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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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I have ownership of a terraced bungalow in the grounds of a

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I have ownership of a terraced bungalow in the grounds of a Barchester Care home. It is leasehold. My father who lived in the bungalow died 3 years ago. There are about 30 similar bungalows and about 25 of them are also up for sale, a few through Barchester but most of them are with the children of elderly people who have also died. Barchester are not really making the environment desirable for older people and consequently they are not selling. 1. We all thought that Barchester would buy the properties back when our parents died (I even have this in writing from a manager), but the small print in the contract has a get out clause. 2. The bungalows are in a prime building area. They were all bought for about £200,000. We are all worried that the whole establishment will be sold. Where would that leave us? 3. Would it help us if we tried to buy the leases? As a group (by this I mean me and the other people who own the properties after their parents died) we are all extremely angry and feel cheated by the situation. Have you any suggestions please??

In a way it is a potential scandal. The properties which are in Cheshire are together worth about £2 million. Our deceased parents bought them in good faith. barchester have not promoted their independent living programme and consequently our properties are not selling. Some have been on the market for 4 years. Barchester have not told us why they bought some back and not others. 

The prime building land is literally next door to where Wayne Rooney lives, which perhaps gives an indication of the value.

Another major problem is that we all have to continue paying about £300 a month (!!!!)  in service charges. We have tried to rent the properties out so we can keep this payment up but it is fraught with difficulties. 


Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Is the freeholder or management company actually in breach of any terms of the lease?

Do you think that they are trying to hang on in the hope that all the properties will come up the sale and they will be able to buy them cheap to sell the area off as development land?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No not really. However Barchester are a very big group of care home providers with their reputation to consider. When our parents bought the properties , over 4 or 5 years ago, the managers all explained to our parents that they would buy back the properties (and I still have this in writing). The managers were in our view deliberately misleading these elderly people. However as I said previously there is a get out clause in the small print of the lease.


I have asked if it is their intention to sell off the area but they will not be drawn on this and continue to tell us they want to make Barchester at Prestbury work. However if that was the case I think they could do much better.


I think it can be agreed that we are all in a very bad situation about this, particularly as we all have to pay the service charges. We do get in tenants but they tend to be "ordinary" people not elderly people in need of support. This is because very few such elderly people want to live there now because there is no community for them.


Can you put your finger on anything in the lease that they are not actually doing or that they are in breach of?

I need to know why in particular they are causing problems and why the problems are preventing the propertyies being sold
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your help.

I will have to look at the lease again in detail.


On the site there is a care home which has partial occupancy. The Barchester management (senior managers have come to our meetings) have said that the care home has been their priority. Recently they have decorated the independent living bungalows which Barchester have for sale. (The reason they have some for sale is because they have bought some back but they refuse to tell us why these ones and not ours). However a lot more needs to be done, other than painting and having nice gardens in order to run a successful independent living community. I think a major problem is that a group of elderly people died (our parents) and nothing has been done to promote the independent living over the last 4 years. The result is that there are about 5 of the original group who still live there , but it is like the Marie Celeste. It is difficult to attract new residents by either us selling our bungalows or Barchester trying to do this because there really is no community there, just 5 elderly people. (I am not sure if there was anything about their obligation to maintain the community in the lease....I will need to check this....but I think it is unlikley.

Barchester have tried to rent their bungalows to suitable elderly people but there has been very low take up.

Should we think about trying to buy out our leases. If these bungalows were not attached to barchester they would be worth about the amount we payed fro them (£300k to £190k dependent on the size of the bungalow. The land for building wold also be worth a great deal. (You can see the bungalows on Right Move under Prestbury, Macclesfield.) The Barchester ones are not listed on Right Move as it would look even more ridiculous to have even more for sale. Prestbury is a very desrirable location. The problem is attributable to Barchester.

In the last year they have had 3 new managers at Prestbury and each time we are told it is all going to be wonderful etc.

As a group we all think our deceased parents would be appalled at what has happened and I think it has major implications for the reputation of Barchester as a provider of care for the elderly. Barchester have tried to blame the downturn in the economic climate but the rest of Prestbury is not effected.

Thank you for your attention. As a group we meet every couple of months and meet Barchester senior managers about every quarter, but we do not make any progress.

Unless there is an obligation on Barchester to do something which is documented in the lease and they have not done it, then there is no action you can bring against them. Provided they comply with their obligations in the lease if they have simply lost interest in the area and are not promoting everything around there is no cause of action by the property owners or occupiers.
You may be able to negotiate the purchase of the freehold however unless everyone does it together it means that one property in isolation amongst a lot of elderly people's properties reduces the value.
Knowing the area by reputation I cannot see that such a valuable piece of land would not be fully utilised and it seems strange that Barchester appear to be letting the place go to rack and ruin.
Regarding your specific points
1 you cannot enforce the buyback unless there is a binding term in the lease which it appears there is not

2 of the whole establishment is sold it may leave you in a more powerful position because if everything else has been sold and you are in the middle in isolation you could in effect hold them to ransom and charge them through the nose for that one property if it would hold up the rest of their development

3 I have already covered the lease element earlier.
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