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Problems facing freeholders on new developments

There are new problems facing freeholders. We take a closer look at the issue commonly called #fleecehold and our campaign for change.

Post updated: May 19th, 2020

problems facing freeholders

There is a silent revolution going on in the new build market, which no one seems to know about, least of all the actual homeowners and their conveyancers. The legal term is “freeholders on private estates”. Most people know about freehold and leasehold, but this new model has crept in without democratic scrutiny or discussion and over the past 10 years or so has become the industry standard. These  problems facing freeholders are estimated to affect at least half a million homes in the UK and is growing.

What is it?

You buy a freehold house on a new build estate and are told there is a small service charge to look after the lovely green open spaces. Sounds reasonable? Yes, until the problems start – like being charged high management bills for poor service or being charged before the estate is completed. Then, you begin digging and find the devil is in the detail. The charge is bound to your property through your title deeds, so your only way out is to move and pay off the fees. If you do move, the management company is involved with the property transfer, with fees to pay and possible delays (as often happens with leasehold transactions).

If you want to dispute the fees or ask for justification for spending so much you find that, unlike leaseholders who have a tribunal, there is no alternative dispute resolution available to freeholders. Your only alternative is to fight it in court. Not many people have the resources and motivation to take this on. You have no consumer rights as the management companies are accountable to the landowner (themselves) and not you. There is no way to change the service provider and no right to manage.

So the freeholders on a private estate find they have to pay whatever charge the company decides for whatever level of service it chooses. The open space you pay for can be used and abused by the general public and yet you are still expected to pay full council tax.

Leaseholders on private new build estates sometimes suffer from the same problem. In addition, they may end up paying inflated ground rents and may find the cost of buying their freehold is unaffordable. Although they may have a right to manage their own building and internal common parts, they have no such right with regard to the management of landscape and external amenities such as play areas. They are effectively paying two different types of charge with entirely different rules.

How has this happened?

This has all come about due to negotiations between developers and planning authorities under what is known as “Section 106 agreements”. The original intention of these was to mitigate the impact of new developments on their surrounding infrastructure (roads, schools etc.) where they would otherwise not obtain planning permission. Over the years it has turned into a mechanism for councils to squeeze funding from developers and use the much needed funds elsewhere. Councils may think they are doing the best for their ratepayers, but in the process are selling out on the new homeowners. So much is clawed back under 106 agreements that standards of build quality are reduced to maintain profit margins and the homeowners are forced to pay for open space which is not theirs and over which they have no influence.

If you refuse to pay because you are dissatisfied, your concerns and queries will be ignored, and you may be bullied in to paying up under threat of court action.

Homeowners feel duped, ripped off and very angry at the unfair and cynical way they are being treated. HorNet is a UK wide network to campaign for change and regulation. The group agrees that the whole system is unfair and unjust to the homeowner. The bigger picture involves retention of land by investors and the back door privatisation of green open space.

We are campaigning government to step in and at least put in some form of regulation and alternative dispute resolution and to give freeholders the same rights as leaseholders.

If you are in a similar situation, learn more about service charges in our guide

With thanks to HorNet for contributing to this article.


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162 Comments

  1. We are having similar problems now. In the process of selling a Persimmon home. The management fees are £120 per annum which seemed fair until we realised they just outsourse the grass cutting to a company and seem to pocket thousands every year. Also I’ve had to pay the Management company £350 (inc vat) for the priviledge of moving house. All they did was send 3 emails with some attachments, to make it worse they even took 2 weeks slowing down the sale to send the emails!
    It seems like a racket to me. I cant think of any other industry with no oversight where companies can get away with this.

    Comment by Max — September 18, 2020 @ 3:00 pm

  2. Very interesting to read this. I am currently disputing the 1st years payment of the service charge. We were told by the developer (David Wilson Homes) that the first years payment was taken when we bought the house but the payment was for the 1st year after the ownership of the communal areas passed from them to the management company, which was only last year (we bought the house in late 2016). The management company now claim the 1st payment covered ‘the cost of entering into the management agreement with the developer, signing all the leases on the development, meetings, site visits, answering email enquiries, etc.’ I’m pretty sure the first payment was called the ‘initial annual sum’ and subsequent payments are called “annual sum”. Can they get away with that or should I carry on disputing it? They do at least maintain the areas reasonably well but it seems like a swizz getting us to pay twice for the first year.

    Comment by Cormac — September 7, 2020 @ 8:59 pm

  3. Very good article. I am interested in a new build in Troon, Scotland. The developer told me about these service charges which are 50 pounds per month. The property is a 3 bed semi-detached house. Also, we need to pay 120 pounds by the time we get the keys of the property. All in all 600 pounds per annum. Is it me thinking that is highly expensive or it actually is? One colleague of mine lives in a new build estate of another developer and they pay 45 pounds per year which seems reasonable. I am so worried about that and it might be something from stopping me buying this property although it is our dream house.

    Comment by Nikos — September 6, 2020 @ 11:07 am

  4. Interesting reading. I have a similar experience of so called Estate Management scams

    Comment by Ray Dawkins — September 4, 2020 @ 8:02 pm

  5. Toni,
    The argument for a reduction in council tax is a long held one and it will go no-where i am afraid, council tax pays for a lot more than the upkeep of green areas and the roads so that is an argument which cannot be won. The area opposite your home again is not guaranteed and i would go so far as to say that no green area (other than National Trust land etc) can ever be protected from being built on. The home you bought was just that…. a home, but the view is not yours to own i am afraid. I have heard this before from many other first adoptees on new build estates, it is an easy trap to fall into and one the developer would not have told you otherwise, unless you have it in writing that the land you speak of will never be built upon its a battle you cannot win.

    Comment by Simon — September 3, 2020 @ 6:26 pm

  6. Very interesting article. My husband and I brought our dream home new freehold property 2 years ago and pay a management fee. Whilst I do not have a problem with this so far I am disappointed those living on a private estate entitled to a reduction in their full council tax bill! It seems a bit of money spinner for the local authorities not only are residents being charged the going rate in council tax, the local authorities are also no longer responsible for the upkeep and maintenance on these private estates!

    In addition, our new development is not yet finished and it has recently been brought to our attention that the developer has applied for planning permission to put an access road into another site they recently brought opposite our property. There were no plans to do this when we brought the property 2 yrs ago and the selling point for us was due to the fact we had lovely green landscaped area opposite our property. , We feel we have been mis sold and it seems homeowners are being left exposed on new build sites and have very little protection.

    Comment by Toni — September 3, 2020 @ 3:08 pm

  7. Very good article we have been disputing this situation for 7 years. We are selling our property now a and it’s a RIP-off nightmare between the Management Company and our Local Council.
    Thank you for this site.

    Comment by Joan Harrison — August 30, 2020 @ 12:52 pm

  8. Hi there am about to buy my new home., the developer told me anout the annual fees and said we will have full control over the management company .
    Im exploring different home builder and wondering is this free hold on private land applilied to all home builders or there are some who dont charge fees on free hold and if so how to find their names

    Thanking. U
    Ur website is really helping

    Comment by Mr NASR — August 22, 2020 @ 7:54 am

  9. I would say that once an estate is built and the local authority have not adopted it from the get go then there is little chance it will do in the future….. what incentive is there for them to do this ? None, they get all the council tax anyway without all the associated future costs of maintenance……… you have had a lucky escape.

    Comment by Simon — August 16, 2020 @ 8:18 pm

  10. Thank you very much for this information as we came extremely close to putting a deposit down on a new build! We were held up only because we weren’t able to decide between two properties otherwise we would have put a £1,000. Deposit down. We didn’t like the sound of the estate charge and was led to believe this may only be for a short period of time until the local council adopted theses areas! So thank you very much.

    Comment by Tina — August 12, 2020 @ 8:28 pm

  11. Krist,
    I am afraid that unlike those who do not live on private estates you signed a deed when you purchased your property, this will have covenants which are no doubt buried deep within that contract where you agreed to pay a fee for permission to build an extension, sell your home, change your front door etc (if you are allowed at all), it is that simple. The way your property is lived in, is not (i am sorry to say), totally in your control, yes the council have a say to extensions etc but now with the relaxation of planning laws they are unlikely to cause an issue going forward. The faceless committee who really run your estate is another matter, and it is they who have the real power over your property……. it is something you agreed to even if you may not have understood at the time.

    Comment by Simon — August 5, 2020 @ 8:41 am

  12. Dear sir/madam,

    We are living in such a property and we are actually happy to pay the service charge as our estate is clearly nicer looking compared to the others that do not pay. The issue we have however, is that there are a board of directors that make decisions on behalf of the estate. With this comes alterations to the property. My argument is that if i would like an extension to my property (that is a freehold property) how can a board of members decline even if i have been given the go ahead by my local council?

    Comment by Krist — August 4, 2020 @ 3:56 pm

  13. I have experienced managed companies from 3 angles.

    First example. I was a lease holder in my own flat and although charged over £1500 pa I experienced a standard of customer care and working practices that were and still are verging on corruption.
    The management company, under a section 20 order quite legally increased the reserve fund to pay for car park repairs. However this was 4 years ago and is till being taken although the work has never been done and is against a backcloth of already having £75 k in the fund. How can this be ever justified.

    Secondly I have recently moved from my flat and temporarily moved in with my long term partner. She has now come to sell her house, which is freehold, and the demands from her management company for an information pack, called a Selling Pack, is £450. However it is wroth mentioning that 90% of this pack is irrelevant to the Freeholders as it applies to the leaseholders.
    We have brought this to the attention of the solicitor however cannot continue with the conveyance until we deliver the information pack. This feels like it is tantamount to legal embezzlement.

    Finally and thirdly this can apply to any leaseholder who reads this small editorial.
    In my previous flat and in response to the very suspect practices of the management company, I set up my own Right To Manage company: This solved 90% of our issues and should be recommended.

    George Davies

    Comment by George Davies — August 1, 2020 @ 8:45 am

  14. If your house is Freehold then you may not be able to object. I would consult a solicitor who is a specialist in property law. They can virtually charge what they like for very little ” work”.

    Comment by Simon — July 30, 2020 @ 10:22 pm

  15. Prior to entering into a Deed of Covenant I requested a breakdown of the services and associated charges and details of the communal area for which the charges would apply. I received this and was happy with it. Subsequently the Management Company has only taken over part of the communal land yet are invoicing for the full value of the Deed. I have paid what I believe to be a reasonable amount, according to the breakdown of the charges originally supplied. The Management company is hounding me for the difference and adding overdue charges. What is my situation?

    Comment by Richard Walls — July 30, 2020 @ 10:11 am

  16. Christine,
    I agree with you in regards the many and varied restrictive covenants, they are often present in Leasehold properties but for Freehold it is a real eye opener for some. The whole point of Freehold is that you own the bricks and the land, therefore why should anyone be able to prevent you from changing your front door or changing your driveway etc without paying some faceless company a pocket full of cash ! These and the uncertainty surrounding maintenance charges is what steered me away from anything built in the last 20 years or so, unfortunately too many are encountering these issues AFTER they have purchased and not before. In this model though the local authorities win (no ongoing maintenance but still full council tax) and the developers win with an ongoing income stream/lack of lump sum payment to the council for adoption, who would want to rock that boat !

