Taylor Wimpey’s deal with Adriatic Land to vary doubling ground rents to those linked with RPI are the minimum it could do to prevent being sued.
Extending the deal even to those who have bought these leases on resale – ie not directly from Taylor Wimpey – covers that issue as well.
But one hitch spotted by leasehold Joanne Darbyshire, who spoke at the All Party Parliamentary group meeting on Monday, is the Taylor Wimpey offer to cover £750 of leaseholders’ legal fees. [UPDATE: Taylor Wimpey has now confirmed it will pay the £750 legal fee even if leaseholders do not proceed with the offer.]
“If I appoint a solicitor and decide not to go ahead with the Deed of Variation who pays my solicitor?” she asks.
“The initial response I’ve had is that it will be me but I’m waiting for confirmation. If that is the case, it is absolutely disgraceful. I need legal advice to decide if I want to proceed, but if I decide not to I will have to pay the legal fees myself!
“I want the true freehold on my house for the same amount of money I could have bought it for at the point of sale if I had not been mis-sold, less any ground rent paid to date. That is the only way that I will not be disadvantaged as a result of this scandal.”
Solicitor Mari Knowles, who is understood to be representing a significant number of Taylor Wimpey leasehold house owners, today advised existing clients:
“We still plan on appointing Counsel to advise, but there is now some urgency to get this advice sooner rather than later. We are working closely with Counsel to get the advice within the time frames given by Taylor Wimpey.
“We can then properly advise on whether you should consider accepting the offer and the implications of this on the professional negligence claims you are seeking to bring.”
Louise Burns, of Leasehold Solutions, who has given a number of roadshow talks to leasehold home owners in the North West, issued the following advice this morning:
You may already be aware of an offer made by Taylor Wimpey last week to the owners of leasehold houses with onerous ground rent clauses that double every 10 years. Taylor Wimpey has reached an agreement with the freeholder to convert the ground rent terms of such leases to a ground rent linked to the Retail Prices Index (a measure of the rate of inflation), via a Deed of Variation.
We at Leasehold Solutions passionately believe that the only fair resolution to the leasehold house scandal is that those who have purchased a leasehold house should have the absolute ownership of the freehold of their home with no ground rent to pay, nor should they face any unfair fees to obtain licences and permissions.
Unfortunately, the latest details to come from Taylor Wimpey regarding their offer for those with ground rents that double every 10 years does not include this option. Also it is very difficult for us to comment in any meaningful way on the latest update of their offer as there is very little detail included in it.
On the face of it however it does seem that the offer to cancel the 10-year doubling clause and instead move it to one that is linked to RPI from the original start date of the lease is one that would financially benefit those that were caught by the aggressive doubling clause and it would make the cost of purchasing the freehold considerably cheaper if the details of Taylor Wimpey’s offer are correct.
Therefore, our suggestion for now would be to continue to consider the offer Taylor Wimpey has made until we can see some real detail behind it. At that point we will be in a position to advise those considering this offer in a much more meaningful way.
Obviously the aspect of ground rents that double every 10 years is only a small part of the leasehold scandal. The offer from Taylor Wimpey does nothing to address the issues faced by those who have ground rent accelerators that may double every 15 or 25 years or are already linked to RPI. It also does not address the issue affecting many of the onerous clauses (and restrictive covenants?) contained in their leases, which require high fees to be paid to the freeholder for various permissions and licences.
Could we please ask that once you receive any more detail on this offer that you pass these details on to us so we can examine the offer more closely and be in a position to advise you much more comprehensively.
Furthermore, if you are considering pursuing the conveyancing solicitors who advised you when you originally purchased your property, I would ask that you speak to my colleagues at Leasehold Law first before accepting any offers. They can then advise you to ensure that accepting the offer from Taylor Wimpey will not prejudice your case to seek redress against your conveyancing solicitor