A forthright submission to the Law Commission consultation on enfranchisement has been made by a leaseholder on the Isles of Scilly protesting against Prince Charles’ “feudal” Duchy of Cornwall.
Alan Davis, of The Garrison, St Mary’s, who claims about 100 homes on Scilly are affected, bought his modern and unexceptional home as a holiday home in 1983 – becoming his permanent home in 1996 – with 76 years on the lease.
“At the time we discussed with the solicitor the Crown and enfranchisement, but at the time we did not qualify as it was not our permanent home. Since 1996 we have been pursuing the Duchy on enfranchisement by correspondence, petitions, the media and tribunal, to obtain the right to enfranchise.
Latest news reports and local information from the Isles of Scilly
“We have been denied out right and with various reasons such ‘as they did not want people coming to Scilly and buying holiday homes’ to a comparison where the Duchy said, ‘they were like the National Trust’.”
Mr Davis claims that since purchasing the property, he has spent considerable sums on maintaining and improving his home.
“The Duchy have not contributed one penny and to add insult to injury, in addition to applying for planning permission, we had to seek the Duchy’s consent.”
The consent fee income, under the terms of the leases, include permission to sublet and the Duchy charges £1,600 pa for 14 weeks permission. “The Duchy do not provide any thing whatsoever in return for their permissions,” Mr Davis tells the Law Commission.
“An unanswered question, is why does the Duchy wish to hold on the freeholds? Is it income generation from ground rents or just the fact the Duchy wish to maintain the medieval feudal system of leaseholds, whereby we are Prince Charles’s subjects and under his control?”
In answer to the Law Commission’s question whether Crown leaseholders had ”encountered any difficulties”, Mr Davis responded
“The privilege Ministers granted to the Duchy of Cornwall is being misused to perpetuate the leasehold feudal system for the Duchy of Cornwall’s own monetary benefit under the guise of a private estate, but the Duchy is a Crown entity.
“The privilege granted to the Duchy of Cornwall should be rescinded, as it has no place in a 21st century democratic society.
“The privilege granted to the Duchy of Cornwall distorts the local housing market and has a detrimental effect on the Island’s economy.”
Tenants of the Duchy of Cornwall are challenging a decision that grants the Prince of Wales rights denied to every other private landlord in Britain. The tenants want to be able to buy the freehold to properties they have leased, in some cases for decades, a right other leaseholders have had since the 1960s.
As all the Duchy’s properties on Scilly have short leases and ground rents above 0.1 per cent, they are not bought by locals with mortgages. Mr Davis says they are closer to 1 per cent, which would be considered onerous by lenders such as Nationwide.
Mr Davis says the Duchy of Cornwall claims the Scilly Isles have been part of the duchy since the 13th century, but he calls this bogus and “fake news”, with arguments about this point being heard in the 19th century.
The Duchy of Cornwall owns property in Scilly, Cornwall and in Kennington, part of Lambeth in south London.
Mr Davis’s full submission is here: ScillyIslesLawCommisionResponse
Alan Davis, secretary of the Garrison Leasehold Group, said: “We are campaigning for the same equal right to enfranchisement as other citizens. Our problem is that our landlord is the Duchy of Cornwall. “The Duchy on its website refers to itself as “a well managed private estate” whose principal activity is the sustainable and commercial management of its land and properties”.