Taylor Wimpey compensation offer is PR con

Taylor Wimpey compensation offer is PR con, claim victims of leasehold scandal | Money | The Guardian

Taylor Wimpey compensation offer is PR con, claim victims of leasehold scandal

Jo Darbyshire outside her now almost unsaleable new-build Bolton home.

Jo Darbyshire outside her now almost unsaleable new-build home in Bolton. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd for the Guardian

Taylor Wimpey last month offered £130m to buyers trapped in new-build homes with spiralling ground rent contracts. It was a move initially greeted with glee by victims of the leasehold scandal. But as details have emerged, some householders say they will still be left paying “frankly obscene” charges.

Jo Darbyshire bought her four-bed home in Bolton in 2010 from Taylor Wimpey without realising the full implications of the 999-year leasehold contract, which allowed the freeholder to double the £295 ground rent every 10 years. Only when a neighbour’s house sale fell through – because a mortgage company rejected the ground rent clause – did Darbyshire discover her home had been rendered potentially unsaleable.

When she inquired about buying the freehold, things went from bad to worse. Without her knowledge, Taylor Wimpey had sold the freehold to Adriatic Land at a price understood to be £7,375 for each of the 24 homes on the estate. Neighbours who have since tried to buy the freehold say they have been met with demands of £45,000-£50,000 – a huge amount compared to the £200,000 that some of the smaller homes on the estate currently fetch.

The ground rent company also demands £100 from householders who request a quote to buy the freehold. They also require that any householder wanting to make alterations – such as building a small extension – also pay a fee. “A neighbour wanted to build a small extension and was quoted £3,000 before a brick was laid,” says Darbyshire.

But Taylor Wimpey’s compensation offer has left her deeply frustrated. It offered a “deed of variation … specifically incorporating materially less expensive ground rent review terms”. It is understood the deal will involve the ground rent rising in line with inflation rather than doubling every decade.

Darbyshire says it still leaves her in the clutches of a ground rent company and what she alleges are its “exorbitant charges”. In an open letter to Taylor Wimpey chief executive, Peter Redfern, Darbyshire says: “You seem to believe the only wrongdoing is the introduction of doubling ground rents. The real scandal is the onward sale of ALL freeholds … to investment companies, and the consequences to us … Did you know that, once the freeholds were sold on, that Adriatic would introduce exorbitant charges for alterations and increase the cost of buying the freehold significantly?”

Darbyshire says Taylor Wimpey should be offering homebuyers the chance to buy the freehold at the price originally offered when the estate was built. Her letter adds: “The only acceptable way forwards is for you to reinstate me to the position I would have been in had your sales people, and the solicitor you recommend I use, informed me fully at the point of sale, when I would have purchased my freehold for £5,900.”

Darbyshire is not alone. Sean Greenwood, who Guardian Money featured last November when we first revealed the extent of the ground rent scandal, says the construction giant should refund the £101,000 cost of the apartment his wife bought in Gornal on the edge of Dudley. We highlighted how one apartment had received a “nil valuation” from a mortgage company because of the doubling ground rents.

Greenwood has also written to Redfern, saying: “My wife would still like a full refund. Unfortunately, your most recent offer to change the ground rent review to RPI is unacceptable. We are worried our freeholder maintains the position of power in all negotiations relating to our freehold.

“We are also not willing to wait for the time period it will take to complete the change in the deed. We have been trying to sell for over a year and a combination of the doubling ground rent lease and the collapse of the wall in our car park has meant we cannot sell.”

More than 4,000 people have joined a Facebook group, the National Leasehold Campaign, to protest over ground rent issues and excessive charges, with complaints directed not just at Taylor Wimpey but at other major developers, including Persimmon and Bellway.

Last week, Nationwide told the construction giants it would no longer offer mortgages on new-build properties with short leases or, crucially, where the ground rent is more than 0.1% of the value of the home.

In a statement, Redfern said: “This is about doing what we think is right. We recognise the concerns and difficulties that some of our customers have faced as a result of their doubling leases and we are sorry for the worry this has caused. Although we are under no legal obligation to take action, we want to help our customers.

“We are working hard with the freeholders to convert our customers’ doubling leases to ones that are significantly less expensive … and which resolve concerns around how easy it is to sell or get a mortgage. Taylor Wimpey will cover the cost of converting the leases.

“These leases were put in place between 2007 and 2011 at a time when economic conditions were very different. We stopped using them on sites commenced after 2011.”

The company makes clear that the £130m should not be viewed as compensation, as the sale of the leases was legal, and that it has not been obliged to take action. It suggests that the aim of its Ground Rent Review Assistance Scheme is to address saleability and mortgageability rather than pay compensation.

Leeds Housing Survey: Do YOU need a home?

Please read this article and complete the Leeds City Council Survey form

HOUSING NEEDS SURVEY – NOW ON-LINE – PLEASE COMPLETE ASAP

We previously advised that Leeds City Council (LCC) were to embark on a Strategic Housing Market Assessment and that an important element of this was a Housing Needs Survey.  Some  people in Aireborough will have received a postal survey, but the majority will not.  However, the Council is fully aware that the response rate to surveys is generally not very good and as a result has placed the survey on-line for ALL residents to be able to respond.  The survey is now on-line and can be found here.   Therefore, all Aireborough residents are strongly urged to complete the survey and you never know, by completing the survey you may win a prize, alternatively, a significant return will equate to an accurate figure of housing need and may well influence the LCC in reducing its 70,000 housing target.

