On Tuesday LKP met the new post-Brexit housing minister Gavin Barwell, a Conservative MP representing an urban constituency at last.
A former special adviser, Mr Barwell has some experience of leasehold and LKP has reported that his Croydon constituency has had two lease forfeiture cases every year since 2010.
The meeting, which included DCLG civil servants, covered issues concerning leasehold:
- The fact that we are producing more of it than we ever have done before.
- That housebuilders such as Persimmon are building leasehold houses which would ordinarily be freehold. The Land Registry is revealing a sharp spike in these registrations, which have been reported here
- Forfeiture, and the Law Commission’s stalled report from 2006.
- To move commonhold from the Ministry of Justice to the Department of Communities and Local Government, where it more appropriately belongs.
- Protection of funds held by unregulated managing agents. Millions of pounds of leaseholders’ money is held “in trust” – in trust bank accounts, in other words – which are unscrutinised and unregulated. There is consensus across the sector that this is inadequate.
- More familiarisation with the scandals of leasehold, such as trickery with ground rent hikes, stalling handover of resident management companies and sweating leaseholders to provide a 20% return on a freehold investment.
Stricter regulation of managing agents, (not self regulation) is an essential start. Ultimately making managers answerable to the leaseholders who pay the bills, rather than any self serving freeholder. Even enforcement of existing meagre legislation protecting leaseholders, is virtually non existent, and in urgent need of review.