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Have Your Say: Money Box, 7 June

Pound coins
Do you have something to say about the programme?

This week we are inviting you to comment on any part of the 7 June Money Box programme.

Perhaps you have something you would like to say about the Competition Commission's findings about payment protection insurance.

Would you like to comment on the government scheme to improve housing that may lead to some losing their homes?

Or the Bradford and Bingley rights issue or "landbanking"?

Have you been sold payment protection insurance?

Perhaps you are a leaseholder of a former council property.

Maybe you are a Bradford and Bingley shareholder with a view on the rights issue.

Have you had any experience of "landbanking"?

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. The debate is now closed.

MOST RECENT COMMENTS:

I sympathise with leaseholders of ex-council properties. I narrowly escaped the problem, but only by passing it onto someone else! When I bought my ex-council maisonette, I had a survey done - all came back fine. Little did I know that the council considered the 'estate' on which I lived to include the dodgy tower blocks half a mile away. I was expected to pay for maintenance and communal lighting of these. With my neighbour we had the theoretical ability to by the freehold of our maisonette and escape - but the council lawyers managed to prevent us buying that as well. I saw the whole thing as intensely political - Thatcher 'right to buy' policy and local labour council 'right to rob'. I decided to sell up and emigrate rather than pay... fortunately I made enough money to enable me to become a freeholder, and would never go back to leasehold.
Andy Barnard

If HM government is so keen to improve housing stock, surely they should ensure that leaseholders should not be so financially stretched?
Robert
Re leaseholders: In the mid 60s I worked in the section of the then Ministry of Housing and Local Government which issued loan sanctions to local authorities for capital expenditure on a wide range of services. Loans for grants paid by local authorities for the improvement of owner occupied housing stock, if my memory is correct, were repaid over a period of 15 or 20 years. The Ministry paid grants to councils for the improvement of their properties. These improvements I believe also were the subject of authorised loans which were paid off over similar periods. Loans for advances for house purchase, improvement, etc were generally repaid over 30 years though certain authorities had schemes which allowed for repayment over 35 or 40 years. If HM government is so keen to improve housing stock, surely they should ensure that leaseholders should not be so financially stretched? To repay substantial amounts over 2 or 3 years seems ludicrous. Periods of 15 to 20 years would be more appropriate. If some of the leaseholders feel that they are being overcharged, they may take the matter up at the time the council's accounts are ready for audit, or pursue the matter with the local government Ombudsman. Furthermore they could also approach their local MP.
Robert

Re leaseholders: I totally agree with being financially liable for repairs, but this 'tough luck' attitude is spurious to say the least. I own and live in an ex-council flat in Southwark that I bought at full-market rate privately. I am faced with a bill of 13K for 'improvements' that are masked as 'repairs'. I totally agree with Kate, as the leaseholders here are in effect subsidising the tenants. The breakdown of charges is totally unclear and in some instances, when you can get the detailed information, you discover that doors for, as an example, the refuse chambers are 1.5K - and they only need a lick of paint. We've set up a group and have met with the council. I strongly recommend you do the same.
Nicholas

It seems to me that the Government, the FSA and individual investors are equally at fault.
Redmond Hanlon
Re landbanking:It seems to me that the Government, the FSA and individual investors are equally at fault. The government is adept at closing legal loopholes, and should deal with the "collective investment scheme" requirement, which companies are able to flatly deny applies to them; the onus should be on the company to obtain confirmation from the FSA that it is not a CIS. If the FSA know of seventy companies set up since 2005, which may or may not be acting illegally, surely they could be investigated and assessed in a relatively short time? Similarly, investors should spend at least a short time discovering available information on the companies which are trying to sell plots to them; it is not expensive to get a brief view of limited companies from Companies House, and it costs nothing to trawl the web for sites offering advice on landbanking schemes. Having said that, is not the fundamental problem the huge land price increase that planning permission offers? In this context, I might be happy to speculate that a plot adjacent to an existing development boundary could get residential planning permission.
Redmond Hanlon

