Sun, Sea, Sand and Shocking Ground Rents
There is one thing that irritates me about the period between Christmas and Easter. It is not the weather. Nor is it the January sales. It is not even the long spell without a bank holiday.
It seems to me that no sooner have I had the last mouthful of my turkey curry on Boxing Day that I am bombarded by adverts for holidays. Beautiful images of turquoise waters, delicious food and golden sands seem to be everywhere.
One of the things we have come to accept when booking our holiday, courtesy of a budget airline, are flight add-ons.
When I booked my little get away I found myself paying extra for a suitcase, an in-flight meal, insurance, extra-leg room, the list goes on. The thought struck me that this is one of the only things I ever buy where I know the final price is never going to be the final price.
However for many homeowners in England in Wales that is exactly what they are facing – additional payments on their homes, in some cases years after they completed the transaction, thanks to shocking ground rents.
In recent years large property developers have been building housing estates and selling their shiny new houses on long leases. Now leasehold houses are nothing new, nor are they something to shy away from but the issue here is the ground rent. You would normally expect to pay a minimal fee in annual ground rent to the freehold owner of the house or the estate, but here the property developers are incorporating onerous review provisions in their leases so that the ground rents rise exponentially.
A prime example of this was a recent case of mine. The client had purchased a new home in 2006. The ground rent had begun at a low amount, below £250 per annum. The rent however was to be reviewed every ten years and would double upon each review, by the fourth rent review the annual ground rent would be £4,000 pa.
So what do you need to be aware of?
Well if you bought a new build property after 2000, my advice would be to review your lease. If you find yourself with a doubling rent clause then seek the advise of an solicitor who has expertise in this area of law.
They will be able to advise you on the best course of action and about acquiring your freehold
Whilst we may have to live a little longer being subjected to surprise payments on flights to the sun, sea and sand, there is no reason why you should endure surprise payments because of shocking ground rents.
Harriet specialises in leasehold enfranchisement.