    Comment by Simon — July 28, 2020 @ 8:52 am

  17. Excellent article. Succinct and readable (unlike a TP1).

    However it omitted the obligatory covenants with this one sided set up. They are what rankle me the most. This house feels like a rented house because I have to pay to ask permission to have any kind of structure in the garden, including a shed for a the mower. There are many rules and restrictions. We “owners” are not even allowed to change the colour of our front door. I like the house but it is not mine and it probably never will be.

    Comment by Christine Stibbards — July 26, 2020 @ 1:42 pm

  18. Kenneth – The only way to alter your situation is to sell and move to a property that is ‘ true ‘ freehold, drastic i know and for some it can not be done. The situation at present is that potential buyers of the newer private estate houses are only wary of anything for sale with the words ” Leasehold” on them…… go forward, and if more stories start to surface about the issue surrounding estate rent then this could change very quickly. The current debacle with flats and cladding tells you all you need to know, until Grenfell this was not even on the radar of any future buyers, if we start to see large amounts of money being paid for replacement pumping stations or road resurfacing etc then expect the same kind of public backlash to any ongoing maintenance charges and the private estate properties. The current model will run its course and as with anything the party will end, i believe that owners of certain houses/certain estates will have real difficulty in selling, the trick is to know when to leave the party early !

    Comment by Simon — July 19, 2020 @ 8:44 pm

  19. We are in this situation on a 600+ housing estate and are fearful for the future with no redress or opportunity to alter situation.

    Comment by Kenneth Smith — July 19, 2020 @ 4:29 pm

  20. I have noticed in the TP1 I currently have in my possession, that there is a resolution process built into the covenants. Quote “If any dispute difference or question shall arise…such dispute difference or question shall be referred…to the determination and award of a Chartered Surveyor acting as an expert…whose determination and award shall be final and binding on both parties”.
    Also “If after the elapse of three years following the sale and purchase of the last dwelling on the estate a majority of more than 50% of the transferees…serve notice on the Management Company…the outgoing management company shall transfer to the nominee the freehold of the Managed facilities, firstly for the consideration of ONE POUND…and to indemnify the outgoing Management Company in respect of any breach non-performance or non-observance of such covenants”. As you can see, I have taken out the legaleese and highlighted the main points. I am assuming from these covenants that most Estate Management Companies will most likely stay fair, as from what I can see:
    1. The yearly costs can be contested and resolved fairly.
    2. If transferees (homebuyers) are dissatisfied with continual abuse of No.1 with unfair overcharging, non-performance and non-observance. The management company can be simply sacked, within the power of the tranferees and another company nominated.
    I am assuming these covenants are in place So the Estate Management companies have accountability and will conduct business fairly. My question is, is this fairly standard? As I find it hard to believe some Estate Management companies can charge whatever they like without any accountability or liability to the work promised.

    Comment by Drew — July 15, 2020 @ 2:01 pm

  21. Nick,
    Yes you can in certain circumstances change them but it all depends on what you and the other residents signed when you purchased the property, a solicitor who deals in this would need to be consulted. In terms of tax raising, no its not a tax as such but as stated in a lot of the articles in regards private estates and estate rent, the costs are unlimited…… they simply have to be, if you take the example of a pumping station, they are by definition very expensive items, eventually they will need to be either repaired or changed, who do you think will pay for that ? Well it will be you and the other residents, because if not, who pays ? If you have a massive fly tipping issue on the land then the costs for this have to be paid by the management company, i.e you and the others. There simply can not be a monetary limit on this as the range of situations that can occur is unlimited, 99% of the time it will be grass cutting and some fence/signage replacement etc but there could be a lot more that no one can foresee. This is the main reason i did not purchase a property on a private estate, it is simply too much of a risk….. and yes they can pretty much charge what they like and not have to justify what they do (freehold houses anyway) for leasehold there is more legislation allowing residents to question the billing but given they are now banned it’s freehold all the way !!!

    Comment by Simon — July 1, 2020 @ 11:24 am

  22. Is there any way to get rid of a poorly performing estate management company? Do they essentially have tax raising powers by default (i.e. you have to pay, they don’t have to provide a service). Thanks!

    Comment by Nick — June 29, 2020 @ 11:54 am

  23. You’re completely wrong to assume that this is an entirely new model. It’s existed elsewhere at least since the 1967 Leasehold Reform Act gave leaseholders the right to buy freeholds without abolishing private estates. So in the huge Dulwich Estate in south London the problem of freeholders paying service charges while the lanes to their homes are poor maintained has been going on all my life, and freeholders have to get consent (and pay fees for it) to change the appearance on their houses, which the Estate is notoriously reluctant to give.

    Comment by Mark Morris — June 24, 2020 @ 10:26 am

  24. Ina,
    In brief you are in a no win situation at the moment, currently only those who have Leasehold houses have the ability to challenge the costs charged for communal areas etc in court, Freeholders do not, the govt are looking at this but as we stand at the moment you would not win. The legislation around this was never aimed at those who own the Freehold of their house, because in the past if you owned the Freehold you paid nothing more for any land around your property (like most of the older Freehold houses in this country), it was maintained by the local authority (which is why you pay council tax) The ” Estate Rent” model changed this to what we have today. I am afraid you are playing a dangerous game which could end in the Freeholder taking you to court and there is a possibility they can take the house from you ! Google this, you have been lucky so far, there are many lenders who will now not give mortgages on Freehold properties with the clause that allows the management company to seize the house after arrears for non payment of Estate Rent…… be very careful, i do not know exactly what type of contract you signed for the yearly maintenance payments but it could contain this clause. I would consult a solicitor now, maybe find one via friends who have used a good one, either way at the moment with arrears to the management company you could NOT sell your house even if you wanted too. Good luck.

    Comment by Simon — June 23, 2020 @ 6:24 pm

  25. I live in a new development built in 2006. I’m a free holder and very happy with the house because the new houses are built to be energy efficient and do not require any major work. However, I’m not happy with the management company. I was fully aware before purchasing the house that there is shared area that need to be maintained by all the residents and I was OK to pay for it. I was paying regularly for four years but the management company never come to do any work around my house, which includes green area and parking where my park is parked. I asked them several times by email and they responded they did not inherit that area, which was radiculus because the land registry shows clearly that area is communal and needs to be maintained by the company. Four years I was maintain that area by myself while regularly paying to the management company. In 2018 I have said, enough is enough, stopped maintaining the area and stopped paying maintenance fees. I hope they would bring me to the court and will come to some solution but they have not done that. They send me continuously letters reminding me to pay and I respond that will pay when they clean the rubbish around my house and cat but they do not want to do that. Now, they say they do not want to go any work because I do not pay. I have prove of everything what I say here because U contact them by emails. I’m hopeless and would like to get in touch with owners with similar experience. I have already emailed to the MP in my area and I’m prepared to go to the court. I think it is unacceptable to sell the house that I really love because those things. It seems that the management companies could do whatever they want with us and we do not have any rights. Who regulates those companies? Do you know any good solicitor who deals with those topics? Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Ina — June 22, 2020 @ 10:43 pm

  26. Jennifer,
    Are the houses Freehold or Leasehold ? It matters a lot in terms of what you can challenge ref costs etc. I recall posting my thoughts on the life expectancy of pumping stations a while ago but even i am surprised the station on your land needs fixing after just 5 years !!! You may have a point in terms of it not being fit for purpose but it would be a civil action against the developer and that could get expensive. I am sorry you have found out about the pitfalls of the private estate model in this way but these charges, and more, are going to be difficult to avoid given the pumping station is there to keep the land the houses are built upon from flooding, if it stops working you may have bigger issues. My issue would be with your solicitor who should of made you aware (or should of been aware) of this already ongoing ” nightmare”, that is where i would be looking. The previous owners have been very lucky to sell.

    Comment by Simon — June 22, 2020 @ 8:17 pm

  27. We have recently bought a 5 year old property and walked into a nightmare. There are 25 properties in the estate. The management company is incurring significant costs to repair a pump station that was never fit for purpose in the start. All queries to the management company are ignored. We are unsure how to move forward or how to resolve the core issue. The management company also seems to be charging exorbitant fees for services that don’t exist, and yet we get no answers. It’s stressful to know we are liable to these never ending charges. The residents are united in trying to solve the problems, for fair and reasonable charges however I am unsure how effective our efforts will be

    Comment by Jennifer sewell — June 22, 2020 @ 12:28 pm

  28. More power to your elbow – we have been tied up in such an arrangement without our knowledge – furthermore we are now having to take court action as they refuse to move a lamp post they put up in our front garden because they used the wrong land plan!! Had we known that this was going to happen we would never have bought our freehold bungalow. This scandal MUST be stopped.

    Comment by Janet Powell — June 21, 2020 @ 7:39 am

  29. Think of the land registry as a govt ” library”, its job is not to scrutinize the underlying legal documents but to register a parties interest in that piece of land or property. The time to determine if paying fees is to be allowed to build a small extension or to change your front door is BEFORE you sign at the solicitors office. I do understand that a lot of people feel cheated by escalating rent-charge fees/permission fees but when spending upwards of £250,000 (up north you get a lot for this), it’s incumbent upon the buyer to understand totally what they are agreeing too. I was as naive as most buyers a few years ago but something did not feel right when I was about to agree to the purchase of a new LEASEHOLD house WITH rent charge !! I simply asked questions on the internet and within an hour or so knew that i needed to avoid this at all costs, maybe i have a suspicious mind, either way, we are all responsible for what we contractually sign up for.

    Comment by Simon — June 19, 2020 @ 4:45 pm

  30. Why did the Land Registry a government office allow this to happen and
    also fee paying permission fees on freehold properties
    for such things as a small conservatory etc that don’t need planning permission from the local council planning office

    Comment by Noelle Lutton — June 19, 2020 @ 12:54 pm

  31. Julia,
    You will need to take separate legal advice on this, i can see the advantage of setting up a residents management company which then can better regulate what is being done and how much it costs….. but to become directors of the existing management company ? Not heard of this before, this is one of the pitfalls of the new build ” business model” it can have all manner of hidden issues which are not understood when in the happy period just before purchase. I would sign up for nothing until you have spoken with a property lawyer.

    Comment by Simon — June 18, 2020 @ 5:37 pm

  32. We live on a new estate (5 years old). We were told there would be a management fee for maintenance of the grounds which was £80 at the time. This has now risen to £230 and is nothing to do with the grounds as such. It is to pay for the maintenance of shared driveways or block paved access roads. Only 98 houses pay because they either have a shared driveway or a paved road infront of their property. The managing agent has told us that we need to become Directors otherwise we will not be able to sell our properties. This carries a financial risk and we are not keen. Is this true? He has told one resident that it will cost him £600 in order to alter the deeds of his property. ??

    Comment by Julia — June 17, 2020 @ 5:53 pm

  33. Can you have a residents association on an estate of mixed lease holders and freeholders the common area’s are owed by a landlord. we all pay service charge or rent charge

    Comment by Edward Earle — June 13, 2020 @ 12:19 pm

  34. Given that the recession will affect the developers just like everyone else i doubt it ! The model for ongoing service charges has been a great financial addition to all the house builders, it has worked and means it’s the gift that keeps giving, why would they want to kill the golden goose.

