New reforms unveiled to ‘finally deliver justice’ for leaseholders

Local MP Tracy Brabin is backing new plans that could see homeowners affected by the leasehold scandal in Batley and Spen save thousands of pounds.

It comes after a Labour Party report, released today, proposes to ‘bring justice for leaseholders’ by capping unfair costs such as ground rents and to investigate instances of mis-selling

New figures released today show an estimated nine per cent of homes in Batley & Spen were sold as leasehold last year.

But reforms to leasehold promised by the Conservative Government have still not been implemented, two years after they were first proposed.

Batley and Spen MP said said: “This is about fixing an outdated and broken system that that could finally deliver justice for leaseholders.

“For too long many leaseholders have faced extortionate fees, terrible service and restrictive contact terms, with no way to easily challenge them.

“It’s time for us to catch up with the rest of the world and put an end to this feudal system that has been causing misery for too long.”

 Leasehold ownership, most commonly found in flats, means purchasing a home for the duration of a long lease rather than owning it outright.

Homeowners who purchase a leasehold property are often faced with extortionate charges in the form of ‘ground rents’ or service charges and locked into restrictive contracts which were not properly explained.

The Labour Party plans, set out in a consultation today by Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP and Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Jones MP, include a ban on the sale of new leasehold houses and flats.

Leaseholders will be able to buy the full, freehold ownership of their home for 1% of the property value, with ground rents in existing leaseholds capped at 0.1% of the property value, up to a maximum of £250 a year.

Labour’s proposals mean the average household in Batley & Spen would see their annual ground rent capped at £130, with the cost of buying their freehold reduced to just £1,300 according to analysis published today.

Other proposals set out by Labour today include:

  • A crack down on unfair fees and contract terms, and a right to challenge unfair fees or poor service.
  • New rights to empower leaseholders to hire and fire their managing agent, or to take over management of their homes themselves.
  • A promise to revitalise commonhold: an alternative to leasehold – forms of which are used successfully across the world.

The report also renews Labour’s calls for a full public inquiry into mis-selling in the leasehold market which saw thousands of properties sold with extortionate terms such as doubling ground rents, making them unsellable.

ENDS

At least 4.3 million homes across England are owned on a leasehold basis, with many leaseholders facing exploitative ground rents, onerous contract terms and arbitrary fees paid to their freeholder.

These changes will up-end the current rules disadvantaging leaseholders, which stretch back to the middle ages. For a property in England priced at £250,000 with a 90 year lease, Labour’s proposals could mean the cost of buying the freehold is slashed from over £10,000 to £2,500 – a saving of almost £8,000, plus expensive legal fees.

The report can be found in full here http://www.sarah-jones.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2019/07/12506_19-Labours-New-Deal-for-Leaseholders-document.pdf

To end leasehold and ensure no leaseholder is left trapped against their will in this broken system, the next Labour Government plans the following five radical changes.

  1. End the sale of new private leasehold houses with direct effect and the sale of private leasehold flats by the end of our first term in Government.
  2. End ground rents for new leasehold homes, and cap ground rents for existing leaseholders at 0.1% of the property value, up to a maximum of £250 a year.
  3. Set a simple formula for leaseholders to buy the freehold to their home, or commonhold in the case of a flat, capped at 1% of the property value.
  4. Crack down on unfair fees and contract terms by publishing a reference list of reasonable charges, requiring transparency on service charges and giving leaseholders a right to challenge rip-off fees and conditions or poor performance from service companies.
  5. Give residents greater powers over the management of their homes, with new rights for flat-owners to form residents associations and by simplifying the Right to Manage.

 

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