The National Trust couldn’t care less about the elderly. The trust has told an octogenarian tenant in his late 80s that his rent payments are set to rise from £148 to an astronomical £15,000 per annum, reported The Times recently.
It’s not just this helpless old man, there are several other hundreds of tenants who have been faithful tenants for long who face the prospect of rent increases that are unrealistically high. With over 5,000 homes owned by this charitable trust, there are over 10,000 tenants who don’t know where to go with their belongings.
There are some other problems as well. Most of these tenants are paying monthly rent payments, though in between several leases changed hands and were sold as long leaseholds. The lease agreements were drawn long back with 49-year terms, and the rents fixed were obviously based on the cost of living index prevailing then.
With most of the leases periods nearing maturity, the tenants are forced to apply for extensions. That’s when the National Trust puts its foot down saying the lease agreements cannot be extended on the same terms. The tenants have two options: either pay increased rental charges, or pay huge deposits in order to “buy up” or make up for the low ground rent they are paying.
The quandary the old man is finding himself in is that he has to cough up close to £80,000, along with some 300 others who find themselves in the same fix. What with the Government ministers pledging to ban what they refer to as “feudal” leases, and replace such rents with hefty ground rents, for which they are able to find gullible buyers through building companies.
The National Trust is not altogether merciless and is trying to reduce the “ground rents” by at least 50% for certain genuine cases, though even after such a huge discount, the amount payable is far beyond the means of the hapless tenants. While some at the National Trust feel that the leaseholders may have been misled by unscrupulous agents, they are willing to consider letting such tenants off the hook by waiving off the “ground rent” deposit demand altogether. If that should come to pass by some act of providence, the tenants who are already in a sad plight might get some succour after all. One can only wait and watch the future course of events.