A new 10-point manifesto designed to drive forward leasehold reform has been published by a prominent leasehold reform campaigner, following the delay to the publication of the Law Commission’s report on improving the lease extension process.
Louie Burns, managing director of enfranchisement specialists The Leasehold Solutions Group, said: “Empty promises on leasehold reform are all leaseholders have heard over the last three years. Despite numerous proposals there have been no changes to legislation and the timetable for reform continues to slip, with the Law Commission’s long-awaited report on valuation, expected in October, the latest deadline to be missed.
“Leaseholders deserve the reforms they have been promised, to make leasehold enfranchisement quicker, easier and cheaper. Our manifesto proposes the radical reforms that are necessary to quickly end the leasehold scandal and we hope that the Law Commission will follow suit by publishing similarly bold recommendations for the Government to consider.”
Here are the key areas where the Leasehold Solutions Group believes changes are required immediately:
+ Ban the sale of all leasehold houses, as the law has not been changed and developers are technically still able to sell houses on a leasehold basis.
+ Set ground rents on new build flats to zero, as leasehold properties are still being built with onerous ground rents.
+ Prescribe the valuation elements for lease extensions and freehold acquisitions, to make the process of enfranchisement easier and cheaper for leaseholders.
+ Stop leaseholders paying for the removal of flammable cladding, as leaseholders were not responsible for choosing the construction materials for their block and bought their properties in good faith.
+ Regulate managing agents, to ensure that leaseholders receive fair treatment at an acceptable cost and in a transparent manner.
+ Change the qualification criteria for freehold purchases, to ensure that all buildings can legally qualify for a freehold acquisition by the leaseholders or the Right to Manage process.
+ Ban the AST loophole, to ensure that freeholders can no longer force leaseholders into forfeiture of their property by converting the lease into an assured shorthold tenancy.
+ Introduce Right to Manage for estate charges, to give leaseholders on estates the right to challenge unfair charges, ensure that charges are reasonable and change their rent charge owners where necessary.
+ Ban informal lease extensions and freehold purchases, to ensure that leaseholders use and are protected by the statutory enfranchisement mechanism.
+ Make forfeiture of leasehold properties illegal for minor infringements, to protect leaseholders from disproportionate punishment if they owe small amounts of ground rent (e.g. £350) or cannot pay fees for major works.
Burns concluded: “Leasehold is an anachronism and a hangover from feudal times; it defies logic and fairness and is utterly unfit for the 21st century. We are now at a crucial point in the battle for leasehold reform and, with an early election now inevitable, leasehold reform is a real vote winner. Leaseholders need to make their voices heard now by petitioning their MPs harder than ever, or face losing the chance for significant leasehold reform for another generation.”