By Joanne Darbyshire
To Peter Redfern, Taylor Wimpey CEO
cc Irene Dorner, Taylor Wimpey, chairman
Dear Mr Redfern,
I read with interest your press release of 22/12/21 headed “Agreement of voluntary undertakings with the CMA” in which you are quoted as saying: “Taylor Wimpey has always sought to do the right thing by its customers, shareholders and other stakeholders, and we are pleased that today’s voluntary undertakings will draw this issue to a full close, within our original financial provision.”
An update from Taylor Wimpey On Wednesday 22 December 2021, Taylor Wimpey plc announced that the CMA’s investigation into the historical sale of leasehold properties with doubling ground rent clauses by the company is closed, following the agreement of voluntary undertakings.
I have also perused your website where your update page on the CMA leasehold investigation closure states that “Taylor Wimpey has worked with the CMA constructively throughout their investigation with the desire to fully close the issue for the benefit of our customers and affected leaseholders.”
I take a great deal of personal pride that my years of campaigning against your abhorrent introduction of onerous leases with seemingly no regard for your customers has finally resulted in you being forced by the CMA to do the right thing.
I take huge issue with your quote in the December press release about doing the right thing by your customers. Let’s be very honest here – if you had always sought to do the right thing by your customers, then you would never have started unnecessarily selling houses as leasehold, and would certainly have taken action against doubling leases like mine when we first started our campaign. Instead, you introduced your GRRAS scheme to convert doublers to RPI. You thought that this was what you needed to do to get away with it. I am delighted that you haven’t.
Interestingly, on your website the response to the question “I have an original RPI-linked lease, does this mean RPI is not fit for purpose?” is “Not at all. The use of RPI-linked leases is a nationally recognised and long-established measure and is the most commonly used index for price increases across the leasehold residential sector. The CMA’s investigation did not include original RPI-linked lease types.” I can categorically assure you that RPI leases with the high starting ground rents you decided to use to maximise profits are also not fit for purpose. Ground rents are a charge for no service and I would ask your legal team to check your assertion that RPI leases are “long established”. Whilst RPI may be the most commonly used index for ground rent price increases from the time you and the rest of the developers realised you can generate a second income by creating an asset class on our homes, ground rents were traditionally a peppercorn and didn’t increase at all. Onerous leases with high initial ground rents and RPI rates of increase are a relatively recent and unwelcome phenomenon resulting from your and others greed. If you truly want to do the right thing by your customers you would address these leases too, before you are eventually forced to, particularly where the level of ground rent creates an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
In terms of my own journey to escape the nightmare you created and finally own my home, I finally bought the freehold in December 2021. I paid considerably more than the c.£5,000 your salesperson told me it would be. Over the years I have suffered financially over and over again. If you truly want to do the right thing by me then here is what you will do:
Refund all costs that I have experienced since this started. I have had out of pocket expenses of £980 relating to legal and valuation costs.
Refund the 11 years of ground rent that I paid (£3,350 – 10 years at £295 and 1 at £400)
Refund the difference between what I paid for my freehold and the £5,900 figure you quote on your website that you are selling the doublers for where you are still the freeholder (£2,562)
Compensation for the hours and hours away from my family to campaign for justice and the untold stress and worry that this whole sorry saga has caused me
It is clear that after agreeing undertakings with the CMA you consider the matter closed. I can assure you that, until you put me back in the position that I would have been in financially had your salesperson not deliberately withheld information that was critical to my decision making, I do not. Had I been properly informed at the point of sale I would have bought the freehold from you at that point for £5,900. Thus, to do the right thing by me, you will recompense me as detailed above. I will then, too, be pleased to “draw this issue to a full close”. I am sure that this can be accommodated within your original financial provision.
Yours in anticipation of you “doing the right thing” (eventually),