The following article appeared in The Llanelli Herald on Friday 11th January.
There is a lot of concern about some of the new housing developments that have sprung up in the Llanelli constituency recently. There can be no doubt that many of these have not been well-thought through or planned for, often leading to problems like the appalling traffic jams we are continuing to see on Sandy Road. I have long called for the County Council to take these factors into account, and make sure that plans are in place to ease the impact before planning permission is granted.
Another problem we are seeing at the moment is the rise of increasingly predatory property developers. They push through their planning applications and then look for any opportunity to squeeze more money out of the housing they have built at the expense of the new residents. An aspect of this which has become a problem in some parts of Llanelli town and across the country more recently is the charging of extortionate estate charges for freehold properties.
In the past there have been problems with landlords charging extortionate maintenance fees or service charges, but now we are also seeing people buying freehold properties being charged these fees by the developers. Many of the developers also contract this out to separate management companies who have been known to hike the fees dramatically, with very little notice or justification. At the moment, these fees are unregulated and there is no cap on how much can be charged. There are also very few powers for homeowners to challenge the fees or change suppliers.
This needs to change. I’ve been campaigning with Labour colleagues in Parliament to get these estate fees regulated so that property developers and management companies cannot continue to overcharge people who have saved for a home. We need to make sure that we get the right kind of developments in the right places, but also that those looking to buy and rent are not being ripped off.