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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Replacing leasehold with commonhold - put your views to the housing minister

In recent weeks our campaign to replace leasehold with commonhold has continued to gather momentum both in the press and across social media.

As part of our efforts to support this worthwhile cause, we’ve so far outlined the major issues faced by leasehold landlords and homeowners and chronicled the nationwide battle to make the system a fairer one. We’ve also spoken to a range of industry experts who gave their views on the flaws of the current system and why commonhold is a viable alternative.

Now, in the third part of our ongoing campaign, we are giving our readers the chance to put their questions on leasehold and commonhold directly to Heather Wheeler – MP for South Derbyshire, de facto Housing Minister and a key figure at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

While the government has talked tough on ending abusive and unfair leasehold practices since 2017, when the full scale of the leasehold scandal was first revealed, it has still been short on action.

Feedback to the consultation on ‘Implementing reforms to the leasehold system’ – which closed in November last year – is still being analysed, with the most decisive action taken by the government so far being a recent industry pledge, announced by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire, to end toxic leasehold deals.

The government previously promised to ban leaseholds on all new-build homes, but recent Land Registry figures suggest some 26,000 new-builds were sold on a leasehold basis in 2018, while separate findings from OkayLah.co.uk found that a total of 25% of all properties sold through Help to Buy in England since the government scheme began have been done so on a leasehold basis.

Findings such as this embolden those who accuse the government of merely paying lip service to the leasehold scandal, with many expecting genuine leasehold reform to still be some way off, particularly with the distractions caused by Brexit and other housing issues. If anything, it’s the Law Commission who are doing a lot of the legwork on leasehold reform, with plans for a radical reshaping of the system, the recent publication of its consultation on commonhold reform, and its proposals for a final report, and assisting the government with the implementation of its recommendations, at some point in 2019.

With the government still working on its response to the consultation on how to reform the leasehold system, there is every chance it could be next year before any concrete proposals are revealed. But is the government being too slow in its response or just carrying out due care and attention on an incredibly important and emotive subject?

Who is to blame for the leasehold scandal and is the government doing enough to protect leasehold landlords?

And why are new-build homes still being sold as leasehold nearly two years after the government said it would ban this practice?

Additionally, is commonhold the best alternative to the current system? Or are there other solutions that should also be considered?

If you’ve been badly affected by the leasehold scandal and would like your voice heard by a government minister, or if you just have a strong opinion on the matter regardless of personal involvement, this is the chance to send in your questions.

Please leave a comment underneath this article to get the discussion going. Alternatively, you can email press@landlordtoday.co.uk, send a tweet to @Landlord_Today or post a question on Landlord Today’s Facebook page.

We will then collate these questions and they will collectively be put to Heather Wheeler. We will report back at a later date with any official responses from Wheeler and MHCLG appearing in the breaking news section of this site.

Words by Matthew Lane, Angels Media. 

  • Algarve  Investor

    Before I concentrated on investing in overseas property, I dabbled in property investment in the UK but was luckily warned of the potential pratfalls and complications of buying a leasehold home. Seems I was guided in the right direction given the horror stories you regularly read in the press about people stuck in homes that are impossible to sell, with ground rents doubling every 10 years. Ridiculous that the government is still selling new-build homes as leasehold and that a quarter of homes sold through Help to Buy are also leasehold - on the one hand they say they are serious about tackling the leasehold crisis, on the other they continue to sell homes which are leasehold! Anyway, here's my question for Heather Wheeler. "Why are any homes being sold as leasehold in the UK? In the past, flats were leasehold and houses were freehold, but in recent years we've seen an increasing number of houses being sold on a leasehold basis - including in the government's own flagship Help to Buy scheme. Why has there been an increase in houses being sold in this way and what is the government doing to prevent it?"


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    How does the government envisage the new homes ombudsman will oversee/tackle the leasehold sector when the post is introduced in the near future?

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    It wont be introduced, just vote gathers at the moment, i challenge them to what is right!

  • Paul Barrett

    Freehold is the obvious way that all property should be held.
    Flats cannot be freehold due to the fact they are flats and therefore common areas need to be attended to by some form of official structure.
    Commonhold facilitates this.
    Commonholders of flats are capable of managing the Total Freehold of a development.
    They could choose to sub-contract to a management company or they could could do so by a committee of residents.
    Leases and ground rents should be abolished converting all to Commonhold.
    There should always be a backstop that if a Commonhold development is not managed correctly then the Council take over management and charge accordingly until other suitable arrangements are made.
    Housing Assoc should be prevented from preventing RTM and Commonhold.
    HA are the biggest obstacle to RTM and Commonhold.
    They should have one vote to represent all the properties they may own.
    Govt could on a certain day state that all leases etc are now Freehold or Commonhold and GR are all abolished.

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    For the life of me i don't understand why anyone would buy a leasehold house.

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