Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Wicklow County council tells estate residents to pay developer's fees

The Sunday Business Post recently reported how Wicklow County Council was chasing occupants of an Avoca housing estate for development levies which were unpaid by developer KJK Kilbride, now dissolved.

Even by Irish standards, this is a new low.

Bankers, developers and speculators - both private individuals and companies - have been bailed out, with many failed developers still living the high life even as their loans have been bought at multiples of what they borrowed for is really worth by Nama (read taxpayer).

Likewise, there are many buy-to-let investors sitting on properties and not paying back mortgages, even when they could, as their "investments" have dropped in value.  

Now we have a county council, pleading poverty and a lack of funds, pursuing aspiring owner-occupier mortgage payers for money a developer should have paid before anyone moved into the estate.

For those who did not get involved in pumping up the property bubble back in the day, it seems it is only a lose-lose situation in our crazy little country.  A country where the sensible and prudent are punished while  the reckless and profligate are rewarded.

No wonder they never seem to learn from their mistakes.

The following excellent summary was taken from a poster going by the name of Damus, on Politics.ie

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Wicklow County Council Now Targeting Homeowners for Unpaid Development Levies! 

This really takes the biscuit....there's an article in todays SBP by Michelle Devane about how Wicklow County Council is pursuing homeowners for the payment of unpaid development levies that is owed to them by the developer. This move by WCC may have wider implications for other homeowners in similar estates around the country who may find themselves in a similar predicament if WCC are allowed to get away with this.

And this is the reason why I am highlighting this - someone has to say enough is enough - and hopefully the information that I am putting out in the public domain will help these homeowners!

Twenty-four homeowners have received letters of demand from WCC telling them that they will have to pay the unpaid development levies of between €2,300 to €4,803 for Brook Meadow estate in Avoca. The letter demanding payment within 10 weeks also "threatens" them with a fine of up to €13k or up to two years imprisonment for the criminal offence of non-payment .

The firm behind the Brook Meadow Scheme, KJK Kilbride was dissolved last year after the directors of the company sought a voluntary strike-off from the CRO....now I'll come back to this particular point later. While there are 54 houses in the estate, only 24 homeowners have received letters demanding a total payment of €65,260.

WCC told the SBP that the development levies were a charge on the property and not on the developer. Seemingly, WCC seems to think that homeowners have a contractual obligation to pay levies that are unpaid by a developer, which is odd considering the levies are attached to the planning permission which is sought by the developer not the homeowners. The warning letter seeking payment referred to how under "Condition 3" attached to planning permission that WCC was pursuing the developer for the unpaid levies, but that it was also obliged to pursue the property owner for the unpaid levies. Yet condition 3 actually states that "the developer shall pay" the sum of €1,200 per house - nothing about the homeowner actually being liable for the levy!

So the first question is why are the letters demanding payment only being sent to 24 homeowners? Are the remaining properties in the development unsold, with the council expecting the 24 homeowners to pick up the tab for the 30 unsold properties? Perhaps the more interesting point is that WCC maintains that "it is normal practice when purchasing a house to hire professionals to check if there are any obligations pertaining to the property concerned. During such a process, these debts would be flagged at the time of the purchase". Well I am sure that WCC is also aware that it is also normal procedure as part of a voluntary strike off for the directors to seek a Revenue statement clarifying there are no obligations relating to the company seeking a strike-off. It is also normal procedure for a notice to be put in the newspapers notifying all interested parties that the company is seeking a strike-off.


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anna said...

HEAR , HEAR!!! and did anyone see the TV programme on Michael Fingleton and Irish Nationwide society last night? ...when auditors were finally called in they were aghast- a bank that eventually cost Irish taxpayer 5 billion +,payments made up of up to 2 million with NO paper work or audit trail, a payment of 200,000 to a co auditors could Not Trace, at the address given, - no paperwork for what Any of these a large payments were for ...oh and eventually most of IN's business was with just Thirty clients...mostly developers....YES there will eventually be trials.... they are only trying to put off the day.

Ella said...

Depending on when this estate was built and the size of mortgages people took out on their properties, in addition to "owing" WCC a few grand (surely that was already paid to the developer in the purchase price?) these people may also be in negative equity.

mmm, yes there may be trials, but indeed where do they get us? Millions of tax payers money effectively wasted and those "white collar crims" get a smack on the wrist, end of..

What a rotten little country.

John said...

Great example of the new art of bully politics, i.e. you go after the weakest party. The wealthy are protected in that they will run to the High Court for a "Review" or prosecute someone for defaming g their "good" name. The rigged system of law and politics in this State are protected as never before. Interesting that the word "Reform" or cuts against the interest of the working class are never used in relation to the very small economic elite. Chances for change?? I see that FF are the second biggest part according to a recent poll.

DC3 said...

Opportunistic and I ain't talking about OIIIRRREELNDS Got Talent