    Comment by Simon — June 6, 2020 @ 1:07 pm

  35. Are developers likely to change their stance due to the forthcoming recession?

    Comment by John Gregor — June 6, 2020 @ 5:13 am

  36. I’m in the process of selling a freehold property and the sale has stalled. The purchasers Solicitor says in the title deeds, there is a charge on the common areas that the management company maintain. This charge is from the builders mortgage lender and the purchasers Solicitor will not proceed until it is clear. The development is 15 years old and many properties have exchanged over the years. Is this Solicitor correct and why has no one else picked it up if it’s so important?

    Comment by Mary — June 6, 2020 @ 1:13 am

  37. Revan – To be fair to the house builders (which i am not a fan by the way) i feel it too strong to call this a form of theft, the information is out there as to the need for ongoing charges for the grounds/play areas etc on new build houses, your solicitor would have been aware of the need to pay annual maintenance charges and should of explained this to you. There are also choices in what you buy, i am in a house which is true Freehold, with no charges for the land outside my property, i too could of purchased a new build but decided not to due to the charges you have now found out about, there are many properties up for sale that are like mine, they just need to be sought out. I am unsure what legal aspect you could look at, you would of signed a deed when the property was purchased agreeing to these charges. There is no easy way out of this i am afraid.

    Comment by Simon — May 28, 2020 @ 10:33 pm

  38. Just got a mortgage for a new built, moved in on November 2019. Got a bill for £300, for service charges to maintain playground and green spaces. We are struggling with rising council taxes and utility bills as it is, this is just another tax on new buyers. What is the difference between this and stealing? If people don’t get a chance to decide whether they want to purchase something or not, how is this legally justified? I bought this particular property because it was the cheapest in the market. I didn’t have choice on whether I wanted a property with these charges or not. I am looking for legal advice to get out of this. I really don’t like these schemes where I have to work hard for my money, and certain companies just take it from me, I have no power over my own money.

    Comment by Revan — May 28, 2020 @ 9:03 pm

  39. Paul,
    I have not heard of this particular clause before, i would consult a solicitor and get them to explain exactly what it means in the real world……. but anything which limits choice on something that fundamental will certainly affect the properties value. There are plenty of houses out there without any of these restrictions or extras costs, why take the chance, walk away.

    Comment by Simon — May 23, 2020 @ 5:00 pm

  40. Looking at buying a house on an estate and buried in the detail is a clause that limits rights for electricity, gas and waste pipes for a “specified period” of 80 years which started in 1993. This will make the property more difficult to sell in the future.

    Comment by Paul Watton — May 22, 2020 @ 8:31 am

  41. Looking at buying a house on an estate and buried in the detail is a clause that limits rights for electricity, gas and waste pipes for a “specified period” of 80 years which started in 1993. This will make the property more difficult to sell in the future.

    Comment by Paul — May 22, 2020 @ 8:20 am

  42. Hi Simon, My solicitor tells me this is a long term fix and will allow us to sell on with no issues. Yes, the property is worth it otherwise I would have pulled out,

    Comment by Adam — March 14, 2020 @ 8:15 am

  43. Adam – You have a good solicitor, think of the poor people who have purchased not knowing this, I did not know that estate rent was around in 2006, i thought it only really took off in 2008. If the paperwork (deed) gets sorted i know the lender will be protected but when you come to sell……. could this cause you issues with any future buyer ? I trust this particular property is worth all this hassle and the risk in the future ?

    Comment by Simon — March 7, 2020 @ 8:22 pm

  44. Hi, I’m currently buying a freehold property on a 2006 build house. We were near completion when my solicitor found an issue where there is a Land management company involved in the maintenance of the green space. All seemed straight forward until my solicitor found that there had been a case recently where a management company had attempt to seize a property as the service charge had not been paid by the home owner. This has now caused lender to ask for certain assurances to protect them lending. At first it seemed an indemnity policy would cover this, but after a couple of weeks lenders changed their stance and it now needs a deed of variation to resolve the issue. After a month of wrangling the sellers solicitor finding understood what was needed and the management company dictated the fee to resolve, which as of a month ago the seller paid for. Still as of today the management company have not a approved the deed and no one can seem to do anything about the. How can this be and is anyone else having the same issue, as I’m told currently 1,7 million homes in the UK will affect by this.

    Comment by Adam — March 7, 2020 @ 10:17 am

  45. Hi, I’m in the process of selling a freehold house on a new build estate that is subject to a rentcharge. The buyers solicitors have raised an enquiry on the transfer deed and they have concerns over entry to the property or creation of a lease should they fall into arrears. There is a clause to state that a demand notice will be sent to both the debtor and the mortgage lender should such a situation occur prior to the management company exercising this right. The management company is a private company limited by guarantee with no shareholders. My understanding this is controlled by the members i.e. all the residents on the estate. The buyers solicitor is pushing for a deed of variation to remove section 121 so entry or a lease cannot be created. My solicitor has contacted the managing agent who have advised we need to contact the freeholder which is a separate company to the management company. I am somewhat confused by this, can anyone help explain?

    Comment by Neal — March 4, 2020 @ 4:39 pm

  46. I am in the process of buying a freehold house on an estate with both leasehold flats and freehold houses. I have received a management pack which does not explain at all which costs go to make up the service charge and so far haven’t managed to get an explanation. However, the entire management fee for the flats and estate (land) is listed under estate costs (not under the flat block costs). Quick calculation based on the number of properties shows that freeholders and leaseholders are all paying an equal share of the entire management fee. In effect, freeholders are partly paying for flat management – is that a common arrangement?

    Comment by Rachel — March 2, 2020 @ 8:17 pm

  47. JulieG- As far as i am aware the current legislation concerning charges levied on homeowners by managing companies/agents is only applicable to leaseholders and not freeholders, the legislation was conceived to cover flats and other such dwellings i don’t think it was ever thought of that annual maintenance would be paid on a freehold property as the current private estate model was not born……. your property must of been one of the early adopters to fall into this modern scourge. I understand the govt are looking into bringing in something to cover freeholders but as we stand at the moment there is nothing, they can pretty much charge what they like for what ever they like.

    Comment by Simon — February 28, 2020 @ 5:54 pm

  48. Paid cash for a freehold property on a new build estate in August 2008. There is a management company which we are all members of and a Managing Agent. Looking up details in Companies House I note the directors on the Management Company are the same as those on the Managing Agent. Can that be right ? Like others before us we were told there would be a small annual fee of £60 to cover the maintenance of the communal areas on the estate. The fees are due on the 1st of January each year, last year we were told that the Managing Agent had changed and the bank account would be different so it was fortunate that we wait for the invoice (demand) to be sent. This year we received an invoice dated 10th Feb for the fee which was £96.79 plus late charges of £30. I have informed them that we did not receive their “demand” and asked for a copy and a breakdown of the annual estate maintenance budget for the year. I also asked for their complaints procedure only to be told that they did not have one, they did not have to send a demand out and we knew the fee was due 1st January and they were not prepared to send out a copy of the budget. It seems |I am not allowed to complain as I am not a customer and they are not offering a customer service. They are obnoxious and bullies – Where do you go from here because my argument of how do you know how much I have to pay if I do not receive an invoice is falling on deaf ears

    Comment by Julie G — February 27, 2020 @ 2:30 pm

  49. If you were not told at the time or not shown the terms and conditions when making your reservation for the purchase which would eventually be enshrined in your TP1 or TR, and your solicitor did not send every piece of document as the enquiry and searches were progressing to keep you informed and to advise you accordingly of the pitfalls, pros & cons of buying your freehold and later found out that he registered the land with all these restrictive covenants, then you may have a claim against your conveyancing solicitor if you believe he did not use his professional experience to advise you accordingly which you relied upon and caused you to be in this financial predicament, then you have acclaim against him for professional negligence, speak to a solicitor who specialise in professional negligence.

    Comment by Tesh Rai — February 19, 2020 @ 9:36 am

  50. Our property management is trying to get us to pay a reserve fee as the developers may need to move the gates into our development as they are in the wrong place, the developers have said this is down to new legislation but cannot tell us what legislation, the reserve fee will cover the cost of moving the gates but as residents we feel this cost should be covered by the developer, I am refusing to pay until I can be told what legislation has changed but the management company have said we need to pay and have threatened to get an external company to come and collect the money.

    Comment by Nik — February 18, 2020 @ 8:49 pm

  51. Yvonne – I don’t think you can give up any land you do not want because if that was the case then it would happen on a lot of private new build estates which would cause chaos. If this was the case then who would sort issues out if fly tipping etc takes place on the land no one is taking responsibility for, or at best less people are paying in so the monies owed by the remainder will be more? I do not think this is a ‘ pick and mix ‘ world. As to taking over the management, yes i know this is possible but why would i want too…… i would simply buy a house where i did not have this hassle, i.e a true freehold house where the land outside is owned and maintained by the council, when i get home from work after a 10 hour shift sorting out estate admin and other work is the last thing i want to do, especially as my friends living on a non private estate do not have this issue but pay the same council tax as i do. If i owned a house on a private estate now i would be looking to sell before this story really breaks and selling will prove more difficult.

    Comment by Simon — February 15, 2020 @ 2:22 pm

  52. I am the second owner of a house on a new build development, the last stages of the estate are still being built. Our freehold house is one in a block surrounding a courtyard and was chosen because it has no parking rights or garden gate access. So we thought there would be no service charge for that area. We did know that there would be a charge for the public green space, playground and SUDS (drainage) and thought we were paying these. Then the Land Trust starting charging us too, for the public ateas. . So council tax and two service charges. Our solicitor never made this fact clear. Apparently we had been paying a managing agent all along for the courtyard. So after some advice from a parish councillor we found some interesting information. Each parcel of land was run by a different managing agent. The home owners are all members and have a share of the Residents Management Company (it is your company). When the final house was completed a handover should occur. Check your service charge invoice for your company name and find information about it on Companies House. Call an EGM and put forward names of owners to become resident directors who can instruct the managing agent and control budget spending. We did this and have cut costs. I have no use for the courtyard but have had to take on this role on behalf of the other residents to keep our charges down. I am wondering if I can give up ownership of the land I never wanted in the first place.

    Comment by Yvonne — February 11, 2020 @ 1:38 am

  53. There has been no significant movement to my knowledge, as far i understand there are moves in govt to have homeowners on new estates who are freeholders to be given the same rights as leaseholders, this will mean they can challenge the charges being levied for grass cutting etc, currently freeholders do not have these rights and have to simply pay what they are told to pay by the management company appointed. This model of ‘ estate rent ‘ will not end, i would say to anyone who is looking at buying a new build house to either accept this or look elsewhere, with the govt cuts to local authorities and the increasing demand on them in terms of long term social care for the elderly and other financial pressures they do not have the monies to take on the new estates, it serves both parties for this current model to continue. This is something that new buyers will have to factor into their budgets if they are determined to buy new.

