Persimmon in the deep, deep manure yet again on leasehold houses

“Persimmon is heading for a bitter showdown with families who claim the housebuilder mis-sold them homes on toxic leasehold deals.

Hundreds of its customers bought leasehold houses and now claim they are trapped by ratcheting rent bills that have made it impossible to sell.

But the company, which is the UK’s most profitable developer, is playing hardball and has told desperate customers that it ‘does not accept’ their complaints.

Along with other developers, Persimmon has been banned from selling leasehold houses after a public outcry.

Persimmon and others were accused of charging extortionate ground rents, some of which rose dramatically over time, along with a raft of hidden charges.

Leaseholders effectively buy the right to live in a property for an agreed period, rather than ownership of it outright.

However, an inquiry by MPs earlier this year found that many leaseholders did not appear to have fully understood the deal.

In a recent row with Cardiff council, Persimmon was accused of mis-selling leasehold homes. It offered residents the freeholds to their properties at no charge as part of an out-of-court settlement.

Campaigners now argue all its leasehold customers across the country should receive similar compensation.

But in a letter sent to customers and seen by the Mail, the company rejected claims householders were misled.

It claimed staff would have explained the terms of the homes to customers during the sales process, that their solicitor should have advised them about it and that mortgage lenders would have also assessed the property at the time.

A separate survey by the Solicitors Regulation Authority also found one fifth of people sold leasehold properties were not even told the difference between leasehold and freehold homes.

MPs called for an investigation into possible mis-selling. They lambasted solicitors for being too cosy with developers and failing to warn clients about the rip-off deals.

Following their report, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe.

Sir Gary Streeter, Tory MP for South West Devon, accused the firm of telling ‘blatant’ lies to leaseholders in Plymouth, part of his constituency, during the sales process.

A Persimmon spokesman insisted the decision to ‘gift’ ownership to leaseholders in Cardiff was ‘not to do with the mis-selling of leasehold properties’, adding: ‘We firmly dispute the fact that the customers were not aware the properties were being sold on a leasehold basis.

Any suggestion that the decision by Persimmon to gift the freeholds was in relation to mis-selling of leaseholds is false and misleading.’

‘All customers buying leasehold properties are informed by the sales team at the time of purchase that the properties are leasehold and not freehold.’

‘It feels like we have been tricked’

Grandparents Noelle and Alf Lutton bought their five-bedroom home three years ago for £250,000 – but they have still been asking for problems to be fixed

Noelle and Alf Lutton claim the punitive terms of their leasehold home were not made clear to them by Persimmon.

The grandparents bought their five-bedroom home three years ago for £250,000 – but they have still been asking for problems to be fixed.

In addition, they face having to pay £150 in ground rent every year – a rate that increases every decade – and must fork out so-called ‘permission fees’ of £250 if they want to make even minor changes to the property.

They claim they were never told they would have to pay these charges. Former customer services worker Mrs Lutton, 75, says the couple had always previously lived in freehold properties but were not given that option when buying their current home in Market Deeping, near Peterborough.

Instead, they say a Persimmon sales representative verbally promised they could buy the freehold for ‘a couple of hundred pounds’ two years after the initial sale.

But Persimmon later quoted them a price of £3,750. And although it later reduced this to £500, the company insists they would still have to pay permission fees even if they now acquired the freehold.

‘Had we known then what we know now, we would never have bought the property,’ Mrs Lutton said. ‘We weren’t told about any of the fees we would have to pay. It feels like we have been tricked.’

A Persimmon spokesman said: ‘The details of the ground rent, associated fees and covenants were included within the contract and documentation at the time of purchase.

‘Following completion, Mr and Mrs Lutton raised a number of snagging issues with their property. The last one of these is due to be addressed shortly.’ “

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-7560423/Housebuilder-Persimmon-fresh-row-toxic-leases.html?ito=rss-flipboard

“Persimmon faces wave of claims that it mis-sold properties with toxic leaseholds”

“Britain’s most profitable housebuilder faces a flood of claims that it mis-sold toxic leasehold properties.

Persimmon made ‘deliberate misrepresentations’ when selling homes on leases, MPs and families say.

