Over the border: Stortford MP calls for long-term abolition of leasehold ownership

Politics / Mon 4th Mar 2024 at 09:04am

JULIE MARSON, MP for Hertford and Stortford, has used a parliamentary debate to call for the long-term abolition of leasehold ownership in this country.

At a debate secured by Neil O’Brien, MP for Harborough, Mrs Marson cited numerous issues with leasehold ownership, including leaseholders’ lack of control over service charge fees and how difficult it is to extend a lease. She commented that in her view, leasehold ownership is not true home ownership.

Leasehold ownership is where someone owns the space inside a dwelling for the duration of a lease but a separate individual or company owns the freehold. The leaseholder usually has to pay service charges and, in many cases, ground rent too.

The local MP cited many examples from her constituents. One saw a leaseholder met with a service charge that more-than-doubled between the exchange of contracts and completion of their new-build property. 

Another case study Julie raised is that of Thomas Childs who owns an apartment in Hertford with a doubling ground rent, currently at £750 per year. Mr Childs, who works locally as the director of Thomas Childs & Co estate agency in Hertford, wants to sell his apartment but has found that many mortgage companies will not lend due to the ground rent.

Speaking on his case, Mr Childs said:

“Freeholders and some management companies know that change is coming and are, in my opinion, taking advantage of leaseholders whist they can. I have been witness to Inflated service charges, bogus works and doubling ground rents as have many leaseholders trying to sell their homes.

“Mortgage companies and buyers of leasehold properties are increasingly put off immediately by these obscene charges and this in itself slows the housing market down.

“Leaseholds are out of date and attract extortion. A change is needed.”

In her speech, Julie Marson stated her supported for the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill which is currently going through the House of Lords after passing its Commons stages. However, Mrs Marson took the opportunity to invite the Minister to consider a two-step plan: ensure that all future flat sales come with a share of the freehold while working so that, eventually, all leaseholders become commonholders overnight.

Commonhold is a type of ownership whereby owners own their properties indefinitely and, in the case of flats, enables commonholders to effectively own and manage the building as a collective.

Commenting after the debate, Mrs Marson said:

“It was important for Parliament to debate an issue as important as this one. I know the problems that can derive from leasehold ownership. Some of the service charge and ground rent charges are far too high and some leaseholders are living in a nightmare.

“There are too many horror stories associated with leasehold ownership. I totally appreciate the complexities of abolishing the feudal leasehold system. However, I am crystal clear that I want to see it totally abolished in the near future.

“I will keep pressing the Government on this and helping leaseholders in my constituency as much as I can with any issues they face.”

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1 Comment for Over the border: Stortford MP calls for long-term abolition of leasehold ownership:

Guy Flegman
2024-03-04 12:33:10

Who invented leasehold. You get the worst of rental and worst of ownership. Lose lose to me

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