Councillor's backing for Wigan residents facing shock new ground rent charges

Coun Michael Winstanley
Coun Michael Winstanley

A Wigan councillor has stepped in to support residents who have received concerning letters about new ground rent charges.

Coun Michael Winstanley, who represents Orrell, says several homeowners have reported getting a letter through the post from an unknown developer, who has recently purchased the rights to ground rents for a number of properties in Orrell.

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The letters reportedly warn the homeowners that they will be charged for any cosmetic work they have had done to their houses. This includes work such as extensions, conservatories or landscaping.

Sums of around £2,500 have been mooted in the letters – to avoid action from the new ground rent owners – Coun Winstanley claimed.

“They’ve been written to if they’ve had work done, saying if they don’t have permission to do it, we are going to charge you,” the Conservative

councillor said.

“Over the years, people will have been making improvements to their house, and will have assumed it was part of what they were able to do.

“They’ve been paying ground rent for years previously and never had this issue.

“It’s causing a lot of anxiety, especially for the elderly people who aren’t in a position to pay this money. We seem to think he (the developer) might have bought the rights to a few thousand houses in Wigan.

“This might be a big problem in the area.”

He added: “I think the timing of this is particularly unfortunate.

“People are extremely busy getting ready for Christmas, and then they get a letter like this through the door.

“What I’m concerned about is people going through unnecessary distress, anxiety and worry, especially over Christmas and New Year.”

But several Orrell residents have banded together to stand up for themselves – as well as neighbours who might not be able to – by forming a community group to share support and advice on the issue

It is an initiative which received praise from Coun Winstanley.

He said: “The problem for some is that you might think you are on your own. It could affect everyone on your street.

“It’s important for people to know they are not alone.

“That’s why I am keen to make people aware of this residents’ group.”

Coun Winstanley had contacted the legal department at Wigan Council to ask if they could help, but they are unable to intervene due to it being a private matter.

Details of the firm behind the letters have not yet been confirmed.