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Not on estate agents' websites or those of chartered surveyors or those of the Eastbourne Borough Council or East Sussex County Council or by the Eastbourne office of the Citizen's Advice Bureau is it revealed that residential freeholders and leaseholders and their successors of Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour property are legally required by covenant to pay a unique Annual Estate Rentcharge of £263.55 per residential unit for 2020 in addition to council taxes, property insurance, management fees and ground rents. (The only partial-exemptions from this Annual Estate Rentcharge are for the first 364 homes built at Sovereign Harbour. They were exempt from the Marina Charge but are liable for the SW charge). All Annual Estate Rentcharge Deeds are registered by the Sovereign Harbour Trust and/or its Community Interest Company shown below with the Land Registry. Nowhere is it stated, as it surely should be, by any of these entities that this Annual Estate Rentcharge is unique to Sovereign Harbour residents, it does not apply in any other flood area or harbour or marina area or private estate anywhere else in Britain, the UK, Europe or the world. Nor do they state that much of it of it is for Environment Agency-provided flood defence. Also omitted by these entities is the fact that only Sovereign Harbour residents have to pay it. Yet this flood defence scheme covers a much wider flood zone area than just the 4,300 or so homes in Sovereign Harbour. In fact, more than 15,500 homes in areas of Pevensey, Pevensey Bay, Wealden District Council and beyond to Bexhill on Sea, 8 miles east also get this same flood defence service. But do they also pay for it? No, only Sovereign Harbour residents, via the Annual Estate Rentcharge. Sovereign Harbour homeowners are required in the lease and/or purchase deeds of each flat or house to  pay this to the Wellcome Trust-owned private Sovereign Harbour Trust via its private subsidiary the Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) Community Interest Company Ltd, to Premier Marinas, owned by The Wellcome Trust. When a property changes hands the new buyer is charged at least £120, an unwelcome additional charge of the total transaction cost. But completely omitted on the websites of the last four named entities is both any mention that this Annual Estate Rentcharge liability applies to Sovereign Harbour dwellers only, no one else, and that a charge for it is applied to newcomers. Nor is it mentioned anywhere on their websites that the only purpose of the Sovereign Harbour Trust's Sovereign Harbour (Sea Defences) Community Interest Company Ltd is to charge Sovereign Harbour residents the Annual Estate Rentcharge, not give them any beneficial community interest of any kind. While resident property owners and long-lease-holders are required to pay for this Annual Estate Rentcharge, businesses including all developers of Sovereign Harbour properties and their managing agents and property developers are exempted. A second unique covenant requires owners/leaseholders of 369 South Harbour properties in the water feature precinct to pay an additional annual charge of more than £328. It is the only such water feature in the world that applies such a charge to properties adjacent to or overlooking it. Notice about this second covenant is also withheld by most estate agents from prospective buyers of relevant Sovereign Harbour South properties. By deliberately not mentioning that this specific Annual Estate Rentcharge is payable by both freehold and leasehold homeowners, or disguising it as merely a standard harbour charge similar to other harbour areas, which it is not, estate agents who market Sovereign Harbour properties also fail to inform relevant banks and mortgage companies, many of whom for legal reasons may not approve mortgages on properties that are subject to an estate rentcharge.

Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne: before buying or leasing a property here know vital financial facts

Estate agents and surveyors do not obey legislation requiring full disclosure about expensive covenants unique-in-the-world to this area

By Keith A. Forbes. Disabled, he lives with his wife in the harbour and writes, administers and webmasters this website as a member of the UK's The Society of Authors and an activist for the elderly and disabled

Sovereign Harbour North

Two most recent pieces of legislation apply

They are the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (BPRs). The government took this step to reduce duplicate legislation regulating estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and lettings. The previous legislation, the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 (PMA), which had made it a criminal offence for estate agents to make false or misleading statements about properties being offered for sale, was repealed on 1 October 2013,

Estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and lettings should be aware that the 2008 Regulations now offer far more protection to individuals against misleading sales particulars and advertising than was the case earlier.

The CPRs prohibit all traders from using unfair commercial practices in their dealings with individual consumers, and estate agents in particular are prohibited from engaging in commercial practices that are unfair to sellers, buyers, potential sellers or potential buyers of residential property. The BPRs prohibit traders in all sectors, including estate agents, from using misleading practices in their business-to-business advertisements. This includes misleading marketing used to advertise property for sale. While the PMA only covered estate agents, the CPRs and BPRs are much wider in scope covering letting agents and property managers. 

The CPRs prohibit misleading actions that cause or are likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he or she would not have taken otherwise. A transactional decision is not just whether a consumer decides to purchase a property but also includes such things as to whether to view a property in the first place. A misleading action or omission includes omitting to mention any deeds or covenants or restrictions unique to an area such as those we alone in the UK, Europe and the world have to bear here in Sovereign Harbour. We know beyond any doubt this has caused some consumers, after hearing about the facts from present residents, to neither want to view nor buy or rent or lease any Sovereign Harbour property because of the extra costs and conditions of the Estate Rent charge and other factors that nowhere else imposes.

Although the CPRs and BPRs have now been in force since 2008, some are clearly still unfamiliar to many estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties and consumers.  This prompted the Office of Fair Trading to publish guidance specifically for estate agents on the new Regulations on what they need to know in applying descriptions on a property. They have been circulated and can be seen at https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/services/estate-agents-property-descriptions. There is also now a specified Code of Practice for all residential Estate Agents and relevant others. See it at https://www.tradingstandards.uk/media/documents/commercial/codes-of-practice/tpo-sales.pdf

Thus, Estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties to consumers need to be particularly careful about how they advertise properties for sale or lettings, and to make sure their particulars on properties are accurate. Describing properties as ‘stunning’, ‘desirable’ or in a ‘quiet area’ now require evidence to back up such statements. 

Estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties to consumers particulars that contain misleading omissions are also liable by the new Regulations. Agents who do not wish to be in contravention of the new rules and regulations are now expected to make sure they have all their client vendors or landlords check and sign off on the accuracy of their particulars. Agents should also ensure their staff are trained on making certain their particulars and advertising are compliant with the Regulations.

General disclaimers telling buyers not to rely on details are not effective in preventing offences. 

Estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and leasing or letting that breach either the CPRs or BPRs risk prosecution by their local authority trading standards services responsible for enforcement by bringing criminal prosecutions. On conviction, agents can face substantial fines or in more serious cases imprisonment.

Properties available

Estate Agents and other businesses involved in Sovereign Harbour property sales and lettings that ignore the above include:

Also see local house and flat prices at  http://www.home.co.uk/guides/house_prices.htm?location=eastbourne.

To comply fully with the 2008 CPRs and BPRs above, Estate Agents, developers and property managers should be stating the following on all Sovereign Harbour properties they market: 

Other factors you should consider:

http://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/money/property/buying-and-selling/avoid-the-six-sneaky-tricks-estate-agents-might-try 

Martello Tower 64 on Sovereign North Harbour beach

Martello Tower 64. Photo cc Keith and Lois Forbes

Beware of Places with an Estate Rent Charge (like Sovereign Harbour)

So say various law firms and entities below:

This author also, on a daily basis, writes, edits, manages, publishes and web-masters the following

165-plus webfiles of Bermuda Online

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Keith A. Forbes at editor@sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk
© 2020. Revised: September 20, 2020