New poll reveals limited appetite for Michael Gove’s leasehold ban

New polling suggests that just 18% of people would be comfortable assuming the legal and financial obligations for managing a building, as they would if the Government pushes ahead with its proposed reforms.

The findings come after the Department for Levelling up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) quietly published a key report last month which, says the Residential Freeholders Association (a representative organisation for the UK’s largest professional freeholders), undermines the Government’s own case for reform.

The Association says that the report suggests that the vast majority of people hold a positive or neutral view of the leasehold system in England and Wales – casting doubt on DLUHC’s leasehold reform agenda.

The Government report, which was released over a year after the initial research, was published on the department’s website on the last day before Parliamentary recess.

It found that a majority of people are “not interested in personally playing an active part in the management of their building”, especially in light of highly publicised issues such as the cladding remediation.

The Government’s findings are supported by new independent polling from JL Partners, commissioned by the Residential Freehold Association, which reveals that fewer than a fifth of people say they would be comfortable assuming the legal and financial liabilities for managing a building, as they would under a commonhold system.

The Government’s research is based on extensive focus group testing and shows that people feel the leasehold system limits their stress, as residents are not required to arrange repairs or maintenance, liaise or negotiate with neighbours, and do not hold legal responsibility for repairs or ensuring fellow leaseholders pay the required fees and service charges.

One respondent said, “I work full time and then on my days off, I want to relax and see my friends not be dealing with what would seem like another job.” Another respondent, said, “I’m a single mother, with 2 kids, this is too much. Unless somebody makes it a lot easier for me or comes and helps me do what I need to do, I can’t contribute to this.”

The report contradicts the Government’s rhetoric on the subject, with the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, saying, “We need to end this feudal form of tenure and ensure individuals have the right to enjoy their own property fully.”

The research also raised concerns on how an alternative system of tenure would work in practice in larger, more complex blocks, with research suggesting that blocks with 8-20 units would be the cut-off point for any alternative form of tenure to function.

Mick Platt, Director of the RFA, commented:

“We have been calling on the Government to conduct an impact assessment on leasehold reform for several years now but they have consistently refused to do so and we now know why.

“There is simply no desire from residents, or the public at large, for the policy proposals they are pursuing. Policymaking should be based on evidence, not the desires of a vocal minority who would rather see leasehold abolished than properly regulated.

“The Government must seriously consider their position on this issue which will affect 4.9 million leaseholders across the country who, according to the Government’s own research, are largely happy with the leasehold system and do not want unnecessary burdens placed on them.”


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  1. LVW4

    This is total nonsense from an organisation with a vested interest in continuing the feudal leasehold system in England & Wales. Leasehold was ended in the same form in Scotland years ago, and now England & Wales are unique in the world in maintaining the leasehold stranglehold.

    I don’t know who these leaseholders are who believe paying through the nose for a property they will never own, and invariably have difficulty selling, is a good idea.

    Ask the #NationalLeaseholdCampaign if leaseholders are happy. Ask the All Party Parliamentary Committee if their constituents are happy with leasehold.

    Abolishing leasehold is the way forward, but we can start immediately with making lease extension cheaper, faster and easier, ending the egregious marriage value, and ending leaseholders having to pay freeholders’ exaggerated legal costs.


    There is nothing feudal about leasehold. Under feudalism, in exchange for the protection of the local landlord, small holders were obligated to fight militarily for the landlord or in the Crusades and the local landlord was entitled to take his pick of the women folk.   Leasehold/Freehold is however a matter of contract law with extensive statutory protection for leaseholders. In reality forcing leaseholders who do not wish to pay toward works that are required is a far from pleasant job and the last thing a neighbour wants is to be in litigation with those who will put up any and all arguments rather than cough up for a new roof, or whatever it is that is required.   Apathy is the biggest problem. Even where leaseholders have management within their control it is often difficult to find competent people prepared to fulfil the statutory offices. The truth is that this campaign is being led by people who want to get a lease extension on the cheap. There would be no “marriage value” where it not for the fact that the calculation understates the value of the reversionary interest. For each leaseholder who gets a cheaper lease extension there is no benefit to the successor in title. I see no reason why a leaseholder should get a lease extension more cheaply than under the current formula which is reasonably fair to both parties.

    1. LVW4

      Probably better if you hadn’t cut and pasted the usual freehold defence claptrap. Commonhold works elsewhere, so why should it be different only in England & Wales. I would welcome your reply to that one question, please.

      I have been a landlord for over 20 years, and a leaseholder for 15. I have been a director and company secretary of a share of freehold management company, and a director of a RTM Co Ltd. You don’t need to try to make out leaseholders are so indolent that they cannot successfully and PROFESSIONALLY manage, or arrange to manage their [rented] properties, because I know it’s nothing but a regularly trotted out claim by the freehold world.

      Leaseholders need choice, not have a greedy, profit-driven and uncaring managing agent foisted upon them, and then pay through the nose for a freeholder who has invested very little and then expects massive returns through various permission fees and lease extensions. It’s why buying freeholds is positioned as risk-free and highly profitable… until now… hopefully.

      I hope you won’t mind if I forward your comments to the #NationalLeaseholdCampaign forum for a good belly laugh.


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