More than 700 emails jammed the mailboxes of house builder chief executives this week as leasehold house owners demanded the freeholds to their homes.
The protest came after Persimmon caved in to a trading standards action in Cardiff last month.
Leasehold house buyers at the St Edeyrn’s Village development in Cardiff claimed Persimmon sales staff had not made it clear enough to buyers that the houses were leasehold rather than freehold.
The house building giant – which is the prime culprit in spreading leasehold houses all over the country – offered leaseholders on the estate the freehold title for free and to reimburse any ground rent paid.
FTSE-100 giant accused of ‘mis-selling dozens of homes on an estate’ in Cardiff Buyers at St Edeyrn’s Village claim they were not told homes were leasehold Persimmon admitted its sales team had not been clear enough Housebuilder Persimmon is under pressure to scrap all of its leasehold contracts after it reached an out-of-court settlement over alleged mis-selling.
In an initiative organised by the National leasehold Campaign leasehold house owners – and some flat owners, too – then deluged the chief executives demanding the same treatment.
The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick was copied in, as were Housing Minister Esther McVey, local MPs, Sebastian O’Kelly, director of LKP, and LKP’s MP patrons Sir Peter Bottomley and Jim Fitzpatrick.
The emails flooded in on Monday morning and were still coming four days later.
The initiative is deeply embarrassing to the house builders, which are announcing this month bumper profits from the taxpayer handouts of Help To Buy.
Yesterday they were criticised again in a Commons debate on the house building industry, called by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden).
Ms McDonagh deplored the low level of house building by plc house builders, and their large land banks.
Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston and deputy chair of the APPG on leasehold reform, raised the issue of Persimmon settling the Cardiff dispute and demanded a full public inquiry into the leasehold scandal.
Conservative right-winger and arch-Brexiteer Mark Francois rounded on Barratt CEO David Thomas earning a pay packet £3 million last year.
Politicians are aghast at the multi-million pound pay packets of the house builder executives, when contrasted with the dud build quality and predatory lease and “fleecehold” management terms dumped on customers.
The UK new-build property market could be set for major reform after Persimmon Homes admitted it did not alert buyers on an estate enough to the fact they did not actually own their houses outright.
Fattest of all the fat cats is Persimmon CEO David Jenkinson, who has trousered well over £40 million from the company’s highly controversial bonus scheme (which granted his sacked predecessor Jeff Fairburn £110 million – although he only accepted personally around £75 million).
Mr Jenkinson was the prime recipient of the emails as Persimmon leasehold house owners demanded the freeholds to their homes.
Email after email claims that they were promised the freeholds by sales staff after two years’ occupancy for a few thousand pounds.
In fact, the freeholds were sold on to ground rent speculators such as the secretive Adriatic Land, part of William Waldorf Astor’s £1.7 billion ground rent investment fund.
Earlier in the week at prime minister’s questions, Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, damned Persimmon for its “shoddily built” homes with “severe damp and crumbling walls”.
“In the eyes of my residents, Persimmon are crooks, cowboys and con artists.”
In July Persimmon featured prominently in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, Britain’s New Build Scandal, where it grovelled: “that on too many occasions in the past we have fallen short. We apologise without reservation to the customers featured in this programme.”
The email dump on house builder CEOs revealed for the first time the scale of the leasehold houses problem, and is analysed here: