Housing Secretary commits to redress scheme for leaseholders

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that leaseholders will get a redress mechanism as he promised that long-awaited legislation on reform of the controversial form of tenure is on its way.

Speaking during an oral questions session in the House of Commons this week, Jenrick said a draft bill on banning leasehold houses and reducing ground rents would be published shortly.

He was also asked by Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen whether the Government will set up a mechanism for “leaseholders to seek proper redress for their genuine grievances?”

Jenrick responded: “Yes, we will.”

Redress for leaseholders wasn’t explicitly mentioned in December’s Queen’s Speech but the Government established a redress reform working group in January 2019 to help establish a single gateway to complaints covering the whole housing market.

This includes a New Homes Ombudsman for leaseholders but there haven’t been any other major announcements and there has been a new Prime Minister and General Election since then.

It is also unclear whether such a redress scheme would help existing leaseholders or only those from after the New Homes Ombudsman is in place.

Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “We know that the government has been extraordinarily keen to look at all aspects of leasehold property, whether enfranchisement, alleged mis-selling of property or rapidly escalating ground rents.

“They are also keen that the consumer shouldn’t be penalised and should be fully informed as to all obligations before purchasing the property.

“We’re not aware that a separate redress scheme for leasehold housing will be set up, but we are aware that the possibility of a New Homes Ombudsman is very real.”

Leasehold activists have refused to get too excited about Jenrick’s latest comments.

Sebastian O’Kelly, spokesman for the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, said: “I think it is an imprecise indication of action. Nothing more.

“The Government has not committed to redress anything, and redress exists in the courts.”

Katie Kendrick, founder of the National Leasehold Campaign, said: “The devil is in the detail of what proper redress will look like.

“Redress is something that existing leaseholders are really pushing for.

“If it was wrong for the future it was certainly wrong for the past, and it’s essential that existing leaseholders are not disadvantaged further by future reform.

“Retrospective action is paramount and leaseholders will continue to press Government until redress for all impacted is implemented.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said in a statement: “We have committed to filling a gap in redress provision for leaseholders by making a redress scheme mandatory for freeholders who do not use managing agents.

“We will be bringing forward legislation on this in due course.”

 

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