Re leaseholders: Welcome to the holy grail of property ownership. Pay nowt for it and then expect everyone else to pick up the repair tab. Did you never wonder why it was so cheap?
AP

Re PPI: When I cancelled my Payment protection insurance my credit card provider told me it would affect my credit rating.
Marylin Prosser

Leaseholders should not be bullied to pay
Bernard
Re leaseholders: All parties must recognise that when a contract has been signed and agreed by the parties to the contract, that contract becomes binding. Also, when the issue of unfairness becomes obvious in any contract, it becomes a matter for the court to decide. Unfair charges are penalties and unenforceable in law. The councils are not exempt from the law. To this end, I would suggest that leaseholders seek legal advice and representation as quickly as possible. Leaseholders must not accept any extortionate charges in good faith because the charges are not made up in good faith. The charges levied on leaseholders appears to be disproportionate to the expected cost of repairs in the open market. Leaseholders can team up for a class legal action against the authorities. Beside a reduction in charges for the repairs, leaseholders maybe entitled for compensation after all for undue stress caused them and their families. The answer to the whole argument is court action. Leaseholders should not be bullied to pay any money without court action.
Bernard

Re leaseholders: I am trying to sell my ex-council flat as I am no longer able to live on my own. I am currently staying at my daughter's as I am 88 year old on a limited pension of 8,000 per annum. I feel I may encounter negative response regarding the sale due to the Decent Homes initiative's financial demands. I have lived in the flat since 1967. Has anyone considered the crisis this can cause for elderly low-income residents who purchased their homes in the late eighties and who have been pensioners for 25 years? This problem is being forced upon my daughter who is herself a pensioner and on a low income.
Leslie Barnett

I completely disagree with the selling of council property but I can see why my parents bought
Christina Tyree
Re leaseholders: My parents bought their council flat as soon as the legislation came in. I strongly disagreed with them doing so. Many of the people who bought in the 1970s had lived in council properties for decades (yes; better conditions than many private tenants at the time), they had worked hard and saved (yes; as did people who bought a commercial property), but this was their only opportunity to buy something they could afford. Public sector jobs did not provide good salaries, women were paid low wages for part time jobs and had no work pension. The alternative for those pensioners would be to spend their retirement in a tower block which not always be suitable. I completely disagree with the selling of council property but I can see why my parents bought. For the now pensioners who didn't sell/move, if they cannot afford the huge bills for "Major Works" the council will eventually take it back from their estate when they pass away, or if they have to sell to go into a retirement home. It's a lease so the local authorities will get the property back eventually. Many council tenants stay put in the same property for life so their property is not freed up. Because of the government's policies, not enough social housing has been built over decades.
Christina Tyree

Re leaseholders: Council tenants were offered VERY substantial discounts when they purchased They were quick enough to cash in. The present improvements will add to the value when they sell. Why should councils want to buy back a share in a falling market? There should be a scheme organised and funded where they can BORROW the money whatever their income, pay the going rate of interest (or let it accumulate at that rate if they cannot) and pay back the capital when they sell, like any other mortgage.
Debbie Gatland

The cost of repairs to our council block is out of all proportion to the cost of the actual work being done.
Susan, London
Re leaseholders: The cost of repairs to our council block is out of all proportion to the cost of the actual work being done. For example 13,000 is being charged to put central heating into 2 bedroom flats, because they have neglected the block for 25 years the cost of repairs is very considerable. Do they not have a responsibility for their neglect to date? Our bills are over 30,000 for a new glass roof on sitting room, balcony drainage and new surface laid, central heating & painting balcony. I heard hard hearted council employees telling a 74 year old man he would just have to get a loan. We have no right to argue with the enormous quotes they accept for the work. At a cost of thousands the block was scaffolded and then that taken down and scaffolded again for the next phase. it took several weeks to scaffold such a huge block.
Susan, London