    Comment by Simon — February 3, 2020 @ 5:36 pm

  54. Has there been any movement on resolving this issue?

    Comment by Tobin D Elliott — February 3, 2020 @ 3:35 pm

  55. I would be amazed if any new build estate built today is adopted by the local authority from day one, this ‘estate rent’ model will be the norm going forward and unlike older buyers, the younger/more naive customers may not fully understand what they are signing up to. I have a friend who ‘has a friend’ who works for one of the larger house builders and has said that local authorities are now not giving planning permission for new developments unless a maintenance contract/company etc is in place….. i.e they have zero inclination to ever take on the maintenance of the estates that are being built at any time ! Sad indeed. I still believe that in the future it will be increasingly difficult to sell on houses built on private estates whilst still paying full council tax where-by the costs you are liable for are uncapped and the monies you pay are factored into the corporate pension models of FTSE 100 companies.

    Comment by Simon — February 2, 2020 @ 12:04 pm

  56. Peterborough Hampton Garden is a new built and the same is happening there

    Comment by Sukanta Saha — December 17, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

  57. James W – Think very carefully about this, it could be a one way street in regards it being easy to buy but hard to sell in the future, i would forget the reduction in council tax, it’s a red herring and will not happen. The costs are ” uncapped”, so this opens up a whole world of possibilities, if the estate has a pumping station (as a lot have due to drainage problems with the top water) then in years to come this will need to be either changed or repaired….. who do you think pays for this ? I can tell you you for sure it will NOT be the local authority. There are many ” used ” houses out there without the estate rent, have a chat with the rest of your family about this.

    Comment by Simon — November 27, 2019 @ 5:45 pm

  58. I would never buy a leasehold property so helping my son buy a freehold property on a private Estate. In the final stages of the conveyancing discovered this hornets nest of fleecehold -leasehold via the backdoor. This is leasehold in all but name. I am horrified but I do not want to disappoint my son. Not yet exchanged contracts. If the charge is that small it should be deductible from council tax as the green spaces should be the council’s responsibility to maintain anyway. It interesting that 50% of the charge is for administration and nothing to do with maintenance.

    Comment by Jamesw — November 27, 2019 @ 10:28 am

  59. Richard – In terms of you doing something i doubt as an individual you can, it’s your MP who will need to be put under pressure to fight this and have a cap placed on the estate rent fees which can only go upwards in the future. The MP for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman), seems to be the lead on this, you say that the estimated fees on your property have increased, i assume you mean the land outside your house i.e the estate communal areas. There is a degree of urgency on this as only last night did i read an article on the BBC Business web page about a property which had fallen through because the potential buyers could not secure a mortgage due to the estate rent charge !! This is obviously very serious and would mean that the property would lose thousands of pounds in value and potentially could be unsalable. I agree this needs dealing with right now. The MP route is the obvious one.

    Comment by Simon — November 24, 2019 @ 12:56 pm

  60. My wife n I have bought a new built home in Axminster, developed by Bovis n we are actually exactly the same problem and we have been presented with a bill based on estimated huge costs for the maintenance of the property
    We have so many of our neighbours n friends who are in the same boat n are not happy at all
    We’re wondering if we can do something about it.

    Comment by Richard Iyavoo — November 23, 2019 @ 11:36 am

  61. We have a management company called First Port. I have contacted them 3 times by phone to complain about the same things. Overgrown bushes, blown down trees left in the flowerbeds etc. They have done nothing. I have taken pictures and videos and am now refusing to pay. If they want to take me to court bring it on!

    Comment by Shane Easterbrook — November 19, 2019 @ 12:16 pm

  62. Jenna,
    A petition can do no harm but i think the best approach is for your local MP to be brought on board with this, the council tax angle is a common argument but the monies raised by this are not just for roads and grassed areas, they pay for the Police and lots of other local council commitments to do with social care etc. I see no realistic option for a low council tax for those who choose to buy a new build with ongoing estate rent charges. The council choose not to take on the new estates for many reasons and yes one of them is their own reducing budgets but also some developers do not meet the councils strict building standards for the roads/pavements/play areas etc so if the council took them on they would need to spend local tax payers monies to improve them from the start….. not viable. The only real way to mitigate this is for the publicity to be far and wide to prevent others from falling into this trap, the new builds do have a ‘ pull ‘ for new buyers but with this comes the sting of ongoing charges, these are totally uncapped and in years to come could raise to god knows what should larger infrastructure work need to be done (i.e new pumping stations/sink holes/fly tipping etc). All of these will fall upon the home owners as the land is private, like a new car, a new build estate will cost a minimal amount to maintain at first but as the years roll by, who knows, and it’s this which will mean the selling of these new builds in the future may be problematic. I would book in with your MP at their next surgery and have them take this on, if all new build owners did this throughout the country then things have a chance of changing.

    Comment by Simon — November 4, 2019 @ 9:02 am

  63. Is it possible to have a new petition started on this? It is really unfair that we are paying a huge Council Tax bill for where we live and these fees on top!

    Surely something’s needs to be done?

    Comment by Jenna — November 2, 2019 @ 3:05 pm

  64. Dear Toni – Sorry to hear this. Sometimes they do send an estimated bill and then make amendments once they have had the account audited at the end of the year. It may be worth checking the documentation you have to see when they said they would invoice you.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — October 30, 2019 @ 10:18 am

  65. Hi there
    Our ‘Management Company’ have invoiced usfor a years charges in advance? Surely you only pay after having received any service – in arrears? Also, they have added a £60.00 charge for late payment/reminder letter. Surely this can’t be right either? They just seem to pluck figures out of the sky. Very frustrating – especially as our property is freehold.

    Comment by Toni — October 30, 2019 @ 9:17 am

  66. After reading several articles, comments and anything I can, I am not proceeding with the purchase of a new build. I will stay in my 22 year old, new build, freehold with no rip off charges. The only way to fix this is to massively raise awareness so that the homes subject to these spurious charges remain unsold, unloved and empty, forcing the builders to reconsider their unashamedly blatant exploitation of new home owners.
    Shame shame shame!

    Comment by Robert Jones — October 25, 2019 @ 3:25 pm

  67. Lisa – I would expect that there should be something in place if the ” estate ” has not been adopted by the council…… have you called them to check ? It matters because if there is nothing in place (and it’s not adopted by the council) then you are opening yourself up for open ended costs should an incident occur on the land, an example being a sink hole …… they happen more than most think, if it happens outside your house in the un-adopted road then who pays ? I would be wary of any purchase if this element was not 100% clear cut.

    Comment by Simon — October 11, 2019 @ 9:26 pm

  68. If buying a freehold property on an estate of 12 houses and there has never been a management company and now the solicitor is trying to contact the ‘landlord’ where do you stand purchasing a house ???

    Comment by Lisa ruseell — October 8, 2019 @ 6:11 pm

  69. Wow the comments by Julia John and Moi spell out very clearly the dangers of buying with any kind of ongoing charges to be paid .The purpose of these payments is spelt out by the developer in glossy brochures and slick sales patter before signing the contracts. but in reality after you have signed on the dotted line these monies to be paid every year are simply another income stream for the developer/management company/investment vehicle etc, it is that simple, the grass cutting and other such nonsense is a smoke screen for charging the maximum amount of money for the smallest amount of work. I agree that this needs to stop but whilst Brexit is sucking all the time from the commons then i don’t see how this will change in the short term. It’s only with forum’s like this that the message will be communicated.

    Comment by Simon — September 18, 2019 @ 10:19 pm

  70. 14 houses in development 4 of which are social housing who pay nothing to the management company. We are one of two houses on the development outside the private road with access on a different road and never use the private road. We still pay almost £400 each year to the Management Company!

    Comment by Julia John — September 18, 2019 @ 12:40 pm

  71. Please start a new petition!
    We have a freehold house on a historic street in a conservation area directly on a street maintained by the Highways authority. Our car park space is in an historic courtyard next door with four car parking spaces, ours being the longest. We were told it was ‘space’ (singular and plural) for our two cars and belonged to the house.
    We had a shared drive on our previous deed with a covenant sharing freeholder responsibility so assumed it would be the same. It cost us about £10 p.a. and was about x10 the size of this one. At exchange, we found it was a Leasehold space with a service charge. August Bank Holiday weekend Friday and we were moving on Tuesday. We thought it was underhand.
    Then we got the service accounts 6 months later and ALL the charges were totalled for a nearby block of flats and apportioned to our car park space. It has taken over ten years to dispute this (supposed to be percentage of car park access costs only). We offered to buy the freehold of the access way from the developer but they sold it instead for less to the owner of the flats (investor). The management company are still trying to recoup costs although now they have split out the accounts and boosted the charges to come out to the same amount.
    We are so tired of this situation. Our house is on the front of tourist guide books for our city and yet so many leave because of this situation.
    Now it has got worse because we have AirBNB ‘hosts’ (they don’t live here) taking over the leases of the historic flats and one freehold house nearby so they have got the car park changed to enforced parking and threatened to charge us £100 a day for parking two cars. So the other three spaces are people coming and going all the time. Nightmare.
    No community left. We pay for gardening and cleaning (no plants or garden, it is all block paving with weedkiller) and bin cleaning (fair enough as I got fed up doing it). There are 8 properties using the courtyard, based around it, accessing their doors from it, using the bins. Only four of us are paying the costs for this, and we are the only property not actually located on this courtyard.
    The solicitors who drew up the leases should be held to account as well as the agents who mismanage the accounts and fail to supervise costs (for a £500 p.a.fee). We would like the tied lease changed to a freehold parking space with joint responsibility amongst the other freeholders. These solicitor-developer driven documents are causing too much stress and social tension. There is no reason for a few properties to be locked in to this service situation; this is not an estate but a conservation area with restored properties and some infills on historic streets in city centre.

    Comment by Mol — September 18, 2019 @ 1:00 am

  72. Christine – If your house is a Leasehold property then there are avenues whereby you can challenge the amount and what is being done with the monies, if, however it is Freehold then no, there is no way at present to challenge the amount or what it is being spend (or not) on. This should of come up when you purchased the house with your solicitor explaining this to you. There is no easy way out of paying this money as you are contractually obliged to do so. I too would be somewhat upset if the maintenance element payable by the local authority residents was being paid by the council (i.e the tax payer), but this i am afraid is the world we now live in and the only way to avoid it is NOT to purchase a new build ‘anything’ ! As every one (to my mind) has this ongoing charge via all manner of legal documents you sign when purchasing the house/flat.

    Comment by Simon — September 16, 2019 @ 2:26 pm

  73. We live on an estate with a management company. However, the council have adopted the road and all th grass areas bar one. We are paying over £200 a year for basically one area to be cut supposedly every 2 weeks in the summer and once a month in the winter. I know this isn’t the case as the area is directly outside my house, so it’s obvious when it’s been cut. We seem to be paying for basically for the flats, dont get me wrong they pay more, but dont see what else they are doing. I have also found out that the council are paying the fee for the people in the council houses, so not only do I pay for the estate management, my council tax, I also seem to be paying for the council house as well, twice! Is there anyway that we can over throw the companies as this doesn’t make sense.

