PROPERTY owners are caught in a leasehold scandal and being 'clobbered' by spiralling hidden costs, trapping them in unsellable homes, according to the town's MP.

This injustice was supposed to be tackled by the Government’s Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill as leaseholders are impacted across the country.

But Weaver Vale Labour MP and Shadow Housing Minister Mike Amesbury says the law going through Parliament will only apply to new homes in the future. It won’t do anything for existing leaseholders including his constituents in places like Winnington, Northwich, as well as Sandymoor and Beechwood in Runcorn.

The MP, who is this week leading Labour’s scrutiny of the bill at committee stage, said: "Leasehold means that when people buy a house, they don’t own the land underneath, and often face unexpected, unfair costs with no right of challenge or recourse, and are unable to make changes or easily sell or re-mortgage.

"Many leaseholders were unaware of these hidden costs at point of purchase, in a misselling swindle dubbed the new PPI scandal.

"Two million people are trapped in this unfair property arrangement that goes back to Medieval times and that unequal Lord and peasant relationship."

Northwich Guardian: Mike Amesbury says the new leasehold reform doesn't go far enough

Mr Amesbury, who addressed 3,000 campaigners at the national Leaseholders Together Rally in September, added: "The new law is a step in the right direction – something I’ve campaigned on since being elected - but it doesn’t go far enough as it fails to protect existing leaseholders."

Leaseholders can be affected by spiralling ground rents that double every ten years but also obscure clauses and charges in their lease such as a £2,800 fee for adding a conservatory.

With no prospect of ever selling the property on, some leaseholders have looked into buying the freehold only to discover this is yet another area targeted by the profiteers.

Leaseholder Tracy Whittle always had an ambition to buy the freehold on her four-bed detached house in Winnington, Northwich and when she signed up to the lease was told it would cost £5,500.

But this freehold was sold on to another company and the price doubled to £11,000 putting it out of her reach.

There are also clauses in her lease that mean she can have a cat or a dog but no other type of pet. She’s not even allowed to have a TV aerial on her roof.