PS  there is an ID box and postcode box at the start of the survey, but you only need to fill in your postcode.

“Allotment Planning Application Alert”

This organisation strongly supports the actions of Silverdale Action Group to protect this historic site

HISTORIC WORLD WAR ONE “WELLBEING” ALLOTMENTS UNDER THREAT

Residents are fighting to preserve the historic “wellbeing legacy” allotment site in the middle of Silverdale Estate in Guiseley. Silverdale Allotments were bought by the Park Gate Allotment Society in 1921 from local philanthropist Jonathan Peate as part of a self-help movement to improve the health of the nation post World War One. Now developer Stonebridge Homes have submitted a planning application for 46 houses on the majority of the allotments, at the behest of some of the allotment owners; well before the future of this and other green sites in Aireborough are decided by a Planning Inspector at public hearings.

Roger Davis said “Our allotment has been in our family for nearly 60 years; over the years, some of the surrounding allotments have been bought by people wanting to build on the land and they’ve left the land derelict, rather than let them be tended. In the past, there was a thriving community with people growing vegetables, keeping pigeons, chickens and even pigs! We are very worried for the future of our smallholding if the development goes ahead, along with the problem it is likely to cause with flooding in nearby gardens – the land hereabouts is very wet, and many neighbours already have pumps to cope with water in their garden”

The Silverdale Allotments, which are approaching the centenary of their optimistic post WW1 inauguration, were cleared of vegetation by Stonebridge in 2015 and surrounded by steel fencing in preparation for a planning application; much to the dismay of local residents. The surrounding area, including, Roger’s smallholding, has since experienced exacerbated flooding, despite a relatively dry winter. Roger says “it is heart breaking to see the land as it is when there’s a huge waiting list for public Allotments which is why Silverdale Action Group in conjuction with  Aireborough  Neighbourhood Development Forum,  submitted a plan to Leeds City Council to have the allotments designated as Green Space” If the owners don’t want to work the allotments they should be rented out to those who do, or sold to either LCC or a Community Trust. This could bring them back to the thriving, growing heart of the Silverdale estate rather than the eyesore it has become.

The recent city wide Site Allocations Plan (SAP) proposed that the site be split 50:50 with half being given over to allotments and half for up to 32 houses. But, this has to be agreed as the right thing to do for the community as a whole by a Planning Inspector; Stonebridge are trying to jump the gun before the Planning Inspector can look at the full details of the situation.

Local householder Phil Dawson added, “We are concerned for the future of Silverdale if this application goes ahead. The estate already has huge access issues, which have been shown up in road works on Park Road this year, when people found it difficult to get to and from their homes. In addition, Yorkshire Water has indicated that existing sewers are close to capacity. I don’t see how this development can go ahead without the sewers overflowing. Leaving the allotments as the “wellbeing” legacy for future generations that they were intended to be, would be the best for the area; we’d like the opportunity to put this to the Planning Inspector”.

Local residents have until the 28th April to respond to the planning application. Details can be found on the Planning Public Access web site.

Planning Application;        17/01262/FU

For; Erection of 46 dwelling, including new access road and associated landscaping.

If you are concerned that this development is in the wrong place, write to LCC planning Department include the application number, your name and address to; Mrs. Carol Cunningham, Planning Services, Leonardo Building, 2, Rossington Street, Leeds.   LS2 8HD. Or email; planning@leeds.gov.uk

Background

The land for the Silverdale Allotments (Coach Road Allotments) was acquired in 1921 by Park Gate Allotment Society Ltd. The 5.5 acres of land was bought from Jonathan Peate of Nunroyd House at a cost of £1,588 on a hire purchase agreement. It made 24 plots of 1020 yards long each. The society was the sixth allotment society established in Aireborough following the First World War when land for the improvements of the wellbeing of soldiers and the population in general was deemed necessary by Lloyd George’s Government. The first sod was dug in early February 1921 by Mr. John Rhodes of Micklefield House, Rawdon, a textile manufacturer, and philanthropic nephew of Jonathan Peate, followed by a tea provided by the Silver Badge Café at White Cross, run by ex-soldiers and an evening dance. The allotments were private, as self-help and independence was felt to be a better way of managing them than through the Local Council, and security of tenure was important for the allotment holders themselves in managing the land. The holders could keep small livestock including rabbits, poultry, bees and goats. The allotment holders paid 4s a week each for seven years to obtain the freehold of the land. The first local allotment group under the scheme was formed in 1917 for the Shaw Lane allotments, the land for which cost £1,700. With some schemes it was possible to build one house on each plot once the land had been bought, with the idea of it being a cultivated smallholding.

“AT LAST! DCLG reply to WARD letter of complaint re Bradford LDF

The following letter was received from the DCLG as a result of WARD’s complaint about Inspector Stephen Pratt’s re-write of modifications to the Bradford LDF.  Unfortunately, this says very little and WARD can only hope that our follow-up letter (also see below) will serve to fully support Philip Davis’s success in obtaining a ‘hold’ on the Bradford LDF so that planning ministers can consider carefully whether or not the Bradford LDF should be considered unsound and called in by the DCLG Minister Sajid Javid.
Dr David Ingham
Chairman
WARD”
min-reply
ward-letter-2