    Comment by Christine Flynn — September 16, 2019 @ 11:24 am

  74. John – It’s not a bad idea, if the general public become more aware of exactly what is involved when a house is purchased on an estate with ongoing maintenance charges then your type of property will become less desirable (i.e difficult to sell). The leasehold scam has been exposed and the public are now more aware, it will not be too long before the ‘ estate rent ‘ scam is also out in the public domain. I would get out now and buy a property with no obligation to pay for land you have no control over. Good luck

    Comment by Simon — September 13, 2019 @ 10:05 pm

  75. Fed up with management company. Wish I knew then what I know now!! Seriously thinking of selling and going back to normal freehold property!!

    Comment by John Michael — September 13, 2019 @ 4:03 am

  76. Not to stand up for the developers too much…… but the role of a charity is to support the truly needy and those who have nothing in terms of options in life or an ability to purchase a home, if your in the lucky financial position to be able to buy a house on a new private estate costing in excess of £300,000 (often a lot more) then i would argue you don’t need a charities assistance and all you do need is an ability to conduct research into what your buying, and if you did that then these posts and many others would highlight that maybe you should be looking at another option than buying on a private estate. The buying of a home is the biggest purchase anyone will ever make, it should be taken seriously and research should be done, i did…… and did not buy on a private estate, others can do the same.

    Comment by Simon — August 21, 2019 @ 9:36 pm

  77. The developers and councils are preying on poor people with their useless practices. Can people just stop buying fake freeholds and demand to be respected?
    Why don’t we have Charity companies building homes? All they do is save birds, dogs and sell dirty clothes on the high streets. About time we get quality not for profit house builders that people would be proud to donate to.

    Comment by AA — August 20, 2019 @ 12:15 pm

  78. The U.K is a corrupt country where the guys in suit are worse than common thieves. The solution is for low – middle income people to start a building company that builds 100% freehold homes with public spaces managed by a fund with no need for annual fees. Some basic things in life should never be used as a way to rip people off. Scams must not be legalised.

    Comment by AA — August 20, 2019 @ 12:01 pm

  79. That fee is not fair at all for the amount of work which goes into the paperwork, but when a house on a private estate is purchased you are virtually signing a blank cheque when it comes to your future obligations.

    Comment by Simon — August 5, 2019 @ 7:42 pm

  80. What about the fees when a person comes to sell the property,, £344.00. Is this fair..??

    Comment by Ian bacon — August 5, 2019 @ 5:23 pm

  81. Les – Its worse than a simple £200, it means you and your fellow house buyers are forever responsible for the land outside your front garden, and that could mean all manner of other ‘ one off ‘ costs which no one can even imagine right now…… the pumping station on most estates being an easy one, think very carefully before signing on the dotted line, once done…….

    Comment by Simon — August 3, 2019 @ 10:42 pm

  82. Glad I found this was about to buy house in Howden East Riding Yorkshire
    York vale being built by Harron homes was told in there showroom office about small maintenance charge of about £200 pounds year looks like that’s the same so council doesn’t have to maintain park area so an added back door extra council tax
    It’s scandalous

    Comment by Les — August 3, 2019 @ 10:25 pm

  83. Christopher thanks for your message. It seems as though you need to ask your conveyancer to review the deeds of the property again to see the boundaries of the property and also go through the lease document to see what it says in there. Please consider becoming a member of HomeOwners Alliance. Membership costs £45 (only £40 during our summer sale!) and entitles you to unlimited phone and email access to our HomeHelpline, and a free legal call – https://hoa.org.uk/homeowners-alliance-membership/

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — July 29, 2019 @ 10:26 am

  84. We started leasing a property from moray housing partnerships in Fochabers in February 2018 and our street is open planned with a large front garden with a grassy waist land at the side of our house which has been closed of with security fencing by the developers and on the fence a sight which says construction site keep out , any way we have recently discovered a path is supposed to be going from the grassy area straight across our lawn which people are already doing even with security fence and the sign . The housing partnership did tell us if the path wasn’t in in 2 years it would never happen anyway but feel this may have been to keep us sweet . Do we have any rights or actions we can or could take ? Do we have to maintain the front lawn which the path is supposed to be crossing as i don’t want to if it is , and is moving the only way out ? I have a daughter diagnosed with autism and has sensory issues which I’m afraid of being affected the most.

    Comment by Christopher Dunbar — July 28, 2019 @ 10:32 pm

  85. Nightmare indeed William – If that is not sorted quickly then the area will start to go downhill and cost more to bring back, and as you say no owner can sell and even if you could the price will be lower given no ongoing maintenance will be done, if you have something on the development that can ‘ break ‘ like a pumping station etc then that could cause real issues if no one has been paying to keep it serviced etc. I would get together with all the 10 owners and put the funds you normally pay into an account to pay for a property solicitor to get this dealt with asap. Good luck

    Comment by Simon — July 21, 2019 @ 7:18 pm

  86. We live on a new private development of 10 properties the development company has been dissolved and the management company has also been dissolved so the land is now passed to the treasury they were both owned by the same people. The residents have been maintaining the green ares ourselves. We are trying to take possession of this land as no maintenance was ever done by the Management company. We also have the problem if we want to sell our house we have to have the permission of the Management company who no longer exists as there is a restriction at the Land Registry.
    Nightmare!

    Comment by william — July 21, 2019 @ 4:19 pm

  87. Our director won’t even speak to us

    Comment by Barry Challinor — July 16, 2019 @ 3:05 pm

  88. Mike,
    As far as i know the council only get money off the developer under 106 if they are going to be adopting the estate…… may be wrong but why pay the council for services that in the future they will not be taking on ? This ” confusion ” is why houses on private estates may cause issues in the future when it comes to selling on.

    Comment by Simon — July 12, 2019 @ 11:32 am

  89. Hi all.This is my first post and am as fed up as you.We have a situation where 2 years ago the developer opened a play area and used a managing agent to run our companyThere are still 130 homes to be built and we have been told there will only be 1 management companyWe learnt last week that the managing agent has now been given the completed parts of the estate to maintain.This includes an area that is to be gifted to the council for allotments and a field,that planning permission was refused for(because of bats).There has been no transfer of land to our company so effectively are going to be maintaining the developers land for them.Whilst dealing with the agent there have been ongoing questions as to why completion funds seem to take so long to reach accounts,without any clear answers.Regarding councils,the amount of money they are taking from developers in section 106’s is scary as undoubtedly is also reflected in your house price.

    Comment by Mike — July 11, 2019 @ 9:06 pm

  90. To be fair to the developers the land your bricks and mortar sit on is Freehold, the problem is that the land outside your gate/driveway etc is not owned and taken care of by the council…… it’s your and your fellow purchasers responsibility., it’s this which I and others who’s house is also Freehold do not have. I simply could not sign up for an unknown future when it comes to payments for land which the public have total access and which i will have to pay for, for as long as i live in the house, the local authority will never adopt these estates…. why should they ? They get the full council tax anyway without any of the costs, it”s a win win. I do feel for those who buy on these estates as i totally believe that in the future there may be issues with selling them in a similar way that the Leasehold tenure has become so toxic.

    Comment by Simon — July 5, 2019 @ 8:56 am

  91. I too have fallen foul of this, but at the point of sale. Because the management company are involved I have to shell out £400 for an ‘information pack’ that the buyer will require. Is it printed on gold lined paper or something?

    Absolutely outrageous, it shouldn’t be called ‘freehold’ it should be called ‘freehold lite’.

    Comment by Aaron — July 3, 2019 @ 12:41 pm

  92. I bought my house 3years ago. It is a new estate and we were supposed to manage ourselves, but, the builder passed us onto a management company, they have increased our charge by 50%. We have had no A.G.M. Surely we should have some rights of how we wish to manage ourselves? Mike.

    Comment by M v Donnelly — July 2, 2019 @ 5:16 pm

  93. Georgia – Well if your solicitor can not get an answer then what hope would you or anyone else have ! If the estate is private (i.e not adopted by the council) then i see no reason why the information can be be given to you very quickly indeed, are we saying here that the management company do not know what they are charging for ? If so that is a worry, also would you sign up to pay an unknown amount of money for something you know little about ? No, of course you would not, and not many would. I would think very carefully before you go ahead with this, the fact they are taking this long to come back with what on the surface should be a simple list of charges is a tad worrying. Is the house freehold ? Are any of the current houses occupied by owners who you could knock on and ask what they pay for and how much ? Seems a bit excessive i know but over 3 months to get simple answers !

    Comment by Simon — June 25, 2019 @ 7:51 pm

  94. I am in the process of buying my first house with an estate rent charge and a service charge?
    We wasn’t made aware at first when we was shown or had our offer accepted it had a estate charge. I have spoken to a few people and know one seems to understand why there would be to charges. Are solicitors are struggling to get the right information from from the company regarding this rent charge? Me and my partner love the house however, we are unsure whether its the right decision for the future? We will have trouble selling it on in the future and roughly how long does it take to get answer we have waited nearly 3 and half months so far. Feels like something is right?
    Any advise anybody could give us?

    Comment by Georgia — June 25, 2019 @ 11:10 am

  95. I would say that although possible a lot of new home owners with busy lives simply would not wish to take the responsibility on, you would be directors and have all the responsibility that comes with that, the filing of accounts, dealing with the financial side of things and that includes those who will not pay (there will be some), also the admin with finding suitable quotes and ensuring the works are done and the bills paid. It could be a mill-stone and one that owners of houses not on a private estate do not have to deal with. I would canvass opinion around the estate first to see if any of the other residents feel as you do and would be willing to do it, i am on a committee in regards a number of flats i own (BTL), and we employ a management company to arrange all this, and it’s still a pain ! If you were doing it all yourself then i am not sure it would work out.

    Comment by Simon — June 23, 2019 @ 8:12 pm

  96. I would be interested to know if any residents on any developments across the UK have considered taking ownership of the maintenance areas themselves. I have recently moved into a new build on a site which is still undergoing construction for at least another year. From what I have read in the deeds, when the final property on the development is built and sold, the residents will become Directors of the maintenance company and then have the ability to choose maintenance provider (in reality I am not sure how this is done, would we need to form a committee?). If we were to set up a small not-for-profit company/charity we could essentially appoint ourselves to undertake the maintenance rather than an expensive management company who might provide a very poor service. It seems that we have an opportunity here to avoid falling into the management company trap whilst the developer is still building.

    Comment by Craig — June 20, 2019 @ 4:17 pm

  97. The information regarding the ongoing ‘ Estate Rent ‘ charges will not be in the deeds as such but in a separate document which you must of signed when the house was first purchased……. and your solicitor should of highlighted it. I am afraid that this is just one of the consequences when private (profit driven) management companies get involved in the housing market and goes someway in confirming what i think will happen in the future as more and more people hear of the leasehold issues and now the ongoing estate rent issues, there will be a two tier market, it is sad and shocking and this govt and previous ones have been asleep at the wheel, imagine if you purchased a house which was leasehold and had estate rent charges as well ! You would find it even more difficult to sell it. I can not offer any crumb of comfort i am afraid, they can charge virtually what they like for very little ” work”, at least the ongoing charge is reasonable, i have heard of others much higher than yours. Just keep trying and you will find a purchaser who may accept these extra charges. Good luck.

