Peakland Grange, Hartington – Buyer Beware!
Buying a new house in the Peak District is pretty difficult. The few new houses are built on brownfield sites because planning approval is impossible elsewhere. So, when new houses were advertised in Hartington with an energy rating of A, what’s not to like. The agent finally called us to view two of the 26 properties on the site, which was the creamery location before it was closed. The construction firm, Amos Group Ltd, advertise this ‘as a stunning development of new individual homes in the heart of the Peak District’. The properties were impressive and so you are wondering why I write, Peakland Grange, Hartington – buyer beware!
After selecting one of the properties, we had a number of questions not covered in the brochure. Were the roads adopted? Who was going to maintain the shrubs and trees being planted? The responses, worryingly, made mention of a service fee at around £300 in year one. After returning home, the agent sent us a copy of the relevant land registry document. This document had to be signed by the buyer. It ran to about 25 pages of legal jargon which was difficult to understand. Although purporting to cover grounds maintenance, there was reference to infrastructure like roads, drains and street lamps. The roads, it appears, are not adopted by the county council.
Sign on the dotted line
It appears that where such agreements are signed, the freehold position is compromised for ever. The annual fee can be increased without reference to the householder. Worse, that no standards apply and the company are legally given the last say in all matters and without appeal. Consequently, mortgages are already being refused where these contracts exist. The service charge, entirely within the control of the company, can never be deleted. It has to be passed down to any purchasers of the property. As you can imagine, we walked away from the purchase. However, a number of homes have already been sold and occupied. The estate agent assured us they were happy with their purchase but do they understand the implications?
Peakland Grange, Hartington – buyer beware!
A quick search on Google identified this as an issue of concern in Parliament. In goes on with many new build houses all over the UK. That word we house owners all desire, the moniker, freehold, was renamed ‘fleecehold’. This is a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, number 8497 and dated the 15 October 2020 by Wendy Wilson. It suggests that government will draft the necessary legislation to give freeholders power to control such agreements. However, not until a window of opportunity arises. I sent a letter to my MP and I have yet to receive a reply. However, as decrepit pensioners, we rather pride ourselves in having avoided signing such a contract. Enjoy the Peak District walks but never sign one of these contracts.