LEASEHOLDERS and their families could be in line for thousands of pounds in compensation after being badly advised by their legal firms in property deals.

Big property developers have been accused of selling freeholds of houses from under the feet of families to third party pension and investment funds.

Many families bought their new-build estate properties under a long-term lease unaware of any associated risks and fees in the so-called ‘leasehold scandal’.

But since then freeholders have demanded spiralling ground rents from householders as part of their contract which will often double every 10 years.

Under the leasehold scheme someone signed on with a doubling ground rent costing £295 a year in 2008 would pay an eye watering £182,000 over 50 years.

In some cases, these ground rents have left people seriously out of pocket and unable to sell their homes and others facing bills of tens of thousands to buy back their property freehold.

Now in a cruel twist of fate proposals by the Law Commission designed to protect leaseholders by allowing them to extend their leases to 990 years will not help those already in leasehold properties - only new buyers.

And threatened legal action by Government agency the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) isn’t expected to start until next year at the earliest and only involves four house developers.

Meanwhile residents of Dale Moor View in Rawtenstall, Albion Gate in Leyland and Buckshaw Village near Chorley as well as other estates in Rossendale and Accrington and surrounding areas across East Lancashire are stuck on onerous leases.

Now some of these cases are being investigated by professional negligence expert Robert Godfrey, a partner at Lancaster-based Simpson Millar.

Mr Godfrey, who is already representing 240 leasehold victims caught in the scandal, said: “These families have been let down from start to finish.

“Unfortunately, any new changes are too little too late and won’t help those who already bought their leasehold properties before 2018. They should be made retrospectively to help those already stuck on outrageous leasehold terms.

“These are hard-working families who should have been looked after, not taken advantage of. Now many of them are trapped in their homes unable to sell or afford to purchase their freehold back and saddled with spiralling rents

“Many of those affected have yet to take action.

“We are already investigating some cases in estates including Dale Moor View in Rawtenstall, Buckshaw Village near Chorley as well as helping residents in Oswaldtwistle.

“But we estimate there are hundreds more people in new-build estates all over East Lancs who have also been shortchanged with these leasehold deals.

“I believe people stuck in these onerous leaseholds could be owed many thousands of pounds for the negligent advice from their conveyancers.”

Mr Godfrey - who has also joined forces with pressure group National Leasehold Campaign - added: “It is abundantly clear from speaking with families that they didn’t understand the leasehold scheme.

“We are now in the process of settling claims for some householders against their developers after receiving offers over their ordeals.

“They received little advice about the risks of leaseholds and long term doubling of ground rents and onerous clauses and the fact that they were unable to buy their freehold for a period of years by which time the cost of doing so was prohibitive for most working families.

“A number of solicitors friendly with developers handled thousands of these sales. It was therefore not unreasonable for these families to have fully trusted them.”