I was pleased to see my colleague Hefin David MS continuing to call for the better regulation of estate management fees at a recent Senedd Petitions committee.

I have been working for some years with local residents on this issue and have raised concerns with developers, estate management companies and on the floor of the Senedd chamber.

Developers often hand the management of shared spaces on new housing estates, such as grassed areas, car parks and roads, to estate management companies, who then charge a yearly maintenance fee.

This practice has become increasingly common on new private housing estates where owners are liable to pay fees to cover the cost of maintaining, renewing, and repairing unadopted shared spaces. While you would expect to pay these types of charges in flats or apartments, you would not necessarily expect them on a freehold house.

Complaints I have received include the initial mis-selling, where buyers say they are not informed of any charges or are informed at such a late stage they feel there is no option but to accept them, a lack of transparency in costs with sometimes significant and unreasonable increases on service charges and sub-standard and/or non-existent work.

There have also been complaints about the administration charges imposed by the management companies being excessive and sometimes higher than charges for the actual work carried out.

These fees are bound to the property through the title deeds and, where there is any dispute, this can affect any resale or re-mortgage of the property.

It is a very complex area, especially in relation to freehold owners. Unlike leasehold service charges where there is recourse to a tribunal, there is no alternative dispute resolution available to freeholders. Although these charges can be disputed in a county court, this is a costly process which is often unaffordable and means that these homeowners are left with no redress.

It clear that we need better regulation and a clear dispute resolution process to ensure fairness and transparency.

Working with colleagues and the Welsh Government I am keen to resolve this difficult and complex issue to prevent future homeowners facing the same difficult situations that I have been hearing about from local residents.