Contract fees

Calls for new-build estate fees to be clearer for buyers

A group of the UK’s largest banks and building societies have called for housebuilders to make it clear what the current and future cost of estate management fees are to potential homeowners, or they risk borrowers having their mortgage finance declined.

Homeowners living on a private housing estate are often liable for estate management fees which cover the costs to maintain, renew and repair the shared community amenities and spaces which the local council have not assumed responsibility for.

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), which includes 16 of the 20 largest lenders, has declared that onerous terms and conditions in freehold sales contracts could lead to buyers being refused a mortgage on their new-build home.

Kate Davies, executive director of the IMLA, said: “It’s important to ensure that developers make absolutely clear up-front what services are to be provided in return for payment of the fees, and how these will be initially be set and subsequently increased”.

Uncapped fees could make a property unsaleable

The message for housebuilders follows the revelation that some developers are applying uncapped, escalating fees to freehold contracts which could saddle homeowners with an unlimited increase in fees, potentially rendering a property both unmortgageable and unsaleable.

Santander already refuses to lend on new-build homes where the developer has included uncapped management charges in the freehold contract, and Nationwide has declined a number of similar cases.

The IMLA state that there are times when charging estate fees is justified, but homebuilders have a duty to avoid onerous clauses in their contracts and provide transparent information before housebuyers commit to a property.

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