They are calling on the developer, which made a £1.1billion profit last year and handed former boss Jeff Fairburn a bonus of £75million, to surrender full ownership of the properties to compensate buyers said to have been misled.

The demands erupted after Persimmon backed down in a court battle over allegations of mis-selling.

In an out-of-court settlement reached last month with Cardiff council, Persimmon agreed to give leaseholders in the St Edeyrns development outright ownership of their properties as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

The defeat has been seized on by campaigners, who say leaseholders across the UK should get similar compensation.

And it comes as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) probes claims that housebuilders may have mis-sold leases.

Katie Kendrick, of the National Leasehold Campaign, said: ‘We are hopeful that the CMA and others can now use this example to build a future mis-selling case on behalf of leaseholders.’

A lease grants the right to live in a property for an agreed period, not ownership of it outright. Leaseholders can face extortionate ground rents and fees to make small changes.

The Cardiff case has led leaseholders in Plymouth and Cheltenham to demand they get similar treatment.

Sir Gary Streeter, Tory MP for South West Devon, has warned Persimmon that he will report it to trading standards, complain to ministers and shame it in Parliament if it does not agree.

Persimmon has so far rejected suggestions it should offer similar deals.

A spokesman last night said of the Cardiff case: ‘We firmly dispute the fact that the customers were not aware the properties were being sold on a leasehold basis.’ “

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-7487335/Persimmon-faces-wave-claims-mis-sold-properties-toxic-leaseholds.html

“Property giants pay bosses £63m while ‘exacerbating housing crisis’ by sitting on enough land for 470,000 homes”

“Property giants have been accused of rewarding bosses for “exacerbating the housing crisis” after spending £63.6m on chief executive pay last year while sitting on more than 470,000 unused plots of land.

The chief executives of Britain’s 10 biggest housing developers raked in a combined £63.6m, earning a median sum of £2.1m, according to figures compiled by the High Pay Centre. Four FTSE 100 companies handed £53.2m to their top bosses in total, a median pay packet of £5.7m.

The 10 firms completed and sold 86,685 homes last year, but hold planning permission for 470,068 other plots of land on which homes have not been built. The UK needs an estimated 340,000 new homes a year to meet demand.

Councils have repeatedly complained of developers taking longer to build on sites which have been earmarked for housing, with the Local Government Association calling for powers that would allow local authorities to seize unused land.

The High Pay Centre said its findings raised questions about whether executives “should receive such vast sums of money, particularly given the many criticisms levelled at the big housing developers regarding the extent to which they are exacerbating the housing crisis”.

Luke Hildyard, the think tank’s director, told The Independent: “Homes are a public good and housing companies are charged with quite an important social responsibility. If the housing companies don’t play their part in delivering enough homes then we have real problems.

“There is something particularly unseemly about people who are supposed to be providing a public good raking in millions or even tens of millions.”

The 10 companies, which are all FTSE 350-listed, paid a combined £150m to chief executives and other directors last year. The four FTSE 100 house-builders – Barratt, Berkeley, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey – accounted for £131.1m of that sum.

The average UK construction worker is paid £24,964 a year, 89 times less than the median pay packet of the 10 housebuilders’ chief executives, according to the union Unite.

The pay disparity was greatest at Persimmon, where chief executive Jeff Fairburn earned £39m – equivalent to the average pay of 1,561 construction workers – last year. He was forced out of the firm in late 2018 after a public outcry over his £75m bonus.

The pay ratio between Berkeley’s chief executive and the average construction worker was 331:1, at Taylor Wimpey it was 126:1, and at Barratt it was 113:1.

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Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh, who cited the figures during a debate in parliament on Thursday, said the “vast scale of inequality” showed “the British housebuilding industry is broken”.

She added: “In the midst of a national housing crisis, how can it be right, just or fair, for the top housebuilding CEOs to walk away with such astronomical sums while there are workers are seeing their salaries stagnate?

“These companies have a land bank of a simply staggering 470,068 plots but completed just 86,685 homes between them. Is that really a record worth rewarding?”

Barratt, Berkeley and Taylor Wimpey all declined to comment.

Persimmon did not respond to a request for comment.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/property-developers-housing-crisis-homebuilding-chief-executive-pay-ftse-100-a9093676.html