    Comment by Simon — June 19, 2019 @ 8:59 pm

  98. We own our freehold property outright. We have a 3 bed detached property with garage and private drive. We have no grassland at all around anyone near our house but have to pay £108.00 a year for upkeep of grassland etc. We put our house up for sale November 2018 and to.d everyone about the £108.00 charge because that was all we paid. Yet, when we sold we were told we had to pay a charge of transfer fee of £364.00 or we could not sell the property. 3 weeks before completion out buyers pulled out, then it happened again May 2019 why?? Our house is lovely, just 7 years old….oh, but whoever buys it has to pay a management fee to buy it at £600.
    What for. ?? We have the title deeds and it’s not anywhere to be seen?? People use the road and grassland etc and we have to lay the upkeep and full council tax. Got in contact with HLM Management company and they said its in the pack! What pack we purchased from NEW and no pack was given?? We are so upset. There’s no one to complain to. The only person you can contact is your own solicitor. This management is faceless. We cannot even ring them as they don’t accept incoming calls. Our house is up for sale but we have little chance of selling it…
    Nightmare!!

    Comment by MR & MRS LISTER — June 19, 2019 @ 5:58 pm

  99. Cary,
    It is a lot more involved than the council’s refusing to adopt them, the developer has to do certain things first before the council will ” take on ” any estate, they demand that the roads and pavement are up to adoptable standards….. sounds simple but not so, this means they have to be a certain width and built to a certain quality, well how is this in the interests of the developer ? It’s not, they have to spend more money to make them this way and of course they also have to pay a lump sum to the council for them to adopt them….. again why would they do this ? Oh and lets not forget that if they do build them to below adoptable standards then the roads will not be as wide along with the pavement, what advantage would this have for the developer….. more houses can be built on the same plot of land ! Not so easy is it, and the final cherry on the cake is that they then get to sell the ongoing fees to a 3rd party for a pretty sum. Welcome to 21st housing. Also remember that the fees now will not stay the same they will certainly increase and that increase could be up to anything they say, its open ended and that is something i would never sign up for, its your money and your choice but i do believe that going forward there could be a two tier system in terms of housing which is for sale on the ‘used ‘ market, those like mine which are true freehold and no estate fees (the council own the land outside my driveway) and those private estates that have sprung up over the past 15 years or so where you pay full council tax and a sum of cash on top which is unregulated, which would you choose to buy ? This is a time bomb and i would not put myself in the line of fire.

    Comment by Simon — June 15, 2019 @ 2:47 pm

  100. I believe there is a bill being passed through regarding more governing around this issue but I believe this is not enough to impose caps and quality of service. We shouldn’t be charged anything until the estate is 100% complete. I think the councils should not get away with their involvement in this, it was them in the first place refusing to adopt and maintain these new estates that caused this issue so they should reduce the council tax charge to those paying estate fees if they dont want to maintain them, they can’t have their cake and eat it! We’re about to purchase a property with a fee of £338 PA!!! theres only 51 houses on the estate the costs are extortionate it is making me think twice about it all and now my my solicitor is telling me they may want a whole years worth upfront for a period I never lived there! Please can a new petition be created and passed around all social media sites this is daylight robbery.

    Comment by cary — June 9, 2019 @ 10:21 pm

  101. Roshni – To be fair to the council it’s not they who need to sort out anything, its the developers themselves, its they who do not have to build the estates to an adoptable standard and make a commitment to pay the council to take it over, they also make money when they turn it into a private estate whereby they can charge fees for such things as grass cutting and other such nonsense that the rest of us get done for free. If the public decided enough is enough and did not buy on the new builds then things would start to change, if i were a developer i would probably do the same, also remember that whatever they say the fee is now, there is zero guarantee that it will stay this way in the future ! Its an open wallet i am afraid, my house is true freehold and the land directly outside my driveway is owned and maintained by the council, i will never buy anything else, think very carefully if this is what you want.

    Comment by Simon — June 1, 2019 @ 11:45 pm

  102. I am looking to purchase a new build and being told I will have to pay £150 per annum for the maintenance of greenery which I have no control over. I have been told that the land will also be used by members of the public and not just residents in the new builds – this is so unfair.
    I will still also pay council tax – so essentially I am paying twice as much!
    I am not happy and the council needs to sort this out!!

    Comment by Roshni — June 1, 2019 @ 9:38 pm

  103. I would be happy to sign a new petition. Something needs to be done and awareness raised about this, as there will be many more homeowners in this situation who are unhappily putting up with their situation.

    Comment by Raj Arora — May 30, 2019 @ 11:35 am

  104. Please start another petition! We need this

    Comment by Ags — April 29, 2019 @ 11:48 am

  105. Jackie – So they want you to pay them from new and the other management company also ? Have they stated what this charge is for …. grass cutting etc and do you have a copy of your deeds which they say this due payment is mentioned in ? The first port of call is to get your hands on a copy of your deeds to find out what they are talking about. If your house is freehold and they are in the deeds then i am afraid there is little redress in terms of challenging it, if your leasehold then there is something in law which allows you to question the fees/service etc. I am guessing that if you have now been contacted by them then the others on the estate will have been also. I am not sure but if the estate has recently been totally finished it may be a charge for services which are now been levied …… to be honest with private estate it could be anything and although it will probably be in the deeds these clauses were often missed at the time of buying by all parties (expect the developer of course), first course of action to look over the deeds and if its not obvious then get them to show you where this mystery clause is which allows a charge. Good luck.

    Comment by Simon — April 28, 2019 @ 10:14 am

  106. We bought a new build 4 years ago and told we would have to pay the management company, which we do . But yesterday out of the blue we heard from another management company that said we need to pay them as well as it is in our deeds, but nobody living on the estate has heard of them before yesterday.

    Comment by Jackie — April 24, 2019 @ 6:52 pm

  107. Wow Margaret, your post just goes to show that when you purchase a freehold house on a private estate the issues in the future can not be foreseen, but can be very expensive. I understand how frustrating dealing with committee’s can be as i have other BTL properties and i am on a management team for them, trying to get others to see things as they are can be very difficult. I wish you luck for the 25th but i suspect that more expert legal advice will be required and that of course is not cheap.

    Comment by Simon — April 22, 2019 @ 9:54 pm

  108. Bought new build house when 100 dwellings 50% occupied from Property Developer March 2015 Condition of Purchase to sign Deed of Covenant paying fee £120p.a for Management Company (registered Company Act 2006} nominally elected by membership to manage public expensively furnished play area plus public Open Space and manage property to benefit Members.Developers obtained Planning Agreement subject to a number of conditions one of which is surface water drainage, the present problem which surface Feb 2018 although known to Man. Committee (Minutes) June 2016..
    Members told part(if not all) of surface water on Estate which drained via a Tank was not
    adopted by Wessex Water when they adopted the sewage drainage due to faults in the Tank which had been cleaned and inspected by Developer, our Chair plus an independent expert . It was now proposed to adopt the tank and associated drains to be administered by the Management Company charging via an extended s106{no control of price or competence) to be put to a majority vote at AGM 5.4.1920. I asked Wessex Water if remedied would W.W. adopt. Told not cost effective to remedy even if possible. To my relief 1.4.19 Chair notified members proposal for AGM was postponed as expert information received, a Formal Report
    awaited. A poorly attended AGM of sycophants were told of 4 conduits to Tank 3 were useless and 1 missing and floor of tank was permeable. There was a unanimous minus one vote at the AGM to return the existing Directors Developer and Directors incompetent not to have known why W.W. refused to adopt.
    My problem is not being able to get any support: a like minded Residents Association would help, no one trusts me as much as they trust the Management Company, until some disastrous decision is made which affects the value of their property.
    I have contacted my Home Insurance Legal Adviser whose Receptionist will not accept my case until I produce my Conveyance Solicitors confirmation of what I knew on Purchase
    The Conveyancers will not admit to losing the information,(I have my copy File) they refused by stone walling and evasions and after my allegation of loss, still have not produced the confirmation I need. I will have to contact the Legal Adviser again and ask them to contact the Firm. If I do not get legal help from that source I will take up your invitation to join HOA.
    Present possible avenues :i) Legal Advice on Developer’s responsibility for construction of the surface water drainage system.ii) Registrar of Companies Act 2006 under Part 30 s 994 Protection of Members; s.170 -177 Responsibilities of Directors,N.B. info. needed on system used for submitting evidence for investigation by Registrar iii) Determination of Application for Planning Agreement para 8 standard of surface water drainage needed and sustained. Representation is made by Management Company on behalf of Members to Planning Officer p what would have happened had there been no late intervention at the AGM? I would not have signed a Deed of Covenant and would not have paid would I be compelled to pay a Deed of
    Covenant I voted against?. N.B. I note your section ‘How has this happened’:District Council obtained substantial gains in benefits for Parish Council, Town Council plus a cctv system for Police instead of Puffin Crossing lobbied or by Speed Watch . Perhaps Developer dragging his feet and under an Enforcement Order is looking for the pay off time.
    P.S. have downloaded copies your ‘Problems facing freeholders on new developments’ to try and spread authoritative information and gain some understanding of the reality of the vested interests affecting freeholders. Hope publicity is O.K.?
    There is a Monthly Meeting of Management Company Thursday 25.4.19 I’ll put copies on the table around which they meet. Should prove interesting.

    Comment by Margaret Evans — April 22, 2019 @ 6:44 pm

  109. We purchased a freehold 3bed detached house on a new estate in East Kent in 2005. It was intimated that when the developers had completed their work, we would be subject, by covenant, to a Management Fee, payable to a residential management company at £80 pa.
    The estate was completed 18 months later and the first annual bill arrived for £180. Residents of the 200+ homes not happy!
    We investigated Company Law, etc. We formed a very effective Residents Association. We got residential volunteers to stand as directors of our specific management company. We called for an Extraordinary General Meeting of the company and voted the standing directors (who had been appointed by the overarching large company appointed by the developers)out.
    The result was that we now look after our own Management Company and appoint a gardener (a local one – not from 200 miles away!), a solicitor to deal with transfers and we collect the annual charges ourselves. Anyone declining to pay cannot sell their home until the debt is paid so we have v. few debtors.
    We still charge less that £80 pa, and that is after 14 years. Heavens above knows what we would be paying if the original company had still been in charge.
    I will leave my details on the Contact page of this site.
    It needs organising and the support of all the freeholders, but it was worth it. We have saved £1000’s.

    Comment by Bloodstain — April 19, 2019 @ 1:06 pm

  110. Well done Frances you have done what i did and pulled out before it was too late, many don’t see the issue until they have signed on the dotted line and are effectively trapped with all the future issues with the sale of their house, as more people understand the problem then it will become increasingly difficult to sell on houses which are on such ‘ private ‘ estates, and even though they are technically freehold in the fact the land the house sits on is theirs they still have financial commitments for land outside of their property. I can see there being a two tier market for used houses in the future with ‘ private ‘ estate properties being worth less than those of us who pay nothing more than council tax to live where they call home, as an aside, if on these estates something more than the cutting of grass is needed who then pays…. lets say a new pumping station is needed (which in time it will be needed) the costs could runs into the 10’s of thousands, the residents pay for that, a sink hole, fly tipping, the list could go on, its a time-bomb.

