By Harry Scoffin
The snap general election has set back proposals to slash the costs of buying a freehold.
In a tweet, the Law Commission said on Tuesday that it has been forced to postpone the release of its report on valuation in enfranchisement “as a result of restrictions on the Commission’s activities during the pre-election period”.
According to the Institute for Government, “purdah” rules mean that arm’s-length bodies “should not compete with the election campaign” with big policy reveals.
LKP understands that the report on enfranchisement valuation models was due to be released next week.
It had already been pushed back, with the publication originally intended for October.
The announcement on Tuesday was met with frustration by campaigners.
National Leasehold Campaign co-founder Jo Darbyshire tweeted:
“Feels like leaseholders are always chasing a moving target. We need help now!”
Another leaseholder called for the leaking of the report, suggesting a conspiracy.
Concerns were raised last month that the first delay was political, with one valuer tweeting:
“Suspect they revealed their conclusions to the current Government (very different to Theresa May’s) and were told in no uncertain terms to enact a do-over. Recommendations without Government buy-in are rather pointless so we would envisage some degree of negotiation.”
Leasehold Solutions head Louie Burns came out in support, although no evidence has yet been presented to confirm the theory.
In response to the second postponement, Philip Rainey QC took to Twitter to sympathise with leaseholders thrown into disarray by the news:
“I’m sure that this will be a disappointment to reformers but the Commission had no choice; that’s how it works if an election is called.”
The Law Commission’s intention is to publish the final recommendations in January, ahead of its reports on reforming right to manage, commonhold and other aspects of enfranchisement set for the following month. The timing is still to be confirmed.
In its working paper, the Law Commission cautioned against expectations of radical change for consumers stuck in leasehold contracts:
“There is no suggestion that existing leaseholders should be able to obtain a freehold or lease extension without paying the landlord an appropriate price; our task is to propose reforms to improve the enfranchisement process, and to set out the options for reducing premiums that are payable by leaseholders while ensuring sufficient compensation is paid to landlords.”
It will be left for ministers to decide whether the new model of enfranchisement will favour the interests of landlords or tenants.