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The weather was on the housebuilders’ side, but 40 demonstrators protested outside Redrow’s Ledsham Garden Village site on Saturday demanding an end to leasehold houses.
They were joined by local MP Justin Madders, ITV News, BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours consumer programme, some damp children, a number of unhappy looking dogs whose Saturday walk had been interrupted … and Sebastian O’Kelly, of LKP.
The event, which lasted two hours, was organised by Katie Kendrick and Cath Williams of the Facebook group the National Leasehold Campaign, who live locally.
Katie is a far-from-happy customer of Bellway, from whom she bought a leasehold house with ground rents escalating with RPI, while Cath Williams bought her property from Taylor Wimpey.
Armed with megaphone and a variety of witting and professionally produced placards, Katie marshalled the demonstration outside the Redrow sales suite.
Q: “What do we want?”
A: “The freehold!”
Q: “When do we want it?”
Leaflets were handed to passing cars, which sounded their horns in support.
Redrow’s defence of leasehold houses amounts to little more than: we are building leasehold houses in the North West because there are a large number of historic ones and we can get away with it.
ITV News asked Sebastian O’Kelly whether purchasers in the North West were at fault for buying these properties.
“No. Look at this site. Flags are flying. There is a nice marketing suite. A host of professional sales advisors.
“With a quick signing of contracts you will get lawyers and mortgage advisors, and – with many developers, perhaps including Redrow – you can trade-in your blameless and truly valuable freehold house for something far worse: a leasehold alternative.
“Utter rubbish terms such as ‘It’s virtually freehold’ crop up in the sales patter.
“And, worse, buyers report being pushed into these purchases, having to use the developers stooge solicitors in order to complete within a tight timescale supposedly to secure these turkeys, which developers pretend are bargain purchases.
“In short, housebuilders have made this sales process as hurried and as unscrutinised as they possibly can until it resembles an impulse buy at the end of a supermarket queue.
“In fact, what housebuilders are doing is cheating their customers who simply want a home by creating an investment asset – the freehold – at their expense. This is then sold on to investment companies that are so proud of themselves that they almost always hide their ultimate beneficial owners.
“The housebuilders are also having a laugh with us, the taxpayers, in palming off these flawed products which are sold to buyers on the Help To Buy scheme.
“Government, which should feel a fool for having been gulled, could stop that right now.
“No housebuilder should be surprised by these demonstrations. They are long overdue and I am delighted more are now being planned.”
Would-be buyers at Ledsham Garden Village were handed a slip of paper by Redrow with a statement:
“Everyone in the leasehold debate has a right to express their opinions. Along with the rest of the house building industry, we’re currently engaging with Government on leasehold and new build houses, as part of its Housing White Paper, which was issued in early February 2017. That consultation is ongoing and we’re playing an active role in the discussions.
“We sell new houses on a leasehold basis in pockets of the country where it is common-place and not unusual for land to be acquired on leasehold in the first place. The process is talked through with purchasers and customers have access to independently-regulated financial and legal advisers acting in their interests.
“In our leases, any third-party acquirers of freeholds are bound by standard ground rent review clauses, which generally allow a review every 10 years and only in accordance with RPI.”
National leasehold campaigners are a great bunch of people. We will have many more demonstrations popping up everywhere. No developer is off the hook.
I’m looking forward to the next one.
If we can stop people entering the abusive Web of leasehold we are winning!!!
Keep up the good work everyone. We will not go away. !!
Bloody FairPlay to you and everyone who turned up and showed some true British spirit.
Also good to see some of the mainstream media covering the demo.
Goodluck tô everyone on getting this sorted.
Another Redrow leasehold scheme here in Hartford, Cheshire. Over 600 homes being built and still building. I asked to buy freehold but told I couldn’t.
40 protestors?? Nowt on telly.
It will be covered soon by itv tonight.
We have had the Tollpuddle Martyrs, The Chartists, The Luddites, The Framebreakers, etc.
Now we have the Leasehold Reformers and the Ground Rent Rebellion.
Many of the former were hanged or deported to Australia.
The punishment now is to be charged £40000 for a £5000 Freehold.
Things have not changed much.
Let us not forget, what to me was and always will be the greatest and most important campaign ever? i refer to the time when ordinary people many without any qualifications or any idea how to even campaign combined together to fight an intolerable injustice that tore at the very fabric of a decent society. together they took on The Police, Government and sections of the press (particularly The Sun newspaper.. Justice for The 96.
They will never walk alone, neither will our fellow campaigners!
Do you include the campaign to release the Birmingham six?
I think some perspective should be injected into the leasehold debate Michael Epstein .
Cercie, some of the contributors on here have been battling hard for around 7 years to get leasehold reform. It’s been hard work, but thanks to Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation/LKP there is a chink of light.
So just now and again to relieve the monotony or create a bit of humour discussion does veer off the subject.
This all started around 2010 due to the unfair treatment of leaseholders in Retirement complexes. centred on Peverel, now First Port.
Many of those original contributors have now gone, so new contributors are very welcome to comment on all aspects of Leasehold.
I am sure further comments from yourself would be very welcome.
I would have hoped that it would be clearly understood that I was not comparing the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters with the sufferings of leaseholders, but was drawing inspiration for the achievements of the fantastic people who fought to establish the truth against every conceivable obstruction being put in their way.
For the record since I was 8 years old i have been a Liverpool supporter.
Michael I referring to the greatest campaign ever point. That’s all. I just you thought you were kind of exaggerating. All subjective I know. Keep the faith.