Story: Lisa Swift
Concerns about the sale of land under Cookswood Road homes sparked a public meeting in June, organised by residents and the Messenger. It was attended by over 40 people from Cookswood Road, Shirecliffe Lane and Rutland Road.
Since the Council sold the land under their houses in November 2005 they have struggled to find their new landlords. Ground rent is only about £5 per year – but not being able to pay it made residents anxious. One resident told the meeting:
“When I bought my house 30 years ago I was told by my solicitor, ‘whatever happens, make sure you pay the ground rent’. But what if we can’t find the new landlord or they don’t cash the cheque?”
Cookswood Road resident, Graham Dixon, explained that the Council had given him the wrong address for the new landlords, but he’d finally tracked them down and his cheque had been cashed..
Shirecliffe Lane residents said they had never received notification that their land had been sold. It had since been sold again and the owner is unknown.
Some fears were allayed by another resident, Douglas Johnson who, reading from government advice, said:
“Your landlord must notify you of an address… where you can serve notices. So long as they fail to do this, any rent… falling due are treated by statute as not payable and do not become payable until they give you this information. [A new landlord] must tell you in writing and give you his name and address before the next rent demand is due or within two months… If he fails to do so, it is a criminal offence.”
But paying the rent was only part of resident’s the worries: ‘What happens when you come to sell the house?’ and ‘Want if you want to do work, that need permission from the landlord?’. There were fears about how the new landlords intended to get their money back on their £20,000 investment.
The majority of residents wished to buy their freehold. Several had approached the Council to purchase it, but felt they were put off or told it wasn’t possible.
It was agreed to raise the issue with the Council and the Councillors.