Unfair Ground Rent Charges on Leasehold Properties

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Our Solicitor, Mark Cosgrove, specialises in property negligence claims and represents many clients who have suffered losses on home and other property purchases. Read more about Mark or contact him here.

Read more about Mark or contact him here

Is This You?

  • Are you paying ground rent for a new build home you bought?
  • Are you facing significant increases to the amount paid as ground rent under the terms of a leasehold property agreement?
  • Has the cost of purchasing the freehold to your property risen drastically in a short period of time?
  • Are you facing difficulties in selling your leasehold property due to future increases in ground rents or the inability to purchase the freehold?
  • Did your conveyancing solicitor fail to advise you of rising ground rents and other costs before you committed to the purchase of your leasehold property?
We are writing to say how happy we are with the way your company dealt with our claim. We found your website while searching online and we have found your company to be very approachable and helpful throughout Mr & Mrs Deramchia

If any of these apply to you, then you may have grounds for bringing a no win, no fee claim. We may be able to offer you assistance in obtaining compensation for your financial losses.

Please call Neglect Assist for free, no obligation advice on 0800 152 2620 or fill in the form and we’ll call you back.

Who Are We?

We are an award-winning team of solicitors who specialise in professional negligence claims. We use our many years of experience and knowledge in this area to obtain and scrutinize relevant documents from property developers, solicitors or other conveyancing practitioners and their insurers. Using our specialist knowledge of the law of contract and negligence we identify any grounds for action. We submit written complaints, detailing every allegation and are successful in most of our cases.

 

How Much Am I Entitled To?

If you can prove that you have suffered a financial loss due to the negligent advice or actions of a property developer, solicitor or conveyancing practitioner, you can look to recover an amount of money that fully covers the level of your losses.

The amount awarded should put you in the position that you would have been in had no wrong been done.

What Do We Charge?

We offer an absolute and guaranteed No Win, No Fee agreement, it’s that simple. If successful, we take a fee of up to 20% (plus 4% VAT) * Of the award of compensation. If unsuccessful, our clients pay us nothing.

* We reserve the right to apply a deduction in more complex or higher risk cases of up to 30% plus VAT. Typical examples might be where there are multiple parties to claim against, where time limits for claiming may have passed or new areas of law are tested.

About Claims for Unfair Charges On Leasehold Properties

When a property is sold as leasehold, the purchaser is buying a legal right to occupy and use a property for a defined period of time, which is ordinarily anywhere between 99 years and 999 years.

The purchaser does not acquire ownership to the land the property is built upon. This is known as the freehold. The person or company who owns the freehold commonly charges the leaseholder an annual ground rent.

The terms stipulating how much the ground rent will be and how often this will be reviewed or increased are governed by a legal contract which the leaseholder enters into when purchasing the property.

It is therefore vitally important that the purchaser of a leasehold property is made fully aware as to how much the ground rent will cost, how often this will increase, and the amount it will increase by.

Problems have been encountered in recent years by spiralling ground rents that the leasehold purchaser was not made adequately aware of at the time they purchased the property. There are some instances where ground rents can double every ten years.

This can lead to situations where the ground rent can become excessive and unsustainable. In several cases, for example, the ground rent on new homes bought for £200,000 will rise to £10,000 per year by 2050.

As well as leaving owners of such leasehold properties facing considerable, ongoing annual costs, this also has the potential to cause owners great difficulties in selling their property in the future. The attractiveness of a property to any potential buyer will likely decrease once the level of ground rent due to be paid each year is disclosed or discovered.

Some lenders may also refuse to give a mortgage on properties with ground rent clauses which they consider to be excessive. This would greatly reduce the pool of potential buyers because a sale may only then be possible if a buyer who did not require a mortgage to fund the purchase could be found. It is estimated that there are currently 100,000 leasehold owners who face this problem.

The vast majority of property purchases will proceed using the services of a Conveyancing Solicitor. A professional duty of care is owed by the Solicitor to the purchaser, as their client.

If the Solicitor fails to properly inform a leasehold purchaser of the true level of initial and future costs under the terms of a leasehold contract, then they may be considered to have breached their duty of care owed and to have acted in a negligent fashion.

In such situations you may have grounds for bringing a no win, no fee claim for compensation. Solicitors will typically have indemnity insurance or other adequate funds to cover the cost of such claims.

If you feel you were not adequately informed by your Solicitor on the cost and future costs of ground rent payments under the terms of a leasehold contract, or if you are experiencing difficulties in selling a leasehold property due to ground rent levels, then please contact us on 0800 152 2620 for free and without obligation advice.

Increased costs to purchase the Freehold

Some leasehold properties, particularly new builds, may be sold on the understanding that it will be possible for the purchaser to buy the freehold in the future at a competitive rate. If this can be achieved, it would avoid the need for the payment of future ground rents because the purchaser would then own both the property and the ground beneath it.

However, a problem can arise if the owner of the freehold then subsequently sells this to a third party who could then ask for a much higher price from the leasehold owner on any future sale.

This has become increasingly common in more recent years where property developers sell a new build property as leasehold and retain the freehold themselves. In some instances, they will then sell the freehold to an investment firm, who will then demand a significantly increased price for any future sale to the leaseholder.

There are examples where the cost to purchase the freehold has trebled in less than 12 months following the sale from a property developer to an investment company. In the majority of cases, the leaseholder is not informed of the proposed sale beforehand and they are therefore denied the opportunity to purchase at the lower asking rate set by the property developer.

Several New Home developers have set aside compensation funds to assist victims with the purchase of freeholds.

In recent years, property developers have encouraged or insisted upon the use of a particular firm of Solicitors by the purchaser to process the property transaction. The developer may even offer to cover the legal fees involved if a certain firm is instructed on the matter.

This can raise concerns as to whether the firm acting on the transaction are providing a wholly independent service. It has been suggested that the advice and service of a Solicitor could potentially be influenced by the fact they may receive future referrals from a particular developer.

A Solicitor should ensure that they provide a leasehold purchaser with sufficient information to enable them to make an informed decision before committing to the purchase of the property.

If they fail to properly advise on the future possibility of purchasing the freehold, and the potential costs of acquiring this, they may be considered to have acted negligently and you may be entitled to claim compensation for you losses.

If you have been affected by significant increases to the costs of purchasing the freehold to your property, then please contact us for assistance.

For free, without obligation advice on your options please call Mark or any of the Professional Negligence team on 0800 152 2620 or fill in the form and we will call you back at a convenient time.

FAQs

What do we charge?

We offer an absolute and guaranteed No Win, No Fee agreement, it’s that simple. If successful, we take a fee of up to 20% (plus 4% VAT)* of the award of compensation. If unsuccessful, our clients pay us nothing.

* We reserve the right to apply a deduction in more complex or higher risk cases of up to 30% plus VAT. Typical examples might be where there are multiple parties to claim against, where time limits for claiming may have passed or new areas of law are tested.

What if my claim has already been rejected?

We will still look at this for you.

Will I have to fill out loads of paperwork?

No, we will be able to do most of the necessary paperwork for you and we can obtain any relevant documents on your behalf. You will have to check the details of your claim before it is submitted, but we will assist you with this.

What do I do now?

Call us on 0800 152 2620 email us. There is absolutely no obligation to proceed and if you tell us what’s happened, we will briefly explain if we think you have a claim and the procedure for filing a claim and the time limits that apply.

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