A RESIDENT is worried about an estate management company hiking the cost of an annual maintenance fee that homeowners are forced to pay.

County councillor Tony Miller previously claimed that some residents at Cherry Tree Park, in Bevere, near Worcester, bought their properties without knowing about the 'fleecehold' charge.

Bellway, which built Cherry Tree Park, said it would expect SDL Property Management, which looks after the estate, to keep any fee increases in line with general inflation.

Claire Nuttall, who lives on the estate, said: "You have to pay about £120. It's called an estate charge. I'm concerned that it could go up. It's a management company that run it and they can charge whatever they deem necessary.

"We knew we had to pay it when we moved in. There's no cap on how much the charge can be increased by. I know one person on an estate in Bromsgrove who had to pay £400 this year, compared to £100 for the first fee she paid."

Ms Nuttall said the latest annual payment was actually £10 less than the year before, although she noted that the gardeners did not have to cut as much grass this summer, due to the heat.

A spokesman for Bellway said: “Maintaining play areas, open spaces and other outdoor amenities play an important part of creating a community which is a great place to live for years to come.

"It is now common practice for management companies to maintain these areas, which requires a charge. At Bellway, we always give purchasers this information upfront and we appoint reputable management companies which keep costs to a minimum.

"Ultimately the charges are decided by the companies, but we would expect any increases to be reasonable and in line with general inflation.

"At Cherry Tree Park, we have appointed SDL Property Management, which manages over 30,000 properties in the UK and is a member of the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM)."