Labour to force vote on ending ‘feudal’ leasehold system

Michael Gove

Labour will force a vote on ending leaseholds, describing the watering down of the government’s pledge to abolish the system as a “scandal”.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove last week appeared to confirm reports he was dropping plans to abolish the leasehold system.

Gove is expected next month to announce a range of measures to protect the 10 million or so Britons who own their homes in a leasehold.

The measures are expected to include a cap on ground rents, more powers for tenants to choose their own property management firm and a ban on building owners forcing leaseholders to pay any legal costs incurred as part of a dispute.

However, The Guardian reports that Gove will stop short of scrapping leaseholds altogether, despite a pledge made in January to end it this year.

He had previously promised to introduce legislation to “fundamentally reform” the system, which he had criticised as “feudal”.

Labour will on Tuesday bring forward a vote on a motion that would call on Gove to keep his promise “by ending the sale of new private leasehold houses, introducing a workable system to replace private leasehold flats with commonhold and enacting the Law Commission’s recommendations on enfranchisement, commonhold and the right to manage in full”.

Shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy commented: “It is nothing short of a scandal that despite near-universal agreement that leasehold is a feudal form of tenure that should be a thing of the past, there is still no timetable for ending leasehold on new builds and introducing a workable system of commonhold to replace existing leasehold homes.

“We cannot have more delays or broken promises because of rows within government.

“Today MPs from all parties can join Labour in voting to end the leasehold system, implement the Law Commission’s recommendations in full, and deliver long-overdue justice to millions of families.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We will bring forward leasehold reforms later in this Parliament, in line with our manifesto commitment.

“As the Secretary of State has made clear in the House many times, we remain determined in our promise to better protect and empower leaseholders to challenge unreasonable costs and make it easier and cheaper for them to extend their lease or buy their freehold.

“These build on the significant improvements we have already made to the market – including ending ground rents for most new residential leases.”


Government plans to scrap leasehold system dropped


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  1. Rob Hailstone

    There is a mountain of complicated work to do if Commonhold is to replace leasehold. If not done property could end up worse than the Building Safety Act legislation!

    1. A W

      HA! The Government doing something properly… good one.

  2. whitby64

    I listened to Lisa Nandy on the radio yesterday and she clearly has no idea whatsoever about leasehold property. She was adamant that “many” buyers don’t know there are only a few years left on the lease until after they buy. So how do they get a mortgage? The interviewer queried that surely it was the duty of the lawyer acting to point this out but according to Lisa Nandy “it should be but many don’t”. I appreciate many purchasers don’t really understand the nuances of leasehold purchase but when you embark on the biggest purchase in your life you have to take some responsibility to know what you are doing. This is yet another, knee-jerk, vote-winning, announcement favoured by all sides of the house with an election on the horizon.

    1. CountryLass

      It is the job of the solicitor, she is correct on that, but you are right that the buyer has the responsibility to look over the information provided! And HOW does someone not notice ‘only a few’ years left on a lease?? I once struggled for over a year to sell a leasehold house that had around 67 years left on the lease due to the freeholder wanting about £9k to sell it and make it freehold. 
       Leasehold houses should be banned, or at least be leasehold in perpetuity with a peppercorn rent of say £120 a year? And maybe similar for flats, with a mandatory change of managing agents every 5 years, unless proof is provided that all occupants 100% agree to renew the current one as other options have been rejected by all occupants.

  3. forwardthinker

    This is one of the areas wholly abused by managing agents and freeholders, that seems to avoid any legal penalties for such abuse.

    The current system is archaic and totally unfair on leaseholders. Some of our clients have properties where there are difficulties in liaising with other leaseholders to manage themselves, most are out of area or abroad. Managing agents use their own contractors submit inflated build costs, profiteering leaving the few owner occupiers ripped off and there’s not much that can be done about it.

    Periodic escalation of ground rents again totally unfair abuse by freeholders. Costs to extend lease of a property that was bought, but not actually owned??

    With Labour this is the only policy I’ve ever agreed with. As for Michael Gove… Well we all know a lot of members will be freeholders or shares in freehold companies so he’ll be getting barracked this move is not in their interests, so no surprise he is winding back.

  4. LVW4

    Just a point of order, but Marc Da Silva really should get his facts right… “Britons who own their homes in a leasehold.” The only ‘owners’ in leasehold are freeholders. Leaseholders are simply tenants, but with fewer rights than renters. 
    As to the subject matter, while I absolutely agree with the need for wholesale reform, if not abolishment of leasehold, this is just virtue signalling by Labour. It is a non-binding vote. Indeed, Sir Starmer has already rolled back on this by referring to reforms benefiting ‘future leaseholders’. Nandy and her boss need to get their act together.


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