    Comment by Simon — April 10, 2019 @ 10:15 am

  111. We have also just pulled out of a new property sale due to this issue – It is utterly shocking that this is allowed to happen to hard working people. The government, house builders and management companies are all letting people down and giving the industry a bad name, let alone fleecing people who have spent years working hard to make it onto the property ladder. Help to Buy incentives which are encouraging people to commit to these schemes could also be seen as encouraging this type of conduct and set up.

    More worryingly, limited companies are being set up as management companies for individual development with named directors who have Positions of Significant Control (PSC) who are from the management companies themselves. They will be very difficult to remove into the future, even when legislation comes in because they are imbedded within the residents management companies and these individuals have more rights than other members and directors. The properties are being marketed as freehold but they are essentially a leasehold to the communal areas – it’s utterly disgusting and seriously letting people down. Thank you for your article, we are two of the lucky ones who have, for now, managed to avoid this scandal. We are very much looking forward to this being governed and monitored by a trustworthy source.

    Comment by Frances Morris — April 3, 2019 @ 10:20 pm

  112. The petition of 6.1.19 which has been rejected needs resubmitting with more content. The outline has been made with the issue but no solution has been provided as to what is required. Can anyone resubmit? May need to state the fees need to be capped or raised with inflation only. This would prevent the service being sold on for ridiculous charges
    Then the petition needs to be circulated on social media to get the 10000;signatures

    Comment by Nadine Williams — March 29, 2019 @ 12:06 am

  113. Thanks Robert for your comment. Sorry to hear you have had to cancel. We are campaigning on issues such as this and unfortunately we do hear of situations like yours quite often. Glad that you were able to spot it.

    Comment by Marianne Cole — March 21, 2019 @ 12:54 pm

  114. Have just canceled my forthcoming purchase of a new property in Kingswood Hull after reading about this service charge on the paper i signed during the reservation.
    And after googliing this find a mine field hopefully about to erupt, this is not right, if you buy freehold you expect freehold and not to have to pay a service fee to upkeep or access the estate or any area of the estate your house is on unless of course the estate is private and gated with security. I would advise anyone in a similar position to do the same as myself and make it known.

    Comment by Robert Doggett — March 20, 2019 @ 5:37 pm

  115. Hi Charles,
    As stated check the purchase contract but i suspect that what they say will be correct and that any future monies will be payable to them, if the property is freehold then at the moment there is no legislation which allows you to challenge the charges, this is being discussed by the govt at present. The builder/developer has (in simple terms) sold on the upkeep of the grounds to a company who will likely take a lot and do nothing, this has become a sadly familiar story with new developments and is just another money making scheme which is taking over from the leasehold cash cow.

    Comment by Simon — March 19, 2019 @ 7:29 pm

  116. Hello Charles, your first port of call will be to check your purchase contract and to see what it says about service charges being payable to a management company.

    Comment by Sara Hind — March 19, 2019 @ 10:05 am

  117. Fascinated by all this as the freehold owner of a new home on a modern development. The builders took money from us at the time of purchase for ground maintenance of the open spaces but over the past two years have done little or nothing with that money. We have now heard from a management company (not from the builders themselves) who say they have been assigned the responsibility for this maintenance and they will be asking us for more money in due course for any work done. My question is whether there is privity of contract between us and the management company and if so how has this come about? If we refused to pay them what legally has conferred on them the right to sue us for the money. Anyone know the answer to this? Many thanks.

    Comment by charles leyberg — March 15, 2019 @ 4:54 am

  118. Hello Darren, thanks for getting in touch. I have to say that sounds pretty awful and on the extreme end of issues that we hear of in terms of charges and work not being carried out. Have a read of our guide https://hoa.org.uk/2018/11/need-to-know-before-you-buy-a-home-on-a-new-housing-estate/ We’ll also email you separately.

    Comment by Sara Hind — March 19, 2019 @ 11:36 am

  119. We bought a new build REDROW freehold on an estate in Crewe. there is a smaill childs park about 13ft by 13ft. there are about 80 houses on the estate and each one has to pay almost £1000 a year now this has doubled each year we have been there! the management compant is FIRST PORT such a bad company in every way. (google them and see their ratings). The company has broke theire contract lots…they are supposed to clean and cut the grass in this area every month and this has not happened, I took pictures and sent them the proof as the grass was grown to about 3ft high and the same rubish was there in each picture. They didnt care and said we have to pay and had the cheek to charge us £60 for each letter they wrote to us! This should be against the law surely?? if I hired a gardner to do my garden each month and he didnt turn up for 3 months on the run I would not employ him any longer. If my internet keeps going slow and it is not fixed even though I am in a 18 month contract I can legally leave as the Company is not fulfilling their contract. Please tell me anyone why is this not the same for a management company?

    Darren

    Comment by Darren Dutton — March 14, 2019 @ 3:24 pm

  120. I live on a new development in East Sussex. It has an adjacent 7 Ha publicly accessible open space, storm water ponds and woodland. However the developers will be responsible for it for 12 years. As of March 2019 they have done no maintenance and I’ve taken it upon myself to clear and tidy the area near my house. Our contention are the separate common parts of the estate itself (total area including the houses of 2 Ha) for which the appointed management company has done very little (other than cut the grass a few times). However as owners we each are members of the registered management company and entitled to elect directors to the board. The challenge is to force the adoption of a Transfer Date now that the estate is complete. Then as I understand it becomes the residents own private estate. We own and control the lot! At least that how we think it should work.

    Comment by Stephen Neville — March 3, 2019 @ 11:18 pm

  121. When I agreed to purchase a retirement apartment the landlord owned the freehold. I now find that he sold the freehold BEFORE my purchase was completed. Any right to first refusal was negated by that.. That is the same for all owners here.

    Comment by Mrs. Chandler — February 17, 2019 @ 12:07 pm

  122. Hello Damian, thank you for your message. Yes, unfortunately that petition has now closed but it is great that you want to do something about it. If you follow this link it will help you to start your own petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/check

    Comment by Chandni Sahni — February 28, 2019 @ 10:34 am

  123. I’ve gone to sign the petition link and it appears that the petition on the 6th of January 2019 has been rejected therefore could anybody tell me or inform me if any additional petition has since been adapted or looked into. We to have issues with this property managment rip-off scheme on our new estate in Bodmin in Cornwall the only solution I can see at the minute is this will be in the next 5 to 10 years the next PPI scandal where we have to try to recover and recuperate our money from these rip-off merchants ! I hope somebody can point me in the right direction with regards to a petition kind regards Damian

    Comment by Damian jones — February 15, 2019 @ 12:21 pm

  124. Hi Paul,

    Sorry to hear about your issues, is your house leasehold or freehold ? It does matter in terms of any challenge to the monies being asked for and the work they say they have done, also how do you know they have not ” adopted ” the first pond ? If they are the nominated maint company then why would they not look after it all ? How do you know they are not looking after the first pond. Their reply regarding legal action is fairly standard fare i am afraid, the bully tactics do tend to work so they carry on using them, i would also advise you raise this with your MP as there are steps being taken in Westminster to attempt to get a grip on this type of sharp practice.

    Comment by Simon — January 30, 2019 @ 4:29 pm

  125. Hello Paul, sorry to read about this situation. As a first step, contact LEASE where you can book a free call for initial advice to understand your rights in challenging these service charges. https://www.lease-advice.org/ If, after taking advantage of the free advice, you need some more, tailored advice, please do consider joining us as a member.

    Comment by Sara Hind — January 30, 2019 @ 12:42 pm

  126. Hi, I’m looking for some advice.

    We have a company maintaining the grounds around our estate. We moved in two years ago and paid a fee upfront as part of the purchase. There are 4 areas to the maintenance agreement, one large park area and balancing pond, a second balancing pond and a small bicycle path no more than 10 – 15 metres long.

    The maintenance company have only adopted the second balancing pond and small bicycle path, the park is still a work in progress (two years later). Yet the company are asking for the full amount paid each year.

    I regularly walk through the areas and I haven’t been happy with their service, I’ve kept photographs of shrubbery growing across the paths and long grass. This stayed the same for a period of 6-8 weeks end of last year.

    I’ve refused to pay the full amount, and I’ve offered a reduced payment, explaining that A) they are only looking after around a third of the area they should be, and B) the service provided isn’t good enough in my opinion.

    I have been told they are very happy with their own service, they regularly inspect and want me to send my photographs to them, but within days of me receiving their email reply I started getting letters saying they have added a fine and will be taking me to court if it isn’t paid in 10 days.

    Which is the best route, Solicitor or Citizen’s advice? I’m not sure how this should be approached now as trying to talk to them isn’t working.

    Comment by Paul — January 28, 2019 @ 10:38 am

  127. Hi Kristian, this is a difficult question for us to answer on this platform with limited information. Please consider becoming a member and our membership team could get more detail from you and look in to this further for you.

    Comment by Sara Hind — January 15, 2019 @ 2:58 pm

  128. Thanks so much, Sara.

    Is it legally possible to purchase without the contractual commitment to the green spaces?

    Comment by Kristian Smith — January 9, 2019 @ 8:24 pm

  129. Hi Kristian, we always recommend that when purchasing a property on a new development that you find your own conveyancer who you can be sure will look after your interests without the risk of a conflict of interest that could arise if using the conveyancing firm recommended by the developer.

    Comment by Sara Hind — January 7, 2019 @ 1:41 pm

  130. Is it possible for a conveyancing solicitor to negotiate out of the Management Charge, given the land is not part owned under the feeehold but indeed common space owned by the building company.

    Comment by Kristian Smith — January 6, 2019 @ 1:41 am

  131. I’ve begun a new petition, would anybody be happy to support it?

    Click this link to sign the petition:
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/236597/sponsors/new?token=TtKuWLGv23afijT1HFA

    My petition:

    Amend Section 106 Agreements to planning permission for New Build Estates

    Section 106 Agreements relate to negotiations between developers and planning authorities which too frequently leave homeowners in a position where they are forced to pay for open space which is not their property and over which they have no influence.

    Most new build estates now carry management charges on freehold properties. This means homeowners pay full council tax and also management charges. Planning permission has often been granted with the council relinquishing responsibility for adopting certain open communal spaces. The charges cover the maintenance of these. These charges are not yet regulated and whilst published charges may be given upon purchase, these could escalate. There is also limited avenues of recourse.

    Comment by Kristian Smith — January 6, 2019 @ 1:38 am

  132. In England, a Summary of Tenants’ Rights and Obligations, which briefly sets out your rights and obligations in relation to variable service charges, must by law accompany a demand for service charges.

    Comment by Sara Hind — January 2, 2019 @ 11:55 am

  133. Are management companies still required by law to include a Summary Of Rights with an estate service charge payment request?

    Comment by Sye — January 1, 2019 @ 8:17 pm

  134. Take a look at our article on covenants to see if it helps – https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-buying/restrictive-covenants/

    Comment by Sara Hind — January 2, 2019 @ 11:51 am

  135. Great work. Question. We bought a house 13 years ago on an estate. They have had a management company since it was built 38 years ago.

    The estate has been adopted by the council ages ago … before we moved in … and the council maintain the roads, drains, ligts and cut grass on any verges.

