Transforming Leasehold System

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18 September, 2020

Scarlett Ash

The Law Commission has released a collection of reforms to improve home ownership in England and Wales. These will make it easier and cheaper for homeowners to buy the freehold or extend their lease, and to take control of the management of their block of flats or an estate.

The Law Commission is a statutory independent body which considers the law and areas of reform. The Government asked that they focus on enfranchisement earlier this year and they have recently published a report with a number of suggestions. Their brief was to make it simpler, easier, quicker and more cost effective, and to examine the options to reduce the price payable by leaseholders to enfranchise

The need for change has arisen as a result of the issues surrounding leasehold properties.

Professor Nick Hopkins, Commissioner for property law says -

"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."

The Law Commission say -

'This would be done by:

•Reinvigorating commonhold - which allows 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.

•Improving the current system for existing leaseholders by:

•Improving the process by which leaseholders can buy the freehold or extend their lease ("enfranchisement"). Our recommendations would create an improved enfranchisement regime that would be simpler and cheaper for leaseholders in flats and houses.

•Making it 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.'

It has been recognised that there is room for improvement within the leasehold system, these reforms are a welcome step to address this by offering alternatives. Overall, this is a positive change for leaseholders and we look forward to hearing further.

For more information contact Scarlett Ash in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 0333 207 1130. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Housing & Regeneration department here

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