Re leaseholders: OK, they have purchased the leasehold in a former council managed property, but they have also paid rent over many years, so should receive a proportional discount against this rent paying period. Conversely these charges should be levied over a sensible time frame that reflects how long these upgrades will be expected to cover, say anything up to twenty five years. Officers who can not accept that they are being exceptionally divisive, should be asked to explain how they have decided on these very short payment times. If they suggest passing these costs on to subsequent purchasers, maybe previous tenants (or sub-tenants) should also be asked to contribute as well. There have been rumours that some tenants have several different social landlords, how does this charging affect them, and their business status.
Derek, Sunbury

You make an investment, it makes a loss (as many of mine have done recently). Tough. Your decision. Your loss
Phil, London

Re leaseholders: I totally agree with Paul and Susan about the ex-council flat purchasers expecting more taxpayer support to maintain their flat having trousered the original subsidy on purchase and found its juxtaposition with the land bank purchasers, greedily looking to cash in on offers that look "too good to be true" in an unregulated market and then running to nanny state to make everything right. Grow up and take responsibility for yourselves. You make an investment, it makes a loss (as many of mine have done recently). Tough. Your decision. Your loss. Don't expect other working people to bail you out with their taxes.
Phil, London

Re leaseholders: This situation is the result of former Prime Minister Thatcher's policies, which have had the inevitable result of effectively bankrupting some of the tenants who unwisely bought Flats which they were formerly renting from various Local Councils.
Peter, UK

Re leaseholders: When a landlord carries out extensive improvements to a leasehold property the leaseholders financial situation should be considered and he should not face a forced sale in order to finance his contribution. Why can he not be offered a part ownership alternative agreement to his lease?
Frank, Hackney

Reasonable maintenance charges within the service charge are to be expected of course but the amounts involved here are just ludicrous
Melanie, London
Re leaseholders: We are leaseholders of a council built maisonette. We bought it privately, not from the council, so have not benefited from any subsidy from the public purse, don't make generalisations and assumptions people. We were told by the council some years ago that at some point in the future the council were going to put in replacement windows to all homes on the estate and we would have to pay a share whether we wanted the windows or not. Many leaseholders have already had their own double glazing fitted and the cost has been about half of what the council has quoted and these people will still have to pay the council their "share". One would think that the council could get some sort of bulk discount not charge double what the work would cost done privately. This is what is so ridiculous. Reasonable maintenance charges within the service charge are to be expected of course but the amounts involved here are just ludicrous.
Melanie, London

Re leaseholders: Perhaps the solution is to sell the flats back to the council, with a discount matching the one they got when they purchased it. Then they can carry on living there and the council can pick up the repair bill. And the public get a larger council house stock again.
Phil, Camberley

Re leaseholders: Paul & Linus to me seem typically to exhibit the rather smug 'it's your own fault' attitude becoming more prevalent these days; in older wiser times people looked out for each other, tried to help each other, and took no pride or comfort at all from seeing other people worse off than themselves. Nowadays it seems that a person who is 'down' - for whatever reason - is liable to be extra kicked - so that the kickers fill some need in their own make-up to smugly feel better about themselves. Such a shame. And some of it based on spurious and unreliable argument, to boot.
Dennis, Northumberland

Re landbanking: Even if closed down in the UK these companies are moving operations to Asia and selling the same UK plots from there. The actual issue here is clear misrepresentation of risk and benefit, especially in Asia. The UK Government and UK local councils need to make clear statements on the land being offered. The lack of action is actually being used to endorse the schemes.
Mike, Singapore

Re leaseholders: Interesting to hear about home owners faced with massive bills for the upkeep of their property. They should stick to renting instead. Owning a home is dead money!
Jonathan, London

Many leaseholders feel absolutely helpless and have received no support or guidance which tells them what they are entitled to question during consultation
Kate, London

