The Leasehold Advisory Service, long corroded by close proximity to the commercial interests in leasehold, tersely notes the passing of the enormously important achievement of the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act.
It did precisely nothing to help it, and much to hinder, over many years.
Here is the chief executive, Anthony Essien, telling MPs of the Communities Select Committee, which raised serious criticisms of the £2 million a year service, that ground rents above 0.1% were onerous.
Clive Betts, the chair, asked: “That is a clear view from your organisation is it?”
“Yes,” replied Mr Essien. If it increases beyond that with regular reviews it is “punishing”.
“Punishing?” asked Mr Betts. “That is a new definition. We have not heard that one before.”
But there was no suggestion that the Leasehold Advisory Service would support a ban on new ground rents.
The chair, Wanda Goldwag, also declined to endorse new ground rents of zero when interviewed by BBC R4’s You and Yours programme in 2019. She said only that contracts should be “fair”.
Ms Goldwag was asked whether she intended to have anyone directly affected by leasehold on the board of LEASE.
“No, I don’t,” she replied. “That is not how government bodies work. We have non-execs to make sure that the service is excellent.”
She praised Sir Peter Bottomley, who was interviewed on the programme, and others for their campaigning to reform leasehold.
“But my job is to ensure that while they campaign I provide the information and data of the trends and issues that people are facing.
Miss Goldwag said that she is eager to share the “every single piece of information that we have collected in the last five years about what people are complaining about” and give it to “government, the civil servants and the very, very good campaigning groups we have in this country”.
In fact, the Leasehold Advisory Service has been silent and irrelevant while the government sets about reforming leasehold and dealing with the building safety crisis.
Silent over egregious abuses; sucking up to the money; and of no use whatsoever over the ground rents scandal and so-so over the building safety one … which prompts the question: what is LEASE for?