirement leasehold flat in Aldershot, in Hampshire, has plummeted in value from £185,000 in January 2008 to less than £100,000 today with still no takers.
Peter Hoare bought only 70 per cent of the flat at Kingsley Court for a total of £129,485. According to solicitor Rosemary Joyce, who is handling the estate, “he was befuddled by the documentation provided and in our opinion did not receive good advice”.
Hoare died in November 2009 having lived there for less than two years. The property has been on the market ever since and has proved unsalable even at the knock down price.
Each month his estate has to pay £430.00 in service charges, collected by Peverel, and there’s a ground rent of £405.00 a year to Fairhold, part of the Tchenguiz empire.
“Fortunately, they have at last found a tenant,” said Joyce. “But until last summer Mr Hoare’s family had been unable to rent out the premises due to the draconian sub-letting fees that existed.
“Mr Hoare’s estate has now been virtually used up (over £200,000.00) the family are at a complete loss over what to do.
“There really ought to be a test case against these fees, and I would be happy to help Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation in any way I can.”