‘Don’t trust builders to end rip-off leaseholds’
HOUSING developers cannot be trusted to fix the leasehold scandal that has left tens of thousands of families trapped in unsellable homes, ministers have been told.
in a deal with the Government, the UK’s biggest builders last week agreed to help victims struggling with rip-off leases.
But MPs have warned ministers the agreement puts too much faith in companies that ‘created this crisis’ and urged them to be tougher.
Under the voluntary deal, developers agreed to change contracts where families are stuck with ground rents that double more often than every 20 years.
instead, these rents would rise in line with the retail price index (rPi) measure of inflation, they promised. But campaigners and MPs argue the deal will still leave households with onerous leases that rise every year.
Clive Betts MP, chairman of the housing committee in the House of Commons, said the voluntary pledge would still leave tens of thousands of leaseholders stuck paying ‘unreasonable’ fees.
the Mail has led the way in exposing the scandal, with as many as 100,000 families thought to be trapped in unsellable homes.
in a letter to Housing Secretary James Brokenshire, Betts said: ‘We are concerned the Government appears willing to place a significant level of trust in the same industry that created onerous leases. the Government should not allow freeholders and developers to continue to charge onerous ground rents of any kind, including those that increase over time by rPi.
‘Weak industry pledges are not good enough. More fundamental reform is required.’
Betts said a voluntary deal should be temporary, and called for sharply rising ground rents to be banned.
Jo Darbyshire of the national Leasehold Campaign said: ‘it’s time for Government to take a much stronger stance and avoid being taken in like Little red riding Hood as the leasehold wolves dress up like Granny. We’ve seen developers posting obscene profits. they can afford to do the right thing, they choose not to.’