The Rise of ‘Hidden’ Leasehold Costs

Lawyers sound warning bell to Yorkshire homebuyers over the rise of ‘hidden’ leasehold costs.

BUYERS of leasehold properties across Yorkshire are finding themselves unable to sell and trapped in their homes because of spiralling costs they were not fully warned about, according to a leading law firm.

Milners, headquartered in Leeds with sister offices in Harrogate and Pontefract, said homeowners were being exposed to the plight in ever-increasing numbers – especially those living in new-build properties, such as city and town centre flats.

The alert comes as leasehold has jumped to be the number one concern for homeowners in the UK. In a recent survey, a record 50% of respondents identified service charges, ground rents and lease extensions as a serious or very serious concern – 10% up on last year.

Once seen as a dying relic of the Victorian property market, leasehold has undergone a resurgence since the 1990s.Twenty years ago, just 22% of new-builds in the UK were sold as leasehold, but now this has almost doubled to 43% at present. In some parts of the country, 9-in-10 new-builds are now leasehold.

Elizabeth Shaduwa, solicitor and conveyancing expert at the firm, said: “It’s an emerging theme that many lawyers involved in buying and selling homes here in Yorkshire are witnessing after purchasers have launched themselves into the process eyes wide shut.

“More and more owners of leasehold properties have ended up in an extremely unfair position of being unable to sell, leaving them ‘trapped’ in their own home – victims of rising costs they were unaware of.

“Comments from a site’s sales office do not form part of the contract between the purchaser and the developer. So it is vital that anything that purchasers wish to rely on needs to be confirmed in writing through their solicitors.

“Clients need to ensure that they are fully aware of the terms of the lease – which can be complex and written in legalese – before committing to what is one of the biggest purchases they will ever make in their lives.”

She added: “A specialist conveyancing solicitor will demystify this process, highlight any unfair clauses, and ensure purchasers fully understand their obligations under the lease; the current payments associated with the lease; and – crucially – how these will change in the future.

“We cannot stress how important it is for purchasers to understand their responsibilities before proceeding to purchase a property which could have devastating effects for them or impact on its value in the future.”

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