Shocked homebuyers told their £180k homes are ‘worthless’ after builders go bust

Homeowners on a newly-built housing estate in Bradford have been trapped in “worthless” homes – and they’re still paying for them after the firm that built the houses went bust.

The thirteen properties built by Sherwood Homes are, the shocked households have now discovered, not built with planning permission.

The biggest area of concern is a disused landfill site which backs onto the estate which is still emitting potentially deadly methane gas.

Theoretically, the builders should have guarded against that by installing an anti-gas membrane under each property, but frustrated homeowners can’t confirm whether the work was done or not without tearing up their own foundations.

Ironically, Hamid Khan, who owns one of the Bradford homes, used to work for the local council’s planning application department.

Explaining the gas membrane problem to the BBC’s Rip-Off Britain programme, he said: “You can only verify it if you break the whole floor. It doesn’t make sense.

“You’re so close to a landfill site and to not install a gas membrane or not install it correctly.

“It’s just unheard of.”

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Hamid paid £180,000 for his house in 2016. Today, without adequate evidence that the house was built in line with safety regulations, it’s effectively worthless.

Chris Oliver and his wife Steph bought a three-bed house on the development in 2014. They paid £129,950, with a 20% Help to Buy loan.

When they decided to remortgage, the Olivers needed a valuation. Graphic designer Chris was stunned when the paperwork came back telling him his house was worth nothing at all.

Chris, 34, told the show: “Our hearts sank. We just thought, ‘what are we going to do?’

“There's been so many people who we should have been able to trust and rely on and no one wants to help.

He explained that they tried to contact the developers, not realising they had gone out of business: “There was no reply. They stopped answering phone calls and emails. We were just in a state of panic.”

There are dozens of other minor issues across the estate, but without the developers being available to look at them it will be very expensive for the homeowners to get them put right.

The original conveyancing solicitors have denied negligence but agreed to contribute towards finishing the necessary building work.

Homes England has also agreed to suspend interest payments on Help to Buy loans for affected residents.

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.”

Rip Off Britain airs on BBC One at 9:15am every weekday and is available on iPlayer immediately after broadcast

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