BBC Rip Off Britain: Families Discover Their £180,000 Homes Are Worth Nothing
Devastated families from a new-build estate in Bradford have been told their £180,000 homes were actually worthless after the company that developed them hadn't finished building them to comply with necessary regulations.
The issue has affected 13 homes in total - each worth up to £180,000 - which all back onto a dormant landfill site emitting toxic methane gas.
While it hasn't been active for more than 40 years, the council says the gas can still be dangerous when combined with other gasses, according to BBC's Rip Off Britain.
And in each home, builders were meant to fit a protective gas membrane under the floors - but home owners have been left with no proof that this was completed.
Sherwood Homes, the estate's developers, went into administration before sorting the issue, meaning the homes had thousands of pounds worth of work which wasn't completed to a safe standard.
Chris and Steph Oliver, 34 and 29, were one household who were affected by the issue.
They bought their three-bed home for £130,000 back in 2014, using a 20 per cent Help to Buy loan.
However, when they tried to remortgage, after five years, they were shocked to discover their home didn't meet the same standard, and was subsequently being valued at £0.
The couple said they felt "let down by the systems in this country."
"It's a mess," said graphic designer Chris on the show. "There's been so many people who we should have been able to trust and rely on and no one wants to help."
"We tried to contact Sherwood Homes. There was no reply," he went on.
"They stopped answering phone lines and emails. We were in a state of panic."
While each home has its own unique issues, the over-riding similarity was that things weren't completed and that each property was unsafe.
"The road hasn't been adopted by the council and it doesn't meet with the drawings that were offered by the architect, the drainage... it's just a total mess really," Chris went on.
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Homeowners now have to fork out themselves to fix the issues so that their properties are habitable, and have value.
They're now being advised to take legal action against the developer's agencies alongside their conveyance solicitors.
Adeel Azfal, 27, is another property owner who lives on the estate with his partner and daughter Anya, two.
They bought their house for £175,000 back in June 2016, and now owe their mortgage provider a whopping £150,000.
"We've got a young family. My partner doesn't work so we are tied into what we thought would be our forever home.
"When we realised it was worth nothing it was a shock. I'm in £150,000 worth of debt to my mortgage provider and I'm paying for a house that's worth nothing at all".
Ex-Bradford council worker Hamid Khan is another resident affected, and he paid £180,000 back in 2016.
Revealing he was gobsmacked at the lack of building work that took place, he said he had to rip the floors of his home up just to check the work had been done.
"You can only verify it if you break the whole floor," he said. "It doesn't make sense. You're so close to a landfill site and to not install a gas membrane and not install correctly. It's just unheard of."
In recent weeks, the Oliver family and the Azfal family have complained to their conveyancing solicitors who have agreed to help pay towards finishing the building work, despite denying any negligence.
Meanwhile, Mr Khan has taken his issue to the Legal Omudsman.
A Bradford Council spokesperson told the programme: "Clearly residents have been let down by the developer and the agencies that worked for the developer, and that is why the Council have supported residents through guidance and advice.
"We understand that a number of the residents have successfully taken legal action against the developer's agencies in order to rectify some of the problems on site, which the Council considers to be the correct route for residents to be following."
A Homes England spokesperson said: "We have been in regular contact with Mr and Mrs Oliver over this matter and recognise the distress it has caused them."
It has since also suspended interest payments on Help to Buy loans for the residents affected.
BBC Rip Off Britain, presented by Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville aired on BBC One at 9:15am. You can catch up on BBC iPlayer.
Featured Image Credit: BBC Rip Off Britain
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