By Harry Scoffin
Unregulated “fleecehold” charges are set for an overhaul in Wales, with the Welsh government urging residential freeholders (and leaseholders of houses) on unadopted private estates to respond to its call for evidence by April 30.
To accompany the call for evidence, a report has been published which says that policymakers in Wales want to understand the implications of a perceived shift by developers towards selling “new housing developments that have private arrangements for the maintenance of open spaces and facilities”.
While the report contains no policy recommendations, affected homeowners are invited to put forward possible solutions to the challenges that they are facing, which will be considered when the Welsh government puts together its package of reforms.
“It is intended that the Minister for Housing and Local Government will use this evidence to consider the case for change, and the potential options which may be available to remedy any issues which are identified.”
Welsh policymakers are keen to hear about the configuration of such sites, how they work, and whether the developer has retained maintenance responsibility or appointed a commercial management company.
News of the consultation into controversial fleecehold estate management schemes has been reported by BBC Wales:
Welsh ministers have promised action over fees homeowners are charged for the maintenance of new-build estates. People on estates with communal areas not adopted by local councils have no control over the management charges. Ministers want those affected, as well as developers and local authorities, to share their experiences of the system.
Following repeated calls for change in England, housing minister Christopher Pincher confirmed yesterday that measures will be brought in to empower residential freeholders on private and mixed-tenure estates, including a new statutory right to challenge the reasonableness of fleecehold fees, also know as estate rent charges, and the repeal of Section 121 of the Law of Property Act 1925 “to ensure homeowners are not subjected to unfair possession orders.”
LKP understands that there are still plans to give residential freeholders in England the ability to remove rogue management companies by applying for a court-appointed manager, modelled on Section 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 which is used by leaseholders of flats unhappy with their landlord-controlled managing agent.
There have also been suggestions that residential freeholders in England could be given a no-fault right to manage. The UK government will make its final decision on this after it receives the Law Commission recommendations, confirms a recent Commons Library report on estate charges for freehold houses.
But ministers in Wales are expected to go further in fighting “fleecehold” rip-offs.
The Welsh government has already assembled a taskforce on unadopted roads, which is currently into its second phase of work.