British watchdog starts probe into big homebuilders over leasehold practices By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Branding is seen on a new Barratt Homes housing development near Warrington, Britain

(Reuters) – Britain’s competition regulator on Friday launched an investigation into four of the country’s biggest housebuilders, saying they may have broken a consumer protection law in relation to leasehold homes.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was opening enforcement cases against Barratt Developments (L:), Persimmon Homes (L:), Taylor Wimpey (L:) and Countryside Properties (L:).

The CMA uncovered evidence of potentially unfair terms with regards to ground rents in leasehold contracts and potential mis-selling, it said.

“It is unacceptable for housing developers to mislead or take advantage of homebuyers,” Andrea Coscelli, CMA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

CMA said the possible outcomes of this investigation could include court action, if necessary, or legal commitments from companies to change their practices.

Barratt in a statement said it was cooperating with the watchdog.

Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Countryside were not immediately available for comment.

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