Many people own, or aspire to own, a home. In England and Wales, flats and houses are almost always owned on either:-
(i) A freehold basis (ownership that lasts forever and generally gives a fairly extensive control of the property); or
(ii) A leasehold basis (time limited ownership and control of the property is shared with, and limited by, the freehold owner).
Residential leasehold has, for some time, been hitting the headlines, with concerns being raised about high and escalating ground rents making leasehold homes unmortgageable/ unsaleable, the charging by landlords of unreasonable permission fees to carry out alterations to a property, and close relationships between property developers and particular conveyancers which may threaten the latter’s independence. In December 2017 the Government announced that it would ban the sale of houses on a leasehold basis, and prevent developers from selling leases that contain an obligation to pay any money as ground rent. Those measures will only apply to future sales of houses, and of future leases. They will not, therefore, affect existing leaseholders. As part of its December 2017 announcement the Government said it would consider further measures that could assist existing leaseholders and the Law Commission has now set out its key proposals on Leasehold Reform (which can be found at www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/leasehold-enfranchisement) with a full consultation paper due in autumn 2018.
The primary objectives are:-
- To simply enfranchisement legislation (including the removal of the requirement that a leaseholder must have owned the property for 2 years before making a claim to buy the freehold).
- To provide a better deal for leaseholders as consumers.
- To promote transparency and fairness in the residential leasehold sector.
The current legislation is complex, inconsistent and costly, and it is hoped that these issues will be lessened, if not resolved, by the implementation of the Law Commission’s recommendations in due course. With 94% of leasehold homeowners having regrets about buying on this basis and 60% feeling they were mis-sold (in a recent poll for the National Association of Estate Agents) it seems that changes cannot come quickly enough for homebuyers.
If you have any queries or require any assistance in relation to leasehold matters please do not hesitate to contact Debbie Whiteley at DFW@nexussolicitors.co.uk or on 0161 819 4920.
Any and all information on this website is general information and is not legal or other advice. Nexus Solicitors Limited is not responsible for any loss which may arise from relying on the information on this site.