Formby MP vows to help residents of the Formby Bellway estate
FORMBY Labour MP Bill Esterson has vowed to step in to help residents affected by the “racket” of ever-increasing ground rent charges on their newbuild homes.
Residents on the Bellway-built estate Orchid Meadow in Formby say they are concerned about their leasehold agreements and a lack of clarity over when and if, and for how much, they will be able to buy the freehold for their properties.
Mr Esterson says the residents deserve protection from potentially unscruplulous and opaque ground management companies who can increase ground rent charges yearly and “hold residents to ransom” over purchasing the freehold.
Mr Esterson said: “This is an issue we have seen across the country with newbuild properties and I believe it is an issue the government should intervene on.
“New properties in the past would largely be sold freehold but now it seems to be becoming more and more common to sell properties leasehold with ground rents that may start off low but get larger and larger as the years go by. Purchasers are promised an opportunity to buy the freehold but are then quoted an extortionate amount. They are being held to ransom."
“My colleague John Healey who is the shadow Minister for Housing has called these ground rents ‘legalised extortion’ and Labour promised to abolish this practice if we won the last election. Residents deserve protection from this sort of racket."
“A Labour Government would end the routine use of leasehold ownership in new housing developments.”
An All-Party Parliamentary group looking at leasehold was recently set up in Westminster and its members have vowed to “reduce opportunities for exploitation” and “publicise the scandalous behaviour of professions involved in the leasehold sector.”
Local authorities have no power to stop developers selling properties leasehold and they cannot withhold planning permission for this reason, and with thousands of new properties set to be built across Formby and the wider Sefton Central area over the next 15 years, Mr Esterson is demanding greater protection for buyers.
“I have written to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to ask what his department is doing to help people stuck in this situation and to ask what the Government is doing to protect future homebuyers. What is the Government more interested in: boosting the profits of ground management companies or protecting homeowners from exploitation?”