WINSFORD residents have shared their grievances at ‘falling into the trap’ of buying leasehold homes.

On Thursday, September 7, 23 members of the public met at the Dingle Centre to share their experiences on owning a house on a leasehold basis.

The residents believe they were ‘misinformed’ with some claiming that their house is now unsellable.

Cllr Gina Lewis, who chaired the meeting, said: “When I first heard about this I had not realised the scale of the problem.

“The government has recognised this and there is now a conversation being had. But there are an awful lot of homes set to be built in the area between now and 2020.

“A lot of people will find themselves trapped and the least we can do is raise awareness of the issue.”

A leasehold tenure means that a homeowner will pay ground rent per year to the freeholder, rather than paying a larger sum at the point of sale to buy it.

The freehold can later be sold on to other developers without the permission of the homeowner.

Implications for the leaseholder include rising ground rent, an inability to make changes to their home and an increased fee to buy the freehold.

Neil Bailey, a resident at the meeting, said: “It just doesn’t make sense to me as when you buy a house it should be yours to do what you want with it.

“With regards to buying the freehold in the first place, I’ve heard people say they were never even offered it or that they could only purchase it after two years.

“One homeowner has had their house on the market for 28 weeks and they can’t sell it because other people don’t want to buy leasehold.

“I just feel as though it’s exploitation. We were first-time buyers and excited about getting our first home and it was made out to be something we shouldn’t worry about.

“I’d even convinced my neighbour to buy on the estate because it was a great place but now he’s in the same position as me and I feel terrible for it."

The group were also given a talk by John Ruddy, a former police officer who had to pay £16,000 to buy his freehold after it had been sold on three times.

Deborah Law, another resident, said: “I feel as though I’ve been tricked into buying a leasehold property.

“When we were looking at buying, we didn’t know about the implications and added to that we were barely told by the developer about what buying a leasehold home would mean for us.

“The sales department made clear that ‘everybody is doing it’ and won’t cause any problems but I think even they didn’t know what they were saying.

“We heard about John’s experiences and I commend him for it but I just cannot afford to pay £16,000 to get out of this.”

A consultation into unfair practices in the leasehold market is taking place and people can respond by emailing