‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ is how the new housing white paper has been labelled but just how far has it looked into reforming the Leasehold & Commonhold sectors.
Fortunately, it appears the Government is examining the issues associated with both leasehold and commonhold and reform may be just over the horizon.
It states the Government ‘will act to promote fairness and transparency for the growing number of Leaseholders’ and it goes on to admit that there are areas where urgent reform is needed.
It confirmed the Government is aware that many Leaseholders face increasing and onerous payments which can in some cases accrue to ridiculous amounts making many properties less affordable and leaving Leaseholders unable to sell. Reviewing these occurrences, they looked in particular at ground rents with short review periods which increase significantly throughout the lease period. They have stated they are ‘absolutely determined’ to address this and reform for better, more affordable housing tenure with less financial burden on the Leaseholder. Reaffirming that they will ‘consult on a range of measures to tackle all unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold’.
The Government have also said that they will consider further reforms through consultation to improve consumer choice and fairness. As well as working with the Law Commission to identify opportunities to incorporate additional Leasehold reforms.
The white paper states that the Government will look at ‘Whether and how to reinvigorate Commonhold’. Commonhold was designed as an alternative to Leasehold as a different type of freehold land tenure where you own the freehold of your individual apartment, with the ambition of solving all the problems commonly associated with Leasehold.
Should the Government successfully ‘reinvigorate’ Commonhold it could potentially take over apartment blocks as the most popular form of tenure, however this was the plan when Commonhold was introduced by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 and it has largely failed with its ambitions and Leasehold tenure is still dominating the apartment market.