Fleece hold - can you do anything?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
10 replies 6.6K views
jmp1979jmp1979 Forumite
6 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
So we bought a new build Countryside property approx. 4 years ago now.
When we bought we have a freehold on property + a yearly fee to pay for communal grounds otherwise known as "Fleece hold" and something all new builders are doing. It was very underhand how we were sold this and we were not told about this until after a deposit was put down. Then we were told it was a small fee that we would hardly notice and not until we got contracts a month or so before we moved we found out details.

The management company (also owned by Countryside!) have been steadily raising fee 6% a year which I was ok with until this year where it has shot up 45%! (all the houses complete this year)... This has extremely concerned us. No explanation for sudden rise.

So year 1 = approx. £130 yr
now year 4 = £205 yr

So there are nearly 1000 homes on a new estate, each will be paying a similar amount.
I would estimate the gardening for the whole estate is circa 20-40k a year.
so this leaves 160k a year (a very small percentage goes into a reserve fund) and the rest is management fees.

I have written multiple emails to get to bottom of what is being spent on gardening but they just keep sending back a overall figure. Is there really nothing we can do.

Also on a small note we all get charged (included in £205/yr) a £20 fee (every year) to set up a direct debit so we pay in 4 instalments!..is this allowed? I thought the cost of direct debits to a company were almost free? is this different to credit card fees charges that have been disallowed?

Replies

  • Comms69Comms69 Forumite
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    jmp1979 wrote: »
    So we bought a new build Countryside property approx. 4 years ago now.
    When we bought we have a freehold on property + a yearly fee to pay for communal grounds otherwise known as "Fleece hold" and something all new builders are doing. It was very underhand how we were sold this and we were not told about this until after a deposit was put down. Then we were told it was a small fee that we would hardly notice and not until we got contracts a month or so before we moved we found out details.

    The management company (also owned by Countryside!) have been steadily raising fee 6% a year which I was ok with until this year where it has shot up 45%! (all the houses complete this year)... This has extremely concerned us. No explanation for sudden rise.

    So year 1 = approx. £130 yr
    now year 4 = £205 yr

    So there are nearly 1000 homes on a new estate, each will be paying a similar amount.
    I would estimate the gardening for the whole estate is circa 20-40k a year.
    so this leaves 160k a year (a very small percentage goes into a reserve fund) and the rest is management fees.

    I have written multiple emails to get to bottom of what is being spent on gardening but they just keep sending back a overall figure. Is there really nothing we can do.

    Also on a small note we all get charged (included in £205/yr) a £20 fee (every year) to set up a direct debit so we pay in 4 instalments!..is this allowed? I thought the cost of direct debits to a company were almost free? is this different to credit card fees charges that have been disallowed?



    on what basis do you judge the cost of gardening? That amount is just about enough to pay for a single gardener.


    On an estate with 1,000 properties, I suspect there would be a whole team and the cost would be around the £100-120,000 mark + materials and costs.
  • This is the problem, theres no real justification for works.

    I work in project management also so know how long things take and also know the fees are where the money goes but I have to justify what my clients are paying for.

    And just to put in into reality, our section of estate (250 houses) there is 3 green areas measuring approx 30m2 each, one flower bed (thats never been touched) all the rest is council adopted or private.

    The lawns are complete in a couple of hours total each time. Nothing else has been touched for 4 years that none of the residents know of.
    So would estimate 16 visits a year x 2 hours for 2 gardeners per year that anyone knows of.
  • SmodletSmodlet Forumite
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    Sounds as if your solicitor should have found out about this before it was too late. Any possibility of taking action against them for negligence or were they employed by the developer?

    Yet another reason to avoid new builds like the plague; thanks for the warning.
  • Yes solicitor was recommended and pushed by developer to get sale through quickly... so bit sneaky but our fault for not realising implication. If I turned back time I would definatly have bought a 100% freehold house.

    I dont mind paying the relatively small fee for mantainence, if its justified, it just annoys me that most of money is being used as an extra tax by builder and will continue to increase with no justification (Im pretty sure the gardeners havent got a 45% pay raise this year!).

    The government really need to do something going forward as this must be a problem in all parts of UK
  • ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    Are the roads being adopted by the local authority?
    It's not whether you're right or wrong that's important, but how much money you make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong." — George Soros
  • Yes, roads are being adopted. But I have been told this will have no effect on this fee.
  • So does anybody know if a company can charge a £20 fee every year for setting up pretty much the same direct debit?

    Everywhere I have read that direct debit are free to set up for a company.
    Obviously I know a new ruling came in that fees are banned on credit cards but does this apply to DD?
  • zx81zx81 Forumite
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    They cannot discriminate between payment types.

    But they can charge a fee for paying in installments, if that is what the DD is doing.
  • ok thanks for clarifing, yes thats what its doing.
  • pimentopimento Forumite
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    Save yourself the £20 by paying it all in one go.
    "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." -- Red Adair
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