The BBC has, it seems, picked up on the recent trend for developers to sell long leasehold rather than freehold houses and to pass the freehold interests on to investment companies to collect the ground rents.
Whilst the people in this article clearly don't own what they thought they were buying it does beg the question as to what their solicitors were doing when they helped to purchase the properties. Perhaps the clue is in the article though:
"But nowhere on Bellway's website is this system made clear to potential buyers, and Katie feels these facts were not made clear to her. She also says the solicitor - recommended to her by Bellway - made no mention of this possibility either."
Whilst conveyancing has become highly commoditised and price seems to trump all, you do get what you pay for. New build leasehold houses are not the norm and they should not be purchased without understanding the ramifications. Any truly independent and properly qualified conveyancer will be able to tell you as much.
Katie knew the house was leasehold - meaning she owned the property for the 150-year length of her lease agreement - but claims she was told by the sales representative that because of the long lease it was "as good as freehold"; a property owned outright. She thought nothing of it, and says she was told she would be able to buy her freehold after two years, believing it would cost between £2,000 and £4,000. But a year and a half later, she received a letter from Bellway saying her freehold had been sold to an investment company, which was now quoting £13,300 for her to buy it.