Yvonne Fovargue MP: time this feudal system of leasehold was abolished

Last week, MPs debated a Labour motion calling on the Government to abolish leasehold – a centuries-old system where homeowners do not own the land on which their property is built.
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Instead, they are in a landlord and tenant relationship with the freeholder, who retains ownership of the land on which the property is built.

Leasehold is unjust and unfair in my view. Almost every country in the world apart from ours has abolished it, and I believe we should do the same.

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It’s time this feudal system was abolished and Labour has been pressing the Government calling for a Leasehold Reform Bill to end the injustice of families lacking basic rights over their own home.

Makerfield MP Yvonne FovargueMakerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue

There are around five million homes in England where families own their house or flat through a lease, meaning they pay extra costs to the building owner.

The system denies far too many people control over things as fundamental as the safety, security and future of their own homes.

In 2021, around 27% of house sales in the North West were leasehold, while across the rest of England and Wales proportions range from 1% to 6%.

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Alongside the current cost of living pressures, leaseholders who have contacted my office report a whole range of problems, including high service charges and a lack of transparency over charges; freeholders who block attempts to exercise the Right to Manage; excessive administration charges and charges for applications to extend lease agreements or enfranchise; and a lack of knowledge over their rights and obligations.

Most people who bought a leasehold property prior to 30 June 2022 are liable to pay an annual ground rent and may, under the terms of the lease agreement, be required to seek the freeholder’s consent before carrying out alterations.

Administration charges are usually payable for seeking consents of this sort and these costs can total thousands of pounds more than envisaged at the point of sale.

The Government admitted that there was a need for “urgent reform” as far back as 2017, and in January this year pledged to scrap the system. But reports suggest plans have been dropped.

I’m renewing my call for the Government to abolish the leasehold system, end the sale of new private leasehold houses, introduce a workable system to replace private leasehold flats with commonhold, and legislate to implement the Law Commission’s recommendations on enfranchisement, commonhold and the right to manage in full.

Ministers must act now, keep their promise to leaseholders by ending this outdated system and deliver long-overdue justice to millions of families.