Rip-Off Leasehold Fees Probed By Watchdog

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Expats owning leasehold property in the UK have a chance to make their views known about rip-off charges and unfair contracts.

The Competition and Mergers Authority (CMA) has launched an inquiry to find out if freeholders are taking advantage of buyers.

They point at two issues –

  • Potential misselling when buyers are not given the information they need to understand how their leasehold contract works, such as how much ground rent they must pay or the cost of buying out a leasehold
  • Unfair contract terms leading buyers to pay excessive charges, like ground rents that double every 10 years, administration, service and permission costs

George Lusty, CMA senior director for consumer enforcement, said: “Buying a home is one of the most expensive and important purchases a person can make. So, it’s essential they fully understand the contract they are signing – including whether they will have to pay more than they bargained for.

“Our investigation will shed light on potential misleading practices and unfair terms to help better protect people buying a home in future.”

Find out more about responding to the CMA leasehold call for evidence

Buy to let mortgage choice improves

Landlords have more buy to let mortgage choice than at any time over the past 12 years, according to mortgage monitor Moneyfacts.

Property professionals can pick from 2,396 deals, including more than 1,500 fixed rate loans, representing a 21% increase in a year.

But current mortgage options still lag the number available on the eve of the financial crisis in October 2007, when landlords could choose from 3,305 deals, including nearly 600 fixed rate mortgages.

Moneyfacts finance expert Darren Cook said: “Despite this increasing competition in terms of the total number of products available over the past year, average rates have unfortunately not fallen.”

Landlord ignores fire safety

Landlord David Simons was fined £12,400 with £725 costs for failing to carry out a fire safety upgrade in a flat he rented to four tenants.

Highbury Corner magistrates heard Islington Council issued Simons an improvement notice after tenants complained the flat had no working smoke alarm and lacked a fire door to the kitchen.

But Simons ignored the notice and continued to rent out the home.

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