Blagdon is a complex of 85 cottages, bungalows and flats “clustered around Blagdon Lodge where communal facilities can be found”.
With 20 “interest and social groups”, the Lodge is described as a “hive of activity”, although one that seems particularly active right now is an Escape Committee.
Four properties have been on the market for 18 months and prospective buyers have been deterred by the exit fees, which are, Carlex understands, the highest in in retirement leasehold.
There is no suggestion that Retirement Villages has ever hidden these fees. Its retirement complexes are clustered around nice country houses, which have communal areas and are rather like a luxurious club. The upkeep to such complexes is high.
But the 12.5 per cent exit fees mean that if you want to – or have to – sell up, the financial cost is prohibitive.
Tony Warren, an unhappy customer of many years standing, has been trying for some years to mobilise support for a number of grievances among his neighbours at Cedars Village in Hertfordshire.
But the rebellion at Blagdon Retirement Village appears to enjoy wide support.
The residents’ association committee appears to be trying to stifle the issue.
Furthermore, in (another) case of “shoot the messenger”, Carlex is blamed for damaging prospective sales.
The idea that Carlex has single-handedly halted the market in retirement leasehold (only 1,600 retirement leasehold flats were built last year, according to McCarthy and Stone), is preposterous.
In fact, the appalling greed of developers introducing sneaky revenue generating clauses in the leases (such as exit fees, which the Office of Fair Trading has stated are unfair contract terms) and predatory management companies have driven the sector into crisis.
Carlex’s advice is not to buy retirement leasehold at all, but consider renting instead.
Any Retirement Villages residents or heirs to property can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Inquiries will be dealt with in confidence.
Carlex has been given permission to publish the letter from the Blagdon Retirement Village residents, although their names have been withheld on request:
With reference to our previous mails to you regarding Blagdon Retirement Village in Taunton, Somerset (Retirement Villages Ltd.) 39 of us asked our Residents’ Association Committee to hold a secret ballot to ascertain how many residents wanted to take the subject of the assignment fee further in view of the OFT report, e.g. to contact other villages to find out their views and contact both our local MP and Sir Peter Bottomley. The committee have refused us a ballot and have been circulating information to all residents definitely siding with RV and, together with other ridiculous statements, are saying that having signed the lease we must pay the 12.5%. Unfortunately, many of the residents here, especially those living on their own, are believing everything they are told and are fearful of upsetting RV Ltd!
There are four properties on this site that have been for sale for up to 18 months and we know from the sellers that some prospective purchasers have been ‘put off’ by the high exit fee. However, the committee say, and we quote, “the existence of a substantial assignment fee may deter some purchasers but may equally attract others by ensuring that the initial payment is competitive with other similar accommodation in the area”! There is no evidence that this is true and proves that our committee have no real understanding of the situation.
They dispute the fact that retirement properties have gone down in value and in the minutes of the last committee meeting they state, and we quote: “The most significant threat to the prospect of a sale is the atmosphere of uncertainty generated by the uninformed public activities of organisations such as Carlex” !!!
We know we are fighting a losing battle here but after Parliament’s summer recess we will, as you suggest, contact our local MP and also Sir Peter Bottomley backing him in his call for an urgent All-party parliamentary group on leasehold.