A LAWYER in Bury has alerted householders to a potential scam involving rogue developers and new restrictions on new-build freehold properties.

Sky-high leasehold charges have been replaced by freehold fees by unscrupulous sellers, according to WHN's Graham Ireland.

The Manchester Road firm's head of conveyancing says this appear to have occurred in the wake of the government scrapping leasehold ownership for new-builds.

Mr Ireland said: "Previously the main difference between buying a new house leasehold and freehold was that if you owned it leasehold you needed to pay the ground rent, and if you owned the freehold you did not.

"It is more difficult to enforce freehold covenants than leasehold covenants, so another huge part of this scandal is that some developers are now putting the same covenants that were originally in their leasehold contracts into freehold contracts too.

"The upshot is that people are buying freehold and then, further down the line, finding they must get permission from the developer, or management company to extend their property, or for other home improvements.

"Also, service charges for green spaces and car parking – common on new housing schemes – can be arbitrary and unreasonable, potentially costing homeowners thousands of pounds."

He says he has also come across instances where new-build householders had been charged up to £300 by management companies for basic information packs on their properties when they come to sell later.

MPs representing a cross-party group had tabled a bill to tackle these issues but the legislation fell away as a result of the General Election.

Mr Ireland says householders can try to negotiate covenants to be taken out of the transfer document through their solicitor.