End lease fees scan­dal, says cam­paigner

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY KATE LALLY kate.lally@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @kate­lal­lyx

ASOUTHPORT coun­cil­lor has slammed “ex­ploita­tive” prop­erty charges after a fam­ily were told they would need a li­cence cost­ing al­most £400 just to change the car­pet in one room.

When the fam­ily in­quired about build­ing an ex­ten­sion, they say they were told that a li­cence al­low­ing them to do so would be £1,500.

Cam­bridge Ward coun­cil­lor Pat Keith said: “I was called in by this fam­ily who live in Vir­ginia Street and was shocked to learn that even to change a car­pet re­quires a li­cence which in it­self costs £360.

“This is like some­thing from a dic­ta­to­rial regime – not in the land of the free. It is be­yond be­lief.”

At last week’s full Sefton Coun­cil meet­ing, Cllr John Pugh re­vealed more than 92% of new homes sold in Sefton in 2016/17 were lease­hold.

Cllr Keith, a lead­ing cam­paigner for the abo­li­tion of lease­hold homes, told the meet­ing: “The fam­ily who con­tacted me were first asked for a non-re­fund­able fee of £108 just to start the process of try­ing to build a small ex­ten­sion.

“Then they were told they needed a li­cence from the agents which cost £360, plus the fees for a sur­veyor and so­lic­i­tor cho­sen by the agents, which to­talled £1,480.

“On top of this, they were then told there was an ex­tra cost called a ‘land­lord pre­mium’ which was un­spec­i­fied.

“All this pre­ceded the cost of the ex­ten­sion it­self and, need­less to say, they couldn’t af­ford to do it.

“When this fam­ily went to view the hous­ing de­vel­op­ment the sales board stated ‘houses for sale’ – not ten­an­cies for sale.

“I’m ap­palled by the way peo­ple are duped by this feu­dal sys­tem which ap­plies only in Eng­land and Wales. The Gov­ern­ment has promised to stop it – but when? The 12th of never?”

There are cur­rently about four mil­lion lease­hold prop­er­ties in the UK, leav­ing res­i­dents vul­ner­a­ble to what crit­ics say are ra­pa­cious de­mands from free­hold­ers.

The struc­ture of a lease­hold dwelling and the land it stands on are owned by the free­holder, who grants a lease for a cer­tain num­ber of years – any­thing from 99 to 999. Own­er­ship of the prop­erty re­verts to the free­holder when the lease ends.

Lease­hold­ers are charged ground rent and, of­ten, main­te­nance costs such as an­nual ser­vice charges – and have to ask per­mis­sion to make even small al­ter­ations to the prop­erty.

Ac­cord­ing to a study by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Es­tate Agents, 62% of those who have bought a lease­hold house in the past decade feel that they were mis­sold.

HAVE you been af­fected by these charges? What do you think? Email us at: sefton­com­mu­ni­ties@trin­i­tymir­ror.com or mes­sage us via the Visiter page on Face­book.

Cllr Pat Keith has slammed ‘ex­ploita­tive’ prop­erty charges

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