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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Quiz The Minister: send questions on replacing leasehold with commonhold

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, 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 leaseholders/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@lettingagentoday.co.uk, send a tweet to @LA_Today or post a question on Letting Agent 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.

  • Neil Moores

    I have a question for the minister. As someone who has experienced the inability for people, sharing a private drive of only 8 houses, to contribute to the costs of keeping it in good repair, how can we be certain that Commonhold will have enough enforceable regulations to ensure that blocks do not become neglected or fail to comply with current & evolving health and safety regulations?

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    Cannot understand that purchasers are still buying Leasehold houses. Cannot understand that the solicitors office is not explaing all the pitfalls, exactly as you would recieve on a leasehold flat.
    This is scandalous and really summes up people ignorance and lack of government care and responsibility

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    The government reaction to the new build leasehold house scandal is understandable however it has had an unintentional and significant knock-on effect to existing leasehold flats. Mortgage companies are apparently raising objections re ground rent and so buyers solicitors are asking for Deeds of Variation to be applied to existing, often ancient leases. The Deed is to require the freeholder to give 28 days notice to the mortgage provider should the owner of the leasehold flat be defaulting on the ground rent. This is because such default is usually a breach of a covenant in the lease which could permit the freeholder to foreclose. By giving the mortgage provider notice they will pay the outstanding debt and add it back to the mortgage, protecting their investment. It is utterly impractical to try to apply such Deeds of Variation to millions of leases across the country, very expensive and time consuming too. Right now there is no Indemnity Insurance to cover this issue. It has caused several leasehold sales we are handling to abort and others to stall, even where the buyer is cash (due to them being advised by their solicitor to hold off until a solution is found).
    This unexpected problem needs a resolution quickly please.

  • Suzy OShea

    More examples of how allowing only the market to regulate itself has resulted in profiteering by unscrupulous vendors, who ought never to have been permitted to sell houses without a 999 year lease or free-hold! Its yet another example of the lack of governance from this brexit-blinded maladministration! It would serve the profiteering vendors right if their so-called leases were cancelled and they were forced to provide freehold ownership to all house owners for the perimeter of their property. what happens beyond could then be held in common hold with an annual service charge to be paid by house owners to maintain the road and pavements.

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    The mail system

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