By Harry Scoffin
As the political arms race over leasehold and commonhold rages on, LKP is pleased to report that Boris Johnson has joined the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform.
The decision by the presumptive prime minister to join the bipartisan caucus of parliamentarians is a coup for campaigners pushing for abolition of residential leasehold.
Mr Johnson has agreed to be a friend of the APPG.
It is understood that the decision not to go for full membership has been taken owing to his position in the Conservative Party leadership contest. Mr Johnson is currently the bookies’ favourite to succeed Theresa May.
Members of government are not allowed to be members of APPGs.
Aware that even high-powered cabinet ministers need access to leasehold knowledge, the APPG Secretariat created the informal category of friend to support these politicians and their office staff with constituency casework.
If Mr Johnson is installed in No 10 later this month, the APPG will have its first ever serving prime minister on the books.
With recent confirmation that Crosby Textor has not lobbied for ground rent speculators since 2017, the firm whose co-founders are believed to be strategising for Mr Johnson, LKP is confident that the former mayor of London can be persuaded to end leasehold fiefdoms.
In a recent Policy Exchange report, which includes a foreword penned by Johnson adviser Sir Lynton Crosby, great emphasis is put on the need for the next premier to boost home ownership. It said:
“It is a priority in terms of supporting younger generations to enjoy the same benefits of home ownership as older generations … Any party hoping to govern will need a policy programme that can make the housing market fairer.
“We believe a fairer housing market is one with more choice where people can live in the home they dream of and in the place they want to be. To achieve this, more new homes of the sort people want to live in should be built where they are needed. It is as simple as that.
“The ills of the housing market will not be solved by new supply alone, but building more and better homes that consumers and communities think are beautiful must be a central part of the next Prime Minister’s agenda.”
All of this seems very promising.
It suggests Mr Johnson could be receptive to the LKP point of view: although we must boost supply, creating ever more tenancies is hardly the answer to the housing crisis.
Consumer homebuyers should not scrimp, save, and sweat to be mortgaged tenants chained to a depreciating asset.
And why should the bills decent residents pay be determined by a monetising third-party landlord?
How can you disagree with the principle that flat owners in this country should be setting their own service charge budget from the off, like their counterparts across the rest of the world?
It is clear that now is the time for real home ownership with commonhold.