Councillor welcomes probe by leasehold watchdog after years of campaigning

Councillor welcomes probe by leasehold watchdog after years of campaigning

by Danielle Thompson (September 2020)

A councillor who has campaigned for an end to controversial leaseholds on new houses has welcomed an official investigation into the alleged mis-selling of properties by major housebuilders.

Cambridge Ward representative, Pat Keith, said the announcement by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that they are investigating companies including Barratt Developments, Countryside Properties, Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey – and are looking at the possibility of legal action.

Cllr Keith said: “This move by the CMA is long, long overdue because the iniquities of leasehold are bedevilling people who bought properties in good faith and find themselves ensnared in a web of charges they had no knowledge of.

“Residents have been contacting me for years about this situation, many of them in despair about the financial demands that leaseholds have place upon them. They find themselves facing charges for everything from changing a carpet to building extensions.

“I have constantly made the point that leasehold properties on the market should be listed as being ‘ for rent’ and not ‘for sale’ because that is the truth of the matter. They are tenants, not owners. If this was made clear the properties would be left unsold which is why the sellers are deceitful, some would say dishonest, in their presentation.”

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “It is unacceptable for housing developers to mislead or take advantage of homebuyers. Everyone involved in selling leasehold homes should take note: if our investigation demonstrates that there has been mis-selling or unfair contract terms, these will not be tolerated.”

Barratt Developments, one of the four housebuilders named by the CMA, said: "The group is committed to putting its customers first and will continue to co-operate with the CMA whilst it completes its investigation."

Taylor Wimpey said it would continue to co-operate fully with the CMA.

Persimmon said it stopped selling leasehold houses in 2017 where it owned the land freehold. “Any customers of a Persimmon leasehold property in the last six years have been given the right to buy their lease at below market value and many have done so,” the housebuilder maintained.

Countryside Properties said it was “committed to resolving this issue to the satisfaction of our customers.”

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