The Welsh Government is planning to address the practice of charging freeholders fees for maintenance and services on their estates, and is calling on people across Wales to share their experiences.
Currently, owners of freehold homes can be charged fees on housing developments where open spaces and facilities are not adopted by their Local Authority. Leaseholders and tenants may also be subject to the fees, through their service charges.
The Welsh Government is today calling on residents, developers, local authorities and interested professionals to submit evidence on how the system operates.
The decision to purchase a property should always be informed by a good understanding of the implications of the ownership status, and the likely ongoing costs and responsibilities, early in the purchase process.
To ensure that, the Minister is also looking at what may be done to improve the awareness of leasehold and estate charges among buyers.
Housing Minister, Julie James said:
I have heard from many residents who have had a poor experience of these charges, either finding out at a late stage during purchase that they exist, being faced with steeply escalating demands, or being unable to challenge what they perceive as poor value for money or inadequate service in return for the charges.
I am concerned that we address this practice. However, I am aware of the wide variation in practice, and the lack of firm evidence on which to base our actions.
This is why I am asking everyone who has experience of dealing with estate charges to contribute to our call for evidence on the issue. I would encourage respondents to also consider what improvements may help to address their concerns with the current system, so that any actions we may choose to take are rooted in people’s experience.
This is an important step in our work to understand the situation faced by many homeowners and residents.
The Call for Evidence will run for 12 weeks and can be found here: https://gov.wales/estate-charges-housing-developments