Leasehold law: the reforms

So many changes and it still doesn’t work

Below is a chronology of legislative changes to leasehold law since 1954, with the main features highlighted. So many laws and it still doesn’t work: which is why the best possible solution to leasehold is not to build any more of it and join the rest of the world with commonhold tenure.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (schedule 10)
• Gives most long leaseholders the right to remain as a renting tenant at the end of their lease.

Leasehold Reform Act 1967
• Gives most long leaseholders of houses the right to purchase the freehold
or extend their lease.
• Gives landlord’s of leasehold houses the right to apply for the retention of management powers for the general benefit of the neighbourhood (estate management schemes).

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
• Gives tenants rights in relation to service charges.
• Gives tenants rights in relation to consultation about major works (qualifying works & long term agreements).
• Gives tenants rights to information about and to challenge service charges.
• Gives tenants rights relating to the insurance of their property.
• Gives tenants the right to have a recognised tenants’ association.
• Gives tenants rights to consultation about managing agents.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1987
• Gives qualifying tenants of flats the Right of First Refusal to buy the freehold.
• Gave tenants the right to seek the appointment of a new manager by a court.
• Gives tenants rights to compulsory purchase of a landlord’s interest in certain circumstances.
• Requires service charges to be held in a separate account and in trust.
• Gives tenants the right to seek variation of their leases.
Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993
• Gives most long leaseholders of flats the collective right to buy their
freehold and the individual right to renew their leases.
• Gives leaseholders the right to a management audit.
• Gives the Secretary of State or National Assembly for Wales the power to
approve management codes of practice.
• Gives landlord’s of leasehold flats the right to apply for an estate
management scheme.
• Transfers responsibility for estate management scheme variations to LVTs.

Housing Act 1996
• Makes it easier for leaseholders to challenge unreasonable service charges and restricts the landlord’s right to forfeit where an item or items of service charges are disputed.
• Strengthens the Right of First Refusal by making it a summary offence.
• Extends the rights of leaseholders to buy the freehold of their building.
• Gives jurisdiction for LVTs to determine service charge disputes and applications for the appointment of a manager.

Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002
• Relaxes the qualifying rules for buying the freehold of a leasehold property or extending the lease (flats and houses).
• Provides that marriage value is disregarded where leases have more than 80  years to run, and that it is split 50/50 in all cases where it does apply.
• Raises the ‘commercial limit’ for blocks of flats from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
• Gives new rights to personal representatives of deceased leaseholders of flats and houses.
• Allows leaseholders of houses who have already extended their lease under
the 1967 Act the right to buy the freehold, or remain in the property as a renting tenant when the lease expires.
• Widens the right to seek the appointment of a new manager for blocks of flats.
• Widens the grounds under which a lease can be varied.

Second phase of provisions commenced on 30 September 2003 in England
and 30 March 2004 in Wales.

• Gives leaseholders of blocks of flats a ‘no-fault’ right to take over the management of their block.
• Includes ‘improvements’ in the definition of service charges.
• Widens the jurisdiction of the LVTs, for example to determine the liability to pay service charges, the reasonableness of administration charges payable under a lease, variations of leases, and charges payable under Estate Management Schemes.

Second phase of provisions commenced on 31 October 2003 in England and
30 March 2004 in Wales.

• Improves the rights for leaseholders paying variable service charges to be consulted about long term agreements and qualifying works.

Third phase of provisions commenced on 28 February 2005 in England and
31 May 2005 in Wales.

• Requires landlords to demand ground rents in a specific manner before they
are able to take any action or impose any penalties for late payment.
• Requires landlords to first satisfy a leasehold valuation tribunal, court or arbitral tribunal that a disputed breach of a covenant or condition of the lease has occurred before they are able to take any forfeiture action.
• Prevents landlords from forefeiting leases as a result of trivial debts that consist of ground rent, service charges, administration charges (or a combination of them) where the debt does not exceed £350, unless all or any part of the sum has been outstanding for more than 3 years.
• Prevents landlords from insisting that leaseholders of houses use a particular
insurance company nominated or approved by them to insure their house.
• Fixes the valuation date for collective enfranchisement of flats at the date
that the initial notice is served.
Fourth phase of provisions commenced on 1 October 2007 in England and
30 November 2007 in Wales.
• Requires landlords to send a summary of the tenant’s rights and obligations
with a demand for service charges, using particular wording set out in
• Requires landlords to send a summary of the tenant’s rights and obligations
with a demand for administration charges, using particular wording set out
in regulations.


  1. Ernest Hartland says

    Yet another opportunity for Peverel to Rip us Off? FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT

    Very short notice that this is to be carried out on our Loft Spaces, and as I judge it, not an Health and Safety Requirement, seeing as there is no evidence to support it on the HSE Web Site. Any observations and comments from others?

    • GLaws says

      We have the same problem with Fire Risk Assessment. Massive bills for ‘repairs to loft hatches’ and self adhesive fire door keep shut signs put on every door possible at a cost of over £20 a sign, yes they cost about £1 each if bought by anyone other than the council.

      Have you managed to challenge the assessment and associated costs?

    • Jean lemon says

      the fire assessment, asbestos and health and safety seem to be the flavour of the month for rogue managing agents to try and fleece more money from,their leaseholders. Our managing agents HML Hathaways tried to include all of these items in this years service charges. However we managed to get all of them removed as being unnecessary before they employed themselves to carry out the work.

  2. says

    We had a Fire Risk Assessment which cost us £690.00 for a 17 page document where 95% of the report was NOT APPLICABLE?
    WE have no communal areas and the only visits noted, were the 10 out of 14 roof spaces that were viewed. The surveyor refused to use my fixed ladder and used his own, which wasn’t high enough to allow him to enter the roof space, which was the plan, he also then took pictures, which he did not ask us for permission.
    The Company Cardinus also carried out a Re-evaluation Survey for insurance purposes where we believe they are not RICS Chartered Surveyors, which we also paid for over £324.00.
    We also paid out for 2 further Risk Assessments for Risk Assessment Reviews one for £60.00 and the other for £29.57?
    Check who was the surveyor and ask for the report that they produce?
    Sebastian has my details and I will try to provide help if required?

  3. lucy watts says

    I have a leasehold flat. The freeholder has gone into liquidation and receiver is the freeholder. Building has S20 to fix roof. Receiver is looking after 15 freehold flats – there are 14 leasehold flats. My flat is letting in rain water every time it rains so much so that the flat above me and my flat are not fit to live in. Receiver wants to do works but leaseholders are saying they want a new surveyor and they have got a solicitor to say that management agent is not qualified to do the specifications even though they had phase 1 of the works done on their roof in the south of the building. The west roof is now in a terrible state where I live but leaseholders will not pay their share and are putting objections in the way to stop work. My question is ‘What can I do to get the work done?’ My flat cannot go through another wet winter – I fear the beam has wood rot and will fall if work does not start soon….’ Please help me…..

    • Jean lemon says

      I have only sympathy for,you. I also have water pouring through the ceiling in my flat. HML Hathaways who unfortunately are our managing agents employed their own company , HML Shaws to manage our section 20 repairs. The builders took the coping stones off the roof and replaced them with some metal tubing not even sealed. Shaws signed off all of the shoody work. Now after 9 months neither of these two companies will do anything about the repairs and I am having to start a court case to get the repairs done. I suggest you look at getting an order of specific performance against whoever is responsible for the freehold. This hopefully will force them to do the repairs

      • Lesley Newnham says


        Are you in a position to exercise RTM? You may find it cheaper and quicker than court cases but my worry is that the companies you mention have been accredited by LKP!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>