BUYER beware – that’s the message from Redditch househunter Gemma Lynch after discovering the home of her dreams came with an annual uncapped ground management fee.
“It’s quite scary – what has really thrown me is that you can get so far down the process of buying a home – will they even tell you about it?” said Gemma, from Lakeside.
Gemma and her husband James say they were lucky, having checked on the questions you should ask when buying a new home before signing on the dotted line, but she fears some may not realise until it is too late.
“Originally we were interested in a Redrow home in Webheath and then we fell in love with a David Wilson Homes house at Abbey Gate behind the Alexandra Hospital.
“They told us our home had to be on the market and have an offer in on it and as soon as that was the case we could make a reservation.
“We did just that, received an offer and we went down three times and even talked of putting in extras in the kitchen and flooring.
“At no time did anyone alert us that there was a hidden charge.”
The charge is a management fee, usually run by a third party and comes from a covenant on the deeds which makes householders legally obliged to pay for the upkeep of unadopted areas of the site.
While local authorities generally adopt the roads, due to cash constraints, they do not have to adopt grassed areas on an estate, unless paid to do so.
“Once the contractors are off site the management company will then kick in and each household will have to pay, in our case £120 a year,” said Gemma.
“I told the sales staff they should have been more transparent and said I didn’t want to proceed, because once you have signed you cannot legally get out of paying the fees.”
The management fee practice, now quite common with new build sites, has been branded as ‘fleeceholding’ by campaigners.
The campaign group Home Owners Rights Network (HorNet) estimates 87,000 households nationwide are in dispute with management firms with many homeowners believing they had been mis-sold their properties.
Dominic Harman, managing director at David Wilson Homes Mercia, said: “All of the homes at Abbey Gate are freehold but as the local authority have confirmed they are unable to adopt the communal areas and green spaces, these need to be maintained by a management company.
“This is made clear at the point of reservation and throughout the home buying process, both to our customers and to their independent legal advisors.”
For more on HorNet visit https://www.homeownersrights.net/