A homebuyer who put a deposit on a Persimmon leasehold house in November last year has been told that he cannot park his business van on the drive.
The lease restriction is devastating for Jamie Clark, who is seeking to buy a house on Sycamore Drive, a Persimmon site in Wakefield.
Mr Clark uses his van to get to and from his place of work.
In correspondence to Persimmon CEO Jeffrey Fairburn, copied to LKP, Sir Peter Bottomley and housing minister Gavin Barwell, Mr Clark writes:
“I wish to request that this unreasonable restriction be revoked officially, as opposed to being told that the leaseholders are turning a blind eye to this clause at the moment, as other similar vehicles are currently parked on their owners’ drives with no apparent consequence.
“One of your sales people even stated that unless neighbours complained, the restriction was unlikely to be an issue.
“I am particularly concerned by not only this unreasonable restriction, but more so by the late revelation that such a significant restriction even exists, when several costs have already been incurred!”
“… As a first-time buyer this has been a stressful experience to say the least! I was looking forward to buying my first home. I have saved up for several years to get to this point and was assured it would be a relatively trouble-free process once my mortgage was in place and that Persimmon and their “appointed” solicitors would take care of the rest.”
Sebastian O’Kelly of LKP replied to Mr Clark and all those copied into the correspondence:
This is an excellent letter, although I am not optimistic that you will receive a reply from Persimmon’s CEO Jeffrey Fairburn as he is shy (in spite of talking sanctimonious drivel about engaging with stakeholders in the last annual report).
Persimmon has built more leasehold houses than any other housebuilder, in areas of the country where there is not even the excuse – and it is not a persuasive excuse – that there are a lot of historic, industrial era leasehold houses. So you find Persimmon building these dubious products in Essex and Somerset and Cambridgeshire etc.
The housebuilders have decided to build leasehold houses in order to create tenancies for “home-ownership”, often with help from taxpayers in the form of the Help To Buy scheme, and then load the freehold with revenue streams such as ground rents and consent applications.
This creates an investment asset class for murky, anonymous investors, often based offshore, paid for at the expense of the housebuilders’ customers.
You have now discovered that you have put down a deposit on a leasehold house, but will not be able to park your van outside, which is the vehicle of your business.
Of course, a resume of lease terms should have been available before you put down your deposit.
You have been told imprecise, optimistic and utterly unreliable information by the Persimmon sales staff, that your van will be OK so long as no one objects, and you are quite rightly very worried.
What will happen is that when Persimmon sells the freehold to your house in two years’ time, the monetising freeholder will say you are in breach of lease and demand significant payment for consent to park your van outside your house.
Of course, it would be even more lucrative if the freeholder torments you to the point that you refuse to move your van and perhaps withhold service charges and ground rent. Then he would be able to forfeit your lease and take your property.
This happens about 65 times a year, and here is a gentleman aged 73 who lost his £800,000 flat at Plantation Wharf in Battersea over a leasehold dispute where the freeholders lawyers managed to ring up £76,000 of legal fees
It took considerable effort to overturn this blatant injustice, as you can read.
You certainly have grounds to pull out of this leasehold purchase.
We are advising all putative purchasers of leasehold houses to insist on buying the freehold immediately from the housebuilder at a non-game-playing price, or walk away.