By Harry Scoffin
Last month, as part of its Britain section, The Economist explored the leasehold system and recognised the work of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.
The article starts by referencing Anis Kasmani, an unhappy Persimmon customer who bought a leasehold house at Harrow View West before house builders were shamed into abandoning the tenure and reverted back to more normal freehold.
Or, as The Economist put it: “Anis Kasmani is trying to buy the right to own a home he has already bought …”
The current pro tem MD of Persimmon David Jenkinson – standing in as his former boss and Help To Buy bonus millionaire Jeff Fairburn has been let go – was poised to account for Harrow View West at the Communities Select Committee last week. But MPs questioning focussed on a site in the north, instead.
In its usual jaunty style, the magazine showed how leasehold was closely related to patterns of class formation in early modern England.
“The practice is feudal, but still applies to nearly one in five English properties. Now the quirks of a scheme that helped aristocrats to finance the Crusades have got modern leaseholders up in arms, and ministers promising reforms,” it explained.
Depicting LKP’s Sebastian O’Kelly as a radical, the piece challenges the assumptions of politicians in the ruling party. LKP would agree that tenure holds the key to solving the housing crisis. Although supply is important, presiding over an explosion in depreciating leasehold does nothing to support a property-owning democracy.
What is the point of building more properties when working people are simply becoming mortgaged tenants in the leasehold sector? Buying a flat you don’t even own seems hardly an upgrade from renting.
For those blocked by the paywall, we attach the column below.