Around 50 leasehold stakeholders and seven parliamentarians attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform on Wednesday evening.
The parliamentary turnout was lower than expected, owing to the election.
Sebastian O’Kelly, trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, was the first speaker, welcoming owners of leasehold houses from the North West making their second journey to Westminster.
On March 22 the APPG was cancelled an hour and a half before it was due to start owing to the Westminster attack. This time the leasehold house owners arrived with five minutes to spare owing to the Euston fire.
Mr O’Kelly contrasted the powerful campaign focussed on leasehold houses with the far more widespread exploitation of flat owners which is so often below the radar of public opinion.
“The difference is this.
“In a block of flats you have to act as a group: if you highlight a dispute, you publicly run down the block. Some people – those having to sell – won’t appreciate this.
“Take Canary Riverside, in Jim Fitzpatrick’s constituency. One of the most poisonous leasehold disputes there is. The affluent leaseholders there will not speak in public. Also the freeholder has threatened 110 members of the residents’ association with defamation proceedings.
“Leasehold house owners are in a different position. If they want to demonstrate in Ellesmere Port or wherever, they can do so.
“They are answerable only to themselves.
“The developers and freeholders do not like this at all. They are used to divide and rule, stuffing right to manage applications, intimidating isolated individuals or nobbling control of residents’ management companies.
“The public anger at the leasehold houses scandal has taken them by surprise.”
Mr O’Kelly paid tribute to Katie Kendrick, who set up the National Leasehold Campaign Facebook group of 3,400 members.
He also praised her for getting a demonstration organised outside Redrow’s 2,000 leasehold houses site in Ellesmere Port.
He referred to dirty play here, too.
“It cannot be right that Clair Scott, a Bolton leasehold house owner, was intimidated by a defamation threat not to appear on a BBC radio show with me in January. It is not right that defamation solicitors were to be instructed by Linden homes against Louise O’Reardon.”
He praised both Sir Peter Bottomley and Jim Fitzpatrick for stopping this legal bullying in its tracks.