Re leaseholders: I am a leaseholder being affected by this scheme and have just received a bill for in excess of 12,100 to pay within two years. I bought my flat six months ago in the open market and as such did NOT receive any subsidy in the price. I am a first time buyer with a large mortgage and these charges are over half my income. Furthermore, one third of the flats in my block are leasehold, yet we are covering over half the total cost of the works. In effect - I am subsidising the council. It is SIMPLY NOT CLEAR what our money is being spent on. Information provided by the council is vague and misleading. Would you accept a bill that simply outlines 'Works to Building' - 150,000, plus Preliminary - 18,000? This information is meaningless. Many leaseholders feel absolutely helpless and have received NO SUPPORT or guidance which tells them what they are entitled to question during consultation, and therefore may end up paying thousands of pounds for something hidden within the bill which actually the council should be paying for. I have taken this to a solicitor and raised with my MP and urge others to do the same. Council talk of 'Transparency' and 'consultation' on these processes is an absolute farce.
Kate, London

Re leaseholders: I am trying to sell my ex-council flat as I am no longer able to live on my own. I am currently staying at my daughters as I am 88 years old and on a limited pension of 8,000 per annum. I feel I may encounter negative response regarding the sale due to the Decent Homes financial demands. I have lived in Enfield at the flat since 1967. Has anyone considered the crisis this can cause for elderly low-income residents who purchased their homes in the late eighties and who have been pensioners for 25 years? This problem is being forced upon my daughter who is herself a pensioner and on a low income
Leslie, Enfield

Investors should be responsible for managing their own risks
Linus, London
Re landbanking: Tiresome to hear that ministers should have done more to protect investors. Again. What absolute rubbish. There are two important principles to bear in mind: 1, speculative investment carries risks, 2, shareholders (collectively) own the company they have invested in. Investors should be responsible for managing their own risks and for the probity of the organisation they are funding. If I go into a bookmaker and put 5 on Wonkey Donkey in the 3.15 at Kempton, I don't expect compensation when it doesn't win. There's no difference at all.
Linus, London

Re PPI: When I applied for a credit card in a bank branch in Cambridge, England, I was continually harassed into trying to get me to sign up to PPI and I told the female seller that I wouldn't be using my card much so she argued that I wouldn't be paying much to have PPI. I repeatedly told her I didn't want PPI and she was very persistent but I didn't take it up. The next credit card I applied for was done online to avoid this harassment!
Christopher, Blackburn

When you take on a property you take on the financial responsibility that goes with it
Paul, Cambridge
Re leaseholders: I've just heard about the property owners in the flats on the Warwick Estate in Westminster having to pay towards the refurbishment of the block. Tough! They didn't complain when they benefited from a massive capital gain on buying the flats at a discounted rate did they? Now they're having to put something back, ouch. When you take on a property you take on the financial responsibility that goes with it.
Paul, Cambridge

Re leaseholders: I understand how panicked people might feel if, after buying a former council house, they are then faced with huge bills, but how does this make them different from people who own their flats in private blocks? I'm on a very low income, and am struggling to pay huge renovation costs, as I, too am a leaseholder, only in a private block, and may well lose my flat because of it. Yet, unsurprisingly, no-one is suggesting the local council help me out so I can stay in my flat. People can't have it both ways. If you buy your council home (originally built and paid for by other taxpayers), then you are already getting a subsidy from the public purse. If you then sold your flat on, I don't believe for a second that you would donate any increase in its value back to the council! You have willingly chosen to become a private homeowner. You cannot then continue to claim all the benefits of being a council tenant.
Susan, Shepherds Bush, London


The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



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SEE ALSO
External links and helplines
06 Jun 08 |  Moneybox
Repairs could cost owners' homes
07 Jun 08 |  Moneybox
MP demands end to 'landbanking'
07 Jun 08 |  Moneybox


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