Shock figures reveal scale of leasehold sales of homes in the borough

More than half of the house sales in the borough last year were leasehold
More than half of the house sales in the borough last year were leasehold

The borough had some of the highest proportions of leasehold sales of homes in the entire country last year, shock figures reveal.

Three parliamentary constituencies within the area all feature in the top 20 in England and Wales for the percentage of houses where purchasers get a long lease rather than owning it outright.

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In Makerfield 56 per cent of all homes sold in 2018 had leasehold arrangements, the eighth-highest figure.

Leigh came just below in 10th, although its overall figure was also 56 per cent, while Wigan was 15th with half of all houses being sold with leaseholds last year.

The Government has so far failed to ban the sale of leasehold houses, despite promising to do so when the ground rents scandal left 100,000 people across the country unable to sell their properties.

However, the Labour Party has now said it would completely forbid the policy in a move which has drawn support from local MPs.

They spoke of the serious issues residents in the borough who are in leasehold homes have approached politicians over for help.

Yvonne Fovargue, MP for Makerfield, said: “I believe using leasehold to sell homes is unfair and unjust. I know from the correspondence I have received on this matter that many leaseholders are reporting a whole range of problems.

“These include high service charges and a lack of transparency over what they are being charged for; freeholders who block attempts by leaseholders to exercise the right to manage; and excessive costs associated with administrative charges and applications to extend agreements or enfranchise.

“Action from ministers has been too slow, too weak and existing leaseholders have been overlooked.”

Leigh MP Jo Platt said: “The leasehold scandal has hit our local towns hard. Leigh is the 10th highest constituency in the country for the proportion of homes sold with a leasehold which sees families across our towns paying an effective rent on top of their mortgage payments.

“I see the impact of this in my surgeries every week with homeowners in real financial hardship because of the grossly unfair ground rent increases.

“We need strong intervention to make our housing system work for the many and not just the privileged few.”

Data on leaseholds shows that in Wigan last year 1,628 houses were sold, with 815 of them leasehold.

In Makerfield there were 873 leasehold house sales out of a total of 1,547, while in Leigh 1,147 of the 2,064 homes sold had leaseholds.

Houses form the vast majority of sales in the borough but national data also includes separate listings for all dwellings, which also includes flats and apartments.

Labour’s new policy announcement would ban the sale of new leasehold houses and flats and would give existing leaseholders the right to buy the full, freehold ownership of their home for one per cent of its value.

Ground rents in existing leaseholds would be capped at 0.1 per cent of the worth of the home, up to a maximum of £250 per year.

The party also wants to see homeowners given far more rights to challenge unfair fee hikes and poor service by managing agents and for reference lists of reasonable charges and expectations for leaseholders to be published.

The party also wants residents to have greater powers over management of houses.

It is thought at least 4.3 million homes across England owned on a leasehold basis.

The planned changes would mean a property in England priced at £250,000 with a 90-year lease would have the cost of buying the freehold slashed from more than £10,000 to £2,500, saving leaseholders almost £8,000 in addition to legal fees.