First Time Buyers are speaking out about their devastation upon finding out that their new build homes bought some years ago are now practically worthless.
One couple who have found themselves in this situation and have chosen to reveal all to BBC’s Rip Off Britain is Chris and Steph Oliver – who paid £130,000 for their three-bedroom new-build in Bradford back in 2014 – after using the government’s 20% Help to Buy scheme to get a mortgage with a term of five years.
As they came to remortgage the property, the pair then discovered that the building they purchased had not been completed in line with building regulations.
To make matters worse, the firm behind the development – Sherwood Homes – went into administration back in February, and the problem doesn’t end there either, because it then emerged that all 13 homes on the same new build estate are facing the same problems.
It was reported that one of the main issues was that the estate backs onto what used to be a landfill site.
Despite the site being inactive for over four decades, the council claimed it still releases toxic methane gas, however when building began on the estate, there was supposed to be a protective membrane fitting under the floors of each property.
There is at present no proof that this was fitted correctly, or ever even completed.
Chris Oliver – a graphic designer – said: “It’s a mess.
“We feel let down by the systems in this country [and] there’s been so many people who we should have been able to trust and rely on and no one wants to help.”
He continued: “We tried to contact Sherwood Homes [but] there was no reply.
“They stopped answering phone lines and emails,
“We were in a state of panic.”
Adeel Azfal – another first time buyer who lives with his partner and daughter, Anya – is in the same position as Chris and Steph after purchasing another one of the properties on the same estate for £175,000 back in June of 2016.
Again speaking to BBC’s Rip Off Britain, he said: “We’ve got a young family. My partner doesn’t work so we are tied into what we thought would be our forever home.
“When we realised it was worth nothing it was a shock.
“I’m in £150,000 worth of debt to my mortgage provider and I’m paying for a house that’s worth nothing at all.”
Gary Rycroft – a new-build solicitor – advised the residents to take action against their conveyancing solicitors.
He said: “The conveyancing solicitor on the face of it hasn’t spotted various issues you would expect them to spot. In terms of environmental issues arising on the site, the new road and the sewers, these are all fundamental issues and all part of the job you would expect a conveyancing surveyor would do.”
Both lots of homeowners claim that their conveyancing solicitors denied any wrong-doing, but did agree to pay towards finishing the building work.
A spokesperson for Bradford Council also told the programme: “Clearly residents have been let down by the developer and the agencies that worked for the developer, and that is why the council have supported residents through guidance and advice.
“We understand that a number of the residents have successfully taken legal action against the developer’s agencies in order to rectify some of the problems on site,
“The council considers to be the correct route for residents to be following.”