    The 250 a year charge (from about 1000 houses) goes solely to fund a residents club (apparently the developer could not build houses here or some rubbish).

    The club is its own registered business with sports facilities and suites for hire, and 2e have no say in how its govermed and get treated badly when weve been because we are not part of the in crowd (which features a lot of non residents!).

    Can they still demand fees 38 years after an estate was built, purely to maintain a clubhouse we cant use? Can i challenge or extricate this charge from the deeds?

    Comment by Anonymous — January 1, 2019 @ 9:47 am

  136. Keep up the good work. Thank you.

    Comment by F E’Gruber — December 24, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

  137. Thanks Sara
    Martin

    Comment by Stockley Martin — December 15, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

  138. Hi Martin, you’ll need to ask the property lawyer who is acting on the purchase to review the title carefully (as they should do in every case). Increasingly land that appears to be “public” (in terms of accessibility) is actually privately owned – but it may only be at the point at which there are problems caused by those who are accessing it (i.e. anti social behaviour) that the owners may be entitled to do something about it.

    Comment by Sara Hind — November 27, 2018 @ 12:27 pm

  139. Read your article on Management fees with interest. We are on a new estate (freehold) and there are open spaces maintained at our expense by an Estate Management Company (ie managing agents). Part of the open space is a large ‘biodiversity area’ ownership of which is about to be transferred from the developers to the Management Company – that’s us, the residents, not the managing agents who carry out the maintenance; the residents will all be directors of the Management Company. If we the residents jointly own the land and pay for its maintenance, can we insist that it is not for the use of the public at large (there are already dog walkers from elsewhere and teenagers sussing it out)?

    Comment by Martin Stockley — November 25, 2018 @ 2:40 pm

  140. Thanks Sarah. We do continue to campaign on the Management of shared open spaces on new build estates as often councils don’t adopt them, and it is difficult to challenge these charges. If you want to take advantage of our membership services and discounts please consider joining HOA https://hoa.org.uk/homeowners-alliance-membership/ or you can become a campaign member for just £12 for the year. Otherwise, continue or read more about our campaigns on our website https://hoa.org.uk/campaigns/

    Comment by Marianne Cole — November 21, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

  141. We recently bought a new build and the service charge of £200 per year is about to kick in. Looking at what they actually maintain vs how much they charge everyone is eye watering. Our house is freehold as are (I understand) the roads, but there is a little play area and a fence managed by the company. At first we thought it was an ok idea as we can guarantee the maintenance of the area. But now I am starting to panic. I don’t u understand why the local council can’t maintain such a tiny area… keen to get involved in a petition etc if someone will have power to change it

    Comment by Sarah Baines — November 20, 2018 @ 5:53 pm

  142. Ref the post by Rebnic – I would suggest that before you purchase to ask
    someone who does not have an interest in selling you a house to look at the
    contract to ensure you are fully aware what you ‘could’ be paying in the future,
    remember it is totally open ended, the parish fund ! God knows what that is.
    If the house is Freehold then you have fewer rights than if it was leasehold, odd
    i know but true. The sale of new build private estates is akin to the ancient
    Sirens who lured unsuspecting sailors onto the rocks. Be careful.

    Comment by Simon — November 19, 2018 @ 8:56 pm

  143. If you are outraged by this whole estate charge rip off, please the HorNet campaign for compulsory adoption. Write to your MP – lots of people are doing this and the pressure is building for change. A 10 minute rule bill is shortly (Mov 14th) being tabled about estate charges which is expected to raise awareness of the issue. This could be the first step towards protecting home owners on privately owned estates.

    Comment by Cathy P — November 13, 2018 @ 6:38 am

  144. Just about to purchase a new build with help to buy freehold Miller homes. And whilst reserving today found a small box on the paperwork stating service charge. ‘Bigwood’ estimated cost 140 per year?! After reading all this I am scared!! And nervous!! I was told you could always choose another management company if your not happy if all other residents agree?! But after reading this I don’t think this is the case. This petition needs more marketing and restarting. This could be a real big problem due to the number of new houses being built at the moment. May I also add that the council tax is high and I’m also paying into a parish fund as well! Where does it stop. If the residents are paying for these areas they should be gated for our use only!! So upset!! Should I pull out. The government should not allow this to go on!!

    Comment by Rebnic — November 4, 2018 @ 3:57 pm

  145. I have now written to my MP regarding this utter nonsense and asked her to campaign about this. I may have been lucky and not purchased a new build but my children now have fewer options when they come to buy and help to buy has increased prices of all property. We must also remember that it’s not just about half yearly fees payable on the new build estates that are not due from other home owners, there is a real risk of serious financial pain, let us remember that the new build housing developments are ‘ private’ and anything that happens on them is the responsibility of the home owners…… how about the arrival of the travelling community on the open green land, fly tipping….. sink holes….. etc, who do you think pays to sort this out, not the council that is for sure. This is like an open wound and the new buyers are being sold a pup, I see no reason other than profit why a developer would keep the estate private and not have it adopted. What a shambles.

    Comment by Simon — October 17, 2018 @ 9:46 am

  146. Please can you restart the petition parliament petition. I am certain we could get more signatures via social media
    https://petition.parliament.uk/archived/petitions/165770

    Comment by Anna Finlason — October 17, 2018 @ 1:07 am

  147. We own a freehold home and have been paying management fees for the past 12 years to maintain Aqua cells (to collect water in case of flood – fortunately, we were some of the luckier ones as the land was eventually adopted by the local authority). Whilst the charge is reasonable for this maintenance the costs to maintain the cells, including the companies insurance etc, far exceeds the actual costs to the company , i am extremely frustrated also now, since needing to alter our title deeds that I am required to pay money to the management. Company as they are tied into our deeds with a restriction.
    it seems as if the management companies are in place to simply make money for providing very little service and creating more legal hoops to jump through. Management companies have clients in a sort of headlock (charging prices to create deeds of covenants and compliance certificates When changes are required or a property is sold).
    I am so disappointed and frustrated that these created companies are making money whilst providing very little (I recognise my situation is slightly different with the aqua cells (although charges are far too high to maintain them) but for those paying fees for public spaces? It’s a travesty.

    Comment by Anna Finlason — October 17, 2018 @ 12:47 am

  148. Hello Mrs Clarke, thank you for your message! Sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing but it is great that you want to do something about it. If you follow this link it will help you to start your own petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/check

    Comment by Chandni Sahni — October 23, 2018 @ 1:16 pm

  149. I have just seen that HorNet’s petition was only open for 6 months. I have only just moved to a new build and am having difficulty with the management charges because they don’t have to tell us what they are spending our money on. I now understand what the hoohar was all about because I want to do something about it all. Can another petition be started? Can I start a petition? Who starts these petitions so that the Government will take us seriously? We need far more than the 1100 or so that did sign and I think that was only because people do not know about it. The estimate of it affecting around 1/2 million is probably an under-estimate now, given the amount of building going on in the UK and it is just a licence for unscrupulous people to print money. It has to be stopped. Look forward to hearing from anyone that can help.

    Comment by Mrs Clarke — October 16, 2018 @ 10:44 pm

  150. This is a dreadful situation and they should be brought to account. My son bought a discounted new build 2 bed house through the help to buy scheme. It was discounted by 30% and when sold in the future he will sell for 30% less than the normal valuation price . not only did it cost more to buy as he had to use the recommended solicitor/building society his mortgage interest rate was higher his legal fees cost more and now he has just had the first management bill through for development maintenance service fees £400.00. How on earth are first time buyers on low income suppose to manage ? I thought the government were helping young people to get on the ladder not fall straight off it.

    Comment by Simon Corkhill — October 15, 2018 @ 11:52 am

  151. This is happening on the estate where I live in Sleaford, no cooperation from the management company, total disregard for home owners , and now they have employed another company to collect the fees.There have been three so called landscape companies used in the last 12 months all rubbish but nothing is done about it. I have taken the matter up with the local M P.

    Comment by Maurice Etherington — October 8, 2018 @ 12:11 am

  152. You Should look at Hopkins Homes Norfolk!!!! Watton

    Comment by I.Shepherd — October 3, 2018 @ 7:34 pm

  153. The admin costs on our Redrow Development in Bideford are £15k. The cost of the contract for actually doing the grass and hedge cutting is £8,800. How can this be legal?

    Comment by Lizzie Woolfenden — September 19, 2018 @ 7:08 pm

  154. I have had an interest in this unfolding disaster since i ‘ missed a bullet’ when
    i pulled out of buying a leasehold house (with svc charges) on a new build, thank
    god i did, i now own a freehold house with the land outside my house maintained
    by the local authority. This is an utter scandal and i can see a time in the very near future when there will be two types of properties for sale, those with ongoing charges
    payable to 3rd parties and those like mine which are free of such restrictions, i can
    see the values of the former being worth a lot less, it is totally unfair and these
    homeowners are being hung out to dry by this govt who are too busy doing bugger
    all about Brexit. God help them when it comes time to sell.

    Comment by Simon — September 14, 2018 @ 9:41 pm

  155. Personally, i feel that the management fee is unacceptable and authorities discriminates new home buyer. The council should reduces the council tax to match the extra estate charge for new build home as long as they are expecting new home buyers to maintain their surroundings.

    Comment by puvan — August 31, 2018 @ 8:32 pm

  156. Hi Zac, please consider becoming a member, you’ll have access to our Home Helpline team and a free legal call should you need it.

    Comment by Sara Hind — July 4, 2018 @ 3:37 pm

  157. I am really stressed about the same issue, i am in the same situation now.

    I paid the agreed amount, now they’ve sent me another letter asking for more money because there is a deficit on the account. I really do not have the money to pay this bogus service charge anymore. Is there a way round this? I am absolutely fuming because they haven’t done anything on the estate that warrant the charges. This is breaking many family up. Any advice will be appreciated.

    Comment by Zac — July 2, 2018 @ 8:13 pm

  158. Hello Mike, if you wanted to consider taking out a membership with us, one of the benefits would be a free legal call.

    Comment by Sara Hind — June 27, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

  159. I am a Councillor on South Gloucestershire Council serving on one of its development control committees. I am also,a Councillor on Yate Town Council which manages play areas and open spaces in the Town.

    I and Yate Town Council believe that all the open spaces and play areas in the Town should be managed by the Town Council including the new developments. I argue for this at Development Control however the Planning Officers say that we can not impose a condition for the developers to hand them over to the Town Council – the majority accept this “advice”.

    I would be grateful if you can give me any legal advice on the issue.

    Comment by Mike Drew — June 17, 2018 @ 10:14 pm

  160. This is a HUGE scandal waiting to burst into the mainstream.

    It affects hundreds of thousands of families in the UK!

    This story WILL be even bigger than PPI when it all becomes common knowledge.

    Comment by Liv Lee — June 5, 2018 @ 1:43 pm

  161. How is it even possible and why no one is doing anything about it, not fair trapping people into unavoidable, increasing charges. People fall for small service charge at first, but in fact they are not in any way protected from increase or have no way of challenging the fee, if you are freeholder.

    Comment by Aga — October 24, 2017 @ 11:02 am

  162. Yes. This happens.

    Comment by Andrew Smith — February 3, 2017 @ 5:16 pm

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