'Unfair' Stevenage flat owners rent free to be cut

image source, Holly
image captionHolly has lived in Six Hills House in Stevenage since December 2016, but has been unable to sell her flat since October

A flat owner who faced being "trapped" by ground rent charges that double every 15 years has spoken of her relief that the fees will be cut.

Conservative MP Stephen McPartland raised the "unfair" arrangement affecting 150 homeowners at Six Hills House in Stevenage in Parliament.

Freeholders Adriatic Land said it would now link rent hikes to inflation.

Holly, 34, who has a shared-ownership flat in the block, said it meant she could "move on with my life."

image source, Magnum Photos
image captionAbout 150 people live in Six Hills House in Stevenage

Mr McPartland, MP for Stevenage, told Parliament last month an agreement in the lease to double ground rents every 15 years meant no banks would consider a new mortgage or a remortgage.

He said the previous arrangement, which was "unfair" and had left residents "trapped", should be changed.

Holly, who wanted to be known by her first name, said she had been trying to get the matter resolved for months.

"Then it gets raised in Parliament and a short-term resolution is being arranged," she said.

"I was in limbo before but now I should be able to sell my flat and can now move on with my life."

image source, Parliament Live TV
image captionStephen McPartland raised the issue in a debate at Westminster Hall on 27 February

Mr McPartland said: "I am pleased Adriatic Land has come to the table to find solutions. It is a fantastic step towards a fairer deal for leaseholders."

Investment management company Long Harbour operates Adriatic Land, which was set up to acquire ground rents.

A spokesman for HomeGround, managing agent company for Long Harbour, said after negotiations it will be "removing the doubling ground rent clauses in the leases".

It will be replaced "with a review that is linked to inflation", he said.

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