WARRINGTON leaseholders and their families could be in line for thousands of pounds in compensation after being badly advised by their legal firms in property deals.

Big property developers have got rich selling on freeholds of houses.

Many families bought their new build estate properties under a long term lease unaware of any associated risks and fees.

But since then freeholders have demanded spiralling ground rents from householders as part of their contract which will often double every 10 years.

Under the leasehold scheme someone signed on with a doubling ground rent costing £295 a year in 2008 would pay an eye watering £182,000 over 50 years.

In some cases these ground rents have left people seriously out of pocket and unable to sell their homes.

New proposals by the Law Commission designed to protect leaseholders by allowing them to extend their leases to 990 years will not help those already in leasehold properties - only new buyers.

And threatened legal action by Government agency the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) isn't expected to start until next year at the earliest and only involves four house developers.

Meanwhile Residents of the Steinbeck Grange estate in Chapelford, Chaise Meadow in Lymm , Edgewater park in Latchford along with other estates in and around the Warrington area are stuck in onerous leases.

Now some of these cases are being investigated by Professional Negligence expert Robert Godfrey, a partner at Simpson Millar.

He has previously recovered hundreds of thousands of pounds for ex miners who sued their own solicitors for dodgy advice over illness claims, and now he has set up a specialist unit to help ripped off leaseholders.

Robert - who is already representing 240 leasehold victims caught in the scandal - said: "This is an absolute disgrace. These families have been let down from start to finish. It's scandalous people can be treated in such a way.

“Unfortunately any new changes are too little too late and won’t help those who already bought their leasehold properties before 2018. They should be made retrospectively to help those already stuck on outrageous leasehold terms.

"These are hard-working families who should have been looked after, not taken advantage of. Now many of them are trapped in their homes unable to sell or afford to purchase their freehold back and saddled with spiralling rents. Many of those affected have yet to take action.

"We are already helping affected residents in the Edgewater park estate but we estimate there are hundreds more people in new build estates all over Warrington and the surrounding areas who have also been short changed with these leasehold deals. I believe people stuck in these onerous leaseholds could be owed many thousands of pounds for the negligent advice from their conveyancers.

“We can help those even if they have swapped ground rent deals or since been offered freehold at cost price.

"For solicitors to be paid for doing a bad job is disgraceful. These families have been sold a very bad deal with very little understanding of what they were really signing up to. And all the while they continue to suffer conditions that hamper their everyday life and will affect them well into the future."

It is estimated that there are over 100,000 householders trapped in restrictive leasehold schemes on estates across the country.

They are mainly located on new build estates and have been a popular option for families and first time buyers to get on the housing ladder as part of the government’s help to buy scheme.

Developers whose North West estates include affected leaseholders are David Wilson, Morris Homes, Barrett Homes ,Countryside, Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey.

Warrington Borough Council has previously passed a motion at the Town Hall aiming to support residents caught up in the leasehold scandal.

The motion was proposed by leader Cllr Russ Bowden who has since written to leaders of north west councils to seek support for an agreed regional position on leaseholds, in partnership with the National Leasehold Campaign.

Mr Godfrey - who has also joined forces with pressure group National Leasehold Campaign - added: "It is abundantly clear from speaking with families that they didn't understand the leasehold scheme.

“We are now in the process of settling claims for some householders against their developers after receiving offers over their ordeals.

"They received little advice about the risks of leaseholds and long term doubling of ground rents and onerous clauses and the fact that they were unable to buy their freehold for a period of years by which time the cost of doing so was prohibitive for most working families."

To get a free lease check go to www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/leasehold/