No-one is buying leasehold homes in West Lindsey as 'unsellable' scandal bites hard

No leasehold homes were sold in West Lindsey last year.
No leasehold homes were sold in West Lindsey last year.

Sales of leasehold homes have plummeted in West Lindsey in the last year.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show no new leasehold houses were sold in the area last year.

The blame for the plunge in purchases has been put on the scandal of 'unsellable' homes.

Property campaigners have called for sweeping reforms to the leasehold system, as new statistics show sales in decline across England and Wales.

Leaseholders buy the right to occupy a property for a given length of time – commonly around a century – from the owner, or freeholder.

Data from the ONS found that no new detached, semi-detached or terraced houses were sold as leasehold properties in the area in 2018 , down from 18 a year earlier.

In 2017, they accounted for 15 per cent of newly built houses bought.

The figures do not include sales of new-build flats and maisonettes.

Charges paid to maintain the buildings soared in the early 2000s as developers hiked up repair costs and introduced leases with rocketing ground rents, trapping many in contracts with tight terms, and unable to find buyers.

Across England and Wales, 3,242 new houses were sold as leasehold in 2018.

That's only four per cent of all new-build sales, a sharp decline from 13 per cent the previous year.

This drop was seen across all English regions and Wales.

But sales of existing leaseholds remained stable, at seven per cent of homes sold.

The collapse in sales follows a decade of 'exploitative' tenure arrangements as developers flogged the freeholds to third parties who levied leaseholders with spiralling costs and fees.

The scandal prompted a critical Government report, which pledged a consultation on ways to tackle 'unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold'.

In June, the Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into the mis-selling of leases.

Heather Wheeler MP, housing and homelessness minister said the ONS figures showed the 'crackdown' on leasehold abuses was working.

She added: "The fact that fewer people are getting trapped in exploitative leasehold arrangements should be applauded.

"We have been clear that such arrangements have no place in a modern housing market and that's why we're taking bold action to reform the sector."

But an estimated 100,000 families remain in 'unsellable' leaseholds, the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership said.

Sebastian O'Kelly, the campaign group's chief executive, called the falling sales of new leaseholds proof that consumers 'have got wise to a money-making scandal which should never have happened'.

He added: "There is no justification for selling houses as leasehold tenancies, and it was utterly disgraceful that house builders did this while at the same time accepting a taxpayer-funded subsidy for their products through Help to Buy.

"Appallingly-advised consumers – the overwhelming majority of whom used developer recommended solicitors – have been dumped in unsellable homes, both leasehold houses and flats with onerous ground rent terms.

"Now these properties are unsellable as mortgage lenders will not touch them.