LEASE happily tells freehold owners how to forfeit a lease, but does not tell leaseholders how to preserve their home.
Nigel Wilkins, of the Campaign Against Residential Leasehold, who has been urging that forfeiture be ended, has written to LEASE chief executive Anthony Essien demanding action.
“Since this is such a serious and frightening issue for leaseholders, I really think it is well beyond the time that LEASE provided a legal opinion for leaseholders on how to tackle it.
“You provide full information to landlords about how to forfeit leaseholders’ homes so it is incumbent on you to provide full information to leaseholders about how to combat it. In fact it is highly questionable whether the legislation that permits forfeiture complies with the Human Rights Act or common law.”
Wilkins quotes the cases of ‘Regina v Waya’, the prosecution of a mortgage fraudster where it was ruled that the guilty party only had to forfeit that portion of the capital gain from the property directly attributable to the mortgage fraudulently obtained – and not that part of the capital gain relating to the part of the purchase price that was legitimately funded.
The ruling states: “The legislative purpose of a confiscation order was to deprive a criminal of the proceeds of his crime and not to act as a deterrent by imposing a further punishment.
“Therefore confiscation order should not be disproportionate to the benefit that a criminal derived from his criminal activity.”
As Wilkins points out: “So leaseholders are being treated far worse than criminals when it comes to forfeiture. Moreover any debts due are purely civil debts, and not a result of theft.
“As we all know a large proportion of the “debts” owed by leaseholders arise because of theft and incompetence by landlords, managing agents and others – the so-called “professionals”.”
Curiously, forfeiture as an issue was considered by new ARMA-Q regulator Keith Hill, when he was housing minister. He admits “kicking it into the long grass” by referring forfeiture to the Law Commission.
Forfeiture is very nasty and an anomaly. As readers of LKP know, Battersea leasehold owner Dennis Jackson came within a hair’s breadth of forfeiting the lease on his £800,000 flat at Plantation Wharf.
During the Wandsworth County Court case to lift the forfeiture order Sebastian O’Kelly and Martin Boyd, of LKP, were ordered from the court after the freeholder’s barrister objected to their presence.
This meant that Jackson’s entire wealth could have been taken from him in a secret court.
Why is this not a national scandal?
CARL can be contacted here: http://www.carl.org.uk