Tasha and Nathan Stewart from Cambridgeshire have had their dream home turn into a nightmare after discovering a “catch” in the small print of their contract.
This young couple recently found out that the constructors of their house have included a clause that doubles their ground rent every decade, making it almost impossible for the pair to ever sell their house.
This article has originally appeared on Ladbible.
“We put our detached coach house on the market in October 2017 and the sale was agreed at £175,000 pretty quickly,” disclosed Nathan, a 27-year-old marketing manager.
Everything was going smoothly and we were ready to exchange contracts, but the buyer’s solicitor asked for a sales pack from the ground rent company and uncovered the clause. The solicitor told us the majority of mortgage companies won’t lend on it, so I quickly contacted Taylor Wimpey to ask them to do something, because otherwise I would lose the four-bed semi we were buying. They did nothing, the sale fell through and I lost about £2,500.”
When the young couple bought the house in 2014, the ground rent was £150 ( $212 ) but the clause in the contract made it expensive for anyone to buy it. And in a decade the £150 ( $212 ) will become £300 ( $425) and will keep rising until £4,800. ($ 6 807)
“Some people were quite unsympathetic and said we were idiots for not knowing, but our solicitor never told us about the ground rent,” continued the marketing manager. “I’m not a legal professional so I’m not familiar with this kind of thing. I trusted our solicitor to lead us right. He never made us aware of it. I want to make it clear that the people affected by this probably won’t have any legal knowledge. So they rely on the word of their solicitor.”
Taylor Wimpey, the building company, sold the freehold for the land to Fairthatch GR Ltd as an investment.
“I got in touch with Fairthatch to ask them to help, but they won’t change the leasehold terms – they own the land and can do whatever they want,” said Nathan.
“Taylor Wimpey sold the freehold to them to make more money because they are greedy. Doing this should be illegal. It’s completely unethical. I feel they don’t care about how this affects people because they’ve got their money. They are sitting on a gold mine. I thought they would back down and help me but they haven’t.
“Neither Tasha or I have any objection to paying ground rent. But what has left us and thousands of homeowners upset and angry is that the unethical doubling ground rent terms in the lease have meant selling our house is near impossible and that at no stage were we ever made aware such terms were in place or would cause such a scenario.
“Homeowners like us who are looking to build family homes are now left helpless, being exploited by greed, with no solution or end in site.”
“Last year Taylor Wimpey announced a voluntary scheme specifically aimed at addressing concerns raised by some of our direct customers regarding how easy it is to sell or get a mortgage on properties with a 10-year doubling ground rent clause,” disclosed a spokeswoman for Taylor Wimpey.
“We have now reached agreements with freeholders to enable the significant majority of our customers with a 10-year doubling lease to convert their ground rent terms to an RPI-based structure, should the customer wish to do so.
“These agreements address concerns about the saleability and mortgageability of these properties, by making the ground rents much more affordable,” she continued
“Similar to all major housebuilders, on developments where homes are sold on a leasehold basis. Taylor Wimpey has always sold its underlying freehold interests. This is because the administrative structures needed to manage a portfolio of freehold interests are very different to a housebuilder’s core business.”