Residents with leasehold homes say they were ‘misled’ by developer
PUBLISHED: 09:16 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:39 27 February 2020
Customers who say they were mis-sold homes through contentious leasehold agreements are demanding the housebuilder gives them freeholds.
They say developer Persimmon Homes assured them all dwellings on Bluebell Meadow - an estate in Bradwell - would be leasehold but that the firm later sold freehold properties.
Residents on leasehold contracts pay out £150 annually in ground rent, reviewed every 10 years, while the leases last for 999 years. For freehold they own it outright.
Paul Brown, 49, who has lived on the estate since December 2016, says the impact of buying a leasehold property was "not fully explained".
"We were always told the whole site would be leasehold, whereas every phase apart from phase one is freehold," he says.
One consequence is the difficulty of selling such a property, he says.
"If you want to sell your house it makes it hard because some banks will not give a mortgage for a leasehold house."
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Mike Merrill, 40, who moved to Bluebell Meadow almost four years ago, considers the situation "bizarre".
"On phase one all the properties are leasehold and phase two and three are on exactly the same piece of land and by the same developer but are all freehold," he says.
"I can physically touch a property from my rear garden that is on phase two which is freehold whereas mine is leasehold, which is crazy.
"If I knew phase two was going to be freehold, I would have hung on," he says.
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Anglia has said the company sells a mixture of both leasehold and freehold properties and that customers are "informed at purchase what type of property they are buying".
Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth and former housing minister, calls the practice of selling houses with "unnecessary" leasehold contracts "unscrupulous".
"That's why the Government has taken action and is continuing with a raft of measures intended to restrict this practice and strengthen the positions of owners of leasehold properties," he said.
Last September Persimmon's CEO David Jenkinson wrote a letter to Mr Lewis, dismissing allegations the residents were mis-sold their homes.
Persimmon came under pressure last year to scrap all of its leasehold contracts following an out-of-court settlement over alleged mis-selling at a development in Cardiff.