The Sunday Times returned to considering leasehold yesterday and made its most damning assessment yet.
The powerful article by columnist Martina Lees considered the case of Lisa and Ray Chapple, aged 34 and 35, living in a terraced house bought off-plan seven years agon.
With £250pa ground rents courtesy of Taylor Wimpey they will face £8,000 ground rents if they stay in the property for 50 years – quite a possibility as it is unlikely to be worth anything close to what they paid for it.
The article mentioned research by LKP that housebuilders sell £300-500 million of freeholds a year; that almost 9,000 leasehold houses were sold in 2015, more than doubled figures in 2010, and that they were worth £2 billion.
“The ground rent scandal is just one example of the rot in leasehold,” writes Ms Lees.
There is the lease extension racket, revealed if not cured by the Mundy court case brought by chartered surveyor James Wyatt.
It very helpfully named the Sloane Stanley estate and the giant medical charity the Wellcome Trust, which finds a remedy for its financial needs with a dose of high-end London lease income.
Freeholders control sites with a minimal investment in them, often below 5 per cent.
The absurdity of the cost regime of the property tribunal is revealed, with freeholders cleaning up with legal fees even when they lose the case.
The appalling case of Dennis Jackson, who won a reduction in service charges and was hit for £76,000 legal fees (and forfeited his flat) is recalled.
The conclusion of Ms Lees on examining leasehold:
“It is time for parliament to abolish it altogether for new homes. Then, as Scotland has done, we should slowly convert existing leaseholds.
“As they come up for renewal, new terms should be 999 years and ground rents capped.
“Theresa May promised us a Britain driven “not by the interests of the privileged few”, but by those of ordinary people.
“It can scarcely be more needed than in leasehold.”