Law Commission report on valuation lambasted by Louie Burns

Louie Burns

The Leasehold Solutions Group has lambasted a report by the Law Commission published today (9 January 2020), arguing that it unfairly favours freeholders' interests and does not go far enough to make enfranchisement cheaper for leaseholders.

The Law Commission’s 322-page report offers a number of recommendations to the Government which are intended to reduce the price payable by leaseholders to enfranchise (extend their lease or purchase the freehold of their property).

Leasehold expert and reform campaigner, Louie Burns, Managing Director of The Leasehold Solutions Group, and a Trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, said: “Leaseholders have been hoping for radical reforms that would really help to significantly reduce the exorbitant cost of enfranchisement.

“Instead, the Law Commission has put forward numerous options which are incredibly complex and difficult to understand, and which merely tinker around the edges of existing legislation.

“The recommendations in the report are incredibly underwhelming. However, my real concern is that the document repeatedly defends the freeholders’ human right to own and profit from someone else’s property via the leasehold system, which is absolutely crushing.

“Rather than recognise leasehold as an exploitative feudