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Proposed reforms will give leaseholders ‘greater control over their homes’

A series of recommendations recently published by the Law Commission of England and Wales could soon transform the future of home ownership in England and Wales. 

The package of reforms could make it easier for property owners, including buy-to-let landlords, to purchase the freehold or extend their lease, and even take control of the management of their block of flats or an estate. 

It has been estimated there are at least 4.3 million leasehold homes in England alone. If enacted, the reforms would help those owners and pave the way for a system where flats are sold with freehold title (as part of a commonhold). 


These reforms – laid out in three reports – work in tandem with proposed changes from the government to create fit-for-purpose home ownership across England and Wales. The Commission’s reforms will lay the foundations for future home ownership to be freehold and tackle some key issues that existing leaseholders currently face.

This would be done by reinvigorating commonhold, which enables people to own a flat forever, with a freehold title and no landlord, as an option to replace leasehold for newly-built flats. Recommended reforms would also give leaseholders a route out of leasehold by making it easier to convert to commonhold.

In addition, the reforms would aim to improve the existing system for existing leaseholders by improving the process by which leaseholders can buy the freehold or extend their lease (“enfranchisement”). The Commission’s recommendations would create an improved enfranchisement regime that would be simpler and cheaper for leaseholders in flats and houses.
Finally, it would be made easier and cheaper for leaseholders to take over the management of their building without buying the freehold, by exercising the right to manage (“RTM”). The RTM lets leaseholders take control of services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, and insurance.

Professor Nick Hopkins, commissioner for property law, said: “The leasehold system is not working for millions of homeowners in England and Wales. We have heard how the current law leaves them feeling like they don’t truly own their home.
“Our reforms will make a real difference by giving leaseholders greater control over their homes, offering a cheaper and easier route out of leasehold, and establishing commonhold as the preferred alternative system. The reforms will provide a better deal for leaseholders and make our homes work for us, and not somebody else.”
These comprehensive and much anticipated reports mark a significant step towards much needed reform, according to Julie James MS, minister for Housing and Local Government, Welsh Government.
She commented: “It is clear that the current leasehold system often fails resident leaseholders and these reports will give us a better understanding of the issues involved; we now need to take the time to consider them carefully. 
“The Law Commission have undertaken a mammoth task in unpicking the current law, engaging widely on the options for change, and putting forward comprehensive recommendations and I’m grateful to them for their excellent work.”

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  • Uwa Uhumuavbi

    This proposed reform of Leasehold is a welcome development. The current system treats leaseholders like second class citizens. It is less than acceptable situation where owners watch the value of their homes decrease with time due to reduction in lease.

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    I would not touch anything leasehold, but convert to commonhold with a share of the freehold and a right for all to manage would be a totally different ball game, will it happen though?

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    • 18 August 2020 17:28 PM

    It would certainly enhance the value of flats which are currently the poor relation of freehold houses.

    That would be a good thing as ultimately flats provide more accommodation for the same footprint of a few houses.

    All residential property should be freehold.
    The illusion of every OO having their own castle is a good thing.
    Ownership is what having a property is all about.
    Leasehold is just renting from the Freeholder.
    Simply not acceptable.

    Proper ownership is how capital is generated.
    A very good thing which promotes other beneficial economic activity.


    Your flat is four storeys up. How do you have a freehold on a box of air? Freeholds only exist for the ground. You need one of two options, common hold or a free hold buyout and a common management company. The management company can grant lease hold extensions at nominal cost. This avoids "messing" with the freehold which is an expensive process.

    I am no expert but I have been involved in this three times now. The key point is that the original free holder must sell if the leaseholders and their management company demand to purchase the same. Sometimes flats built thirtyish years ago were given the freehold by the builders. Check if this was the case and a management company is claiming ownership of the freehold when it is not theirs to sell. I scuppered just such a plot!

    Personally I don't think there is much need for new legislation.

    Matthew Payne

    I agree Fred. Where there are communal parts, shared rooves, drains, access, etc you can't have freehold flats, not workable. Since 2002, there has been the right to buy FHs at market value provided there is appetite from at least 50% of LHs. Hence you might see properties advertised as Share of Freehold by agents. Lease extensions then become an administrative task alone.


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