Will Astor, who manages the £1.2 billion Long Harbour fund in residential freeholds, should come to Ellesmere Port in Cheshire to meet the owners of leasehold houses, according to local Labour MP Justin Madders.
Mr Madders issued the invitation at the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform on April 19.
Many of the leasehold houses in the North West are owned by Adriatic Land, which hides its beneficial ownership behind nominee directors.
But these are managed by Will Astor’s Homeground company, which gathers ground rents and numerous consent fees: for building alterations, conservatories, subletting, commercial vehicle on the drive etc.
Leasehold house owners have to pay a preposterous £108 fee even to learn how much the freeholder wants for the freehold – only to be told a ridiculous and inflated price.
“We know that will Astor is involved in this in some way. I would very much like him to come to Ellesmere Port and come and speak to some of the people whose property he owns and explain what his interest is in them.
“If he sees the look on people’s faces and the despair that they have knowing that they are beholden to someone else in terms of their futures, he might begin to realise that this is not just a figure on a spreadsheet.
It is people’s lives that are being messed with.
“We need to think again about this business practice because it is not what I consider to be morally correct.”
Mr Madders added:
“We have got a pretty clear statement from the current prime minister that there is no good reason for detached or semi-detached dwellings to be sold on a leasehold basis.
“Government has got the message that this is a scandal and it needs to do something about it.
“I think it is safe to say that there will be something in the Labour manifesto referring the trying to address this problem
“I’ve referred to this is the PPI of the housing industry and I think that gives an indication of how big an issue this is. The more focus on this will mean the more pressure on the house builders not to go down this road.”
There are signs that some housebuilders are getting the message that leasehold houses are a game play too far.
“I’m very pleased today to have it confirmed that 171 homes in my constituency which were going to be sold leasehold will now be sold freehold.
“Unfortunately, we still have Redrow, which has permission for 2,000 leasehold houses and which still insists for no reason that I can gather other than it suits their business model to sell them on a leasehold.”
Mr Madders, who is a solicitor, added: “I do not know how so many people could have ended up buying these properties without being aware of the consequences.
“I do not know whether this is negligence across the board or a tacit understanding that difficult questions cannot be asked, but I think that the legal profession has to answer some serious questions how collectively they have failed their clients and our communities.
“The election is a big opportunity for everyone who is affected to raise this issue with the candidates standing in your constituency.
“Sign up MPs to do something about this, so that when Parliament is reconvened you can hold your representatives to account to actually deliver.
“I think this rotten practice has been exposed and we now need to deal with it. I want to see transparency.
“I want to see contrition from everybody who’s been involved in this and I want to see people own their homes in a fair and transparent way.”
78 years ago, this country stood up to tyranny.
It wasn’t just the nazis we were fighting. We had our own home grown nazi apologists.
As with 78 years ago we have to stand up against fascism we also now once again brace ourselves to stand up against the Astor family!
Home grown has become home ground!
It should be a legal requirement for ALL freeholders to show their face, at least once a year and condescend to visit their fiefdoms (sorry, I meant freeholds) and discuss problems face to face with their subjects/serfs ( sorry I meant leaseholders….)
I don’t see that happening though do you? Much more comfortable to hide behind dodgy companies and solicitors. Ideally the serfs should not even know who their freeholder really is…
The Astor family,Duke of Westminster and most big developers in receipt of Help to Buy money couldn’t care less because property law is on their side.
The DCLG wrote to me saying doubling ground rents is ‘technically legal’ and they don’t get involved with lease conditions . Laughably DCLG suggests using LEASE and said property owners are protected by the Consumer Rights Act. Pathetic legalese cop out.
Sajid Javid and Gavin Barwell say the right words but have done little. Why is Gavin Barwell not demanding DCLG stop Help to Buy abuses by developers. I fear policy is only about quantity of homes built.
Is Labour and Tories going to show they care about ‘ordinary working people’ by including radical housing reforms in their manifestos. If not it shows housing is not a priority
During the APPG I discussed the help to buy and asked the government to stop offering help to buy on leasehold properties as it’s further miss leading and implies you buy something when we know we are actually simply tenants for the duration of the lease.
Developers use help 2 buy as a massive pull factor to sell their houses. Remove this from them and they won’t be able to sell them !!! Not unless they change their unfair practices and sell them as freehold.
I share your frustrations but we won’t stop making noise until the listen and act. Despite what the law states wrong is wrong !!!
The government must take some responsibility for this. It’s because leaseholders have little protection via the law that we are all In this mess. They should of had laws to protect us from this abuse.
And LEASE have sat back and allowed this to happen. They knew full well what was going on and did nothing because apparently they don’t lobby for change they just advise what the law states. But when there is no law to protect us they choose to not highlight this and just let the problem continue to grow and grow.
Disgraceful and in my opinion not fit for purpose!!!
Yes it’s is a disgraceful situation that has been allowed to fester over the years. Help to buy was meant to help people get on the housing ladder rather than use tax payers money to enrich the already wealthy freeholder investor.
I am waiting to see what the party manifesto says about reforming leasolhod or sweeping it under the carpet…