AN MP has taken a stand against what she calls “fleecehold” estate fees on new build housing developments.

Labour MP for Bishop Auckland, Helen Goodman, presented a private members bill in Parliament on Wednesday in an effort to tackle unfair maintenance fees on new build developments.

She called to “end the money for nothing culture of property companies” with the bill which looks to regulate the spiralling fees charged to homeowners and ensure communal green spaces are properly looked after.

So-called “fleecehold” estate fees – which Ms Goodman described as a “private new-build tax” – primarily affect freeholders on private housing developments.

Communal spaces on an estate, such as grass verges, play areas, trees and shrubs, are retained by developers instead of handed over to the local authority.

Property companies then charge residents inflated fees for upkeep, or sell on the land to a property management company who collect these fees.

In her speech, Ms Goodman named Durham Gate, Burton Woods, Middridge Vale and Castle Vale amongst the estates affected by uncapped management charges.

She spoke of residents on one estate being billed an annual total of £27,000 for a grass cutting service.

Ms Goodman said that although estate fees are often included as covenants to be observed in the transfer deeds on many freehold properties, many homeowners do not know they exist until a bill arrives.

She also told MPs that fees are currently unregulated, and management companies have no obligation to account for the charges incurred or to ensure repairs take place. Unlike leasehold homeowners, freeholders do not have access to a dedicated ombudsman service to help resolve disputes between residents and their management companies.

She went on to say that “individual citizens cannot challenge multibillion-pound corporations. This is because the underlying problem is the legal structure and my bill seeks to change this”.

She said: “To prevent more people from being caught in this trap in the future, developers should be required to make up to the public spaces to adoptable standard on a reasonable time scale. But obviously for existing homeowners a different approach is needed.

“This bill will cap and regulate estate maintenance fees to give people the security of knowing prices cannot increase indefinitely.”

She added: “And finally, it will make provision for the transfer to genuine self-management to end the stranglehold of managing agents.”

The Freehold Properties (Management Charges and Shared Facilities) Bill will now go forward to a Second Reading, which is scheduled on January 25, 2019.