By Katie Kendrick
Many of you have heard me speak many times before. I have lost count how many times I have introduced myself to yet another new Housing Minister and hear I am again doing exactly that.
I am a positive person by nature, but I am totally losing faith that any help for existing leaseholders is on the way.
The government do appear to give this topic lip service, but it’s not more words we need, no more empty promises we need legislation.
The leasehold ‘can’ has been kicked further and further down the road that we are now in a position where this government may run out of time to actually deliver anything at all. I’m not just speaking for myself but the 27,000 members of the NLC.
Thank you Minister for your reassurance that a comprehensive plan to reform leasehold is coming, but let’s be honest we have all in this room heard this many times.
I’m not going to stand here and thank the government for listening, we have gone way past that point.
Leaseholders are outraged that we are having the same conversations over and over again but they, the leaseholders, are the ones left struggling every single day to pay their extortionate service charges.
They are the ones that can’t sell because buyers are pulling out due to onerous lease terms and mortgage lenders won’t lend.
They are the ones trapped in this nightmare.
They are the ones paying the price for the repeated delays. And don’t get me started on the fact thousands of innocent leaseholders are still living in unsafe homes. I can’t begin to imagine how that feels but I do know this is totally unacceptable.
The cross-party support on this issue is incredible. That’s because everyone knows how abusive this current system is.
We know, MP’s know, Ministers know, the media know, the industry knows yet here we all are agreeing with each other yet nothing has changed for existing leaseholders. Part one of the two-part legislation (The ground rent bill) was delivered in 2022, supposedly to be followed promptly with part two. Well it’s part two that existing leaseholders NEED.
We had a glimmer of hope that at the very least the AST issue / loophole may be resolved within section 21 of the Renters Reform Bill but my understanding now that that Bill too has been delayed during its passage through Parliament. Another important Bill at huge risk of running out of time.
All political parties go on about homeownership.
Leasehold is not the homeownership dream, It should never fall under the ‘umbrella’ of homeownership. It is a long-term tenancy agreement. We can only achieve true homeownership if we stop building more leasehold tenancies and move to Commonhold like the rest of the world.
When I started this campaign lots of people told me the government would never change it, they would never end the leasehold system, but I had faith in the gov when they would agree the system was broken and that leasehold needed to go and they were working on it and it would get done. I believed them at the start, I believed them in the 2nd year and 3rd but now I’m in the 7th year of running this campaign and I have to admit I’m struggling to keep the faith. We are at the point where leaseholders have lost faith anything is going to change.
It’s clear from hearing from the Residential Freehold Association today that they may support ‘some’ elements of leasehold reform as opposed to abolishment. I have to say please take your leasehold goggles off and embrace Commonhold.
This is what I and all NLC members want to see in the King’s speech – anything less than this isn’t good enough.
- Online calculator to make buying freeholds and extending leases easier – and we need one that hasn’t been rigged by freeholders.
- Removal of marriage value – in its entirety (no half-baked measures). Hundreds of leaseholders waiting on this decision as their leases become shorter every day.
- Making it easier for leaseholders in blocks and on estates to take back control of service charges and estate management fees.
- Legislate to Ban leasehold houses moving forward.
- Some urgency and immediate action to establish Commonhold as default tenure for communal living.
- Shared ownership isn’t home ownership if it is leasehold. Just adding to the millions of leaseholders already being abused by this system.
- lots and lots of sales falling through for various leasehold issues (ground rents, service charges, etc.). We are way from these problems being over.
The Leasehold Scandal has been going on for so long there has even been a play made about it called “Fleecehold”. The play was put on at the Camden Fringe Festival this August and was a sell out all 3 nights. We aim to take the play on a tour around the country to help raise awareness that Leaseholders are not alone and that we are not going to give up fighting for the right to own our homes.