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Pressure mounts on government over leasehold

Written by: Emma Lunn
A collective of organisations across the legal, property and mortgage sectors have called on the government to implement leasehold measures already announced by the government.

A number of improvements to leasehold law have been announced or supported by the government over the past two or three years, but these changes are yet to become law.

The organisations – which include the Conveyancing Association (CA), The Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC), the Property Redress Scheme, IMLA, RPSA, PropertyMark, Hunters, Property Information Products, Love Surveying, The Guild of Property Professionals and ULS Technology – have written an open letter to Michael Gove.

The letter asks the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities to bring into law the measures already announced, saying this would improve the lives of many leaseholders.

These include the implementation of the Law Commission reports on leasehold enfranchisement, right to manage, and commonhold, plus previously announced legislation on leasehold reform, reasonable fees and timescales for administrative activities, and managed freehold, which has yet to make the statute book.

The Legal Sector Group argues in its letter to Gove that further delay will lead to further consumer detriment ‘given the exploitation [of leaseholders] continues and increases with every passing day’.

It wants to see the government follow up quickly on the Leasehold Reform Bill – which aims to limit ground rents on long residential leases and was passed through the first stage of the House of Commons last month – with other bills covering the measures which it says are needed.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, said: “At the recent CA Annual Conference, we were told that Mr Gove is still in listening mode in terms of improving the home buying and selling process, however when it comes to improving the lives of so many leaseholders, the government has already done its listening and has outlined and supported a large number of measures which have full industry and market support, and would make a world of difference.

“In that sense, we are simply calling on the government to fulfil its obligations in this area. By doing this we can ensure leaseholders can set in motion parts of the property-owning democracy that are simply not open to many of them, such as selling their properties or securing a mortgage. Plus, we can move towards a much fairer system for all – the hard work has effectively been done and it is now time to move these measures through to their natural legislative conclusion where they will make a huge difference.”

Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme, said: “This is the time for government action to restore the confidence of leaseholders, who currently feel like second-class citizens in the property world. The redress schemes deal with the frustrations of leaseholders on a daily basis but are often powerless to help.

“The balance of power must shift back towards the consumer. The measures in the proposals will create a robust framework of rights and remedies and restore balance and fairness to the system that has been eroded as the market has evolved and changed, since the existing laws were introduced.”

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