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We are genuinely sorry that the family of Mrs Clarke have found the process of selling their mother’s property stressful.

MHA provides Retirement Living homes with a range of tenure types. Rowanberries, where Mrs Clarke lived, offers leasehold, shared ownership and rental options. In 2007 leaseholders at Rowanberries could opt for a lease which stipulated that MHA would buy the property back at 95% of the original purchase price when the owner was ready to sell. Mrs Clarke did not choose that option and the lease did not allow subletting.

Following Mrs Clarke’s death, when it became clear that the property was proving difficult to sell, we agreed in these specific circumstances to allow the family to sublet the property and offered to defer some charges at this time. We then bought the property back at current market value. Unfortunately, due to the state of the property market which MHA cannot control, the current market price was below what Mrs Clarke had initially bought the property for.

More recently issued leases do allow for subletting by agreement under certain conditions that protect the tenant and the existing retirement community.

Charges such as Service and Wellbeing continue if the property is vacant as they are fixed services providing for all residents across the entire scheme. If we didn’t continue these charges it may trigger a fee review for all other residents every time a property becomes vacant. The Wellbeing charge covers scheme wide provision of 24 hour staffing and emergency cover, as well as on-site support and activities. 

There is a need for greater clarity and transparency of all fees and charges, terms and conditions involved in the sale and purchase of retirement living properties. For this reason, as a founding member of the Associated Retirement Community Operators, we have helped to develop the ARCO consumer code.

This code demands clear, transparent and simple communication and will significantly improve understanding. The code ultimately protects the interests of consumers and provides a benchmark for good practice in the retirement living sector. 

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