The UK competition regulator has deepened its investigation into four of the country’s biggest housebuilders over their treatment of leaseholders.

The Competition and Markets Authority said on Friday it had “uncovered troubling evidence of potentially unfair terms concerning ground rents in leasehold contracts and potential mis-selling”.

It said it was “concerned that leasehold homeowners may have been unfairly treated and that buyers may have been misled by developers”.

Enforcement action has been opened against Persimmon Homes, Barratt Developments, Countryside Properties and Taylor Wimpey. The CMA said it had written to the groups “outlining its concerns and requiring information”.

The regulator said potential outcomes included legal commitments that would change the way the groups do business and that “if necessary” it could take the companies to court.

“It is unacceptable for housing developers to mislead or take advantage of homebuyers,” CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said. “If our investigation demonstrates that there has been mis-selling or unfair contract terms, these will not be tolerated.”

Barratt said on Friday, in reply to the CMA announcement, that it “is committed to putting its customers first and will continue to co-operate with the CMA whilst it completes its investigation”.

Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Countryside could not be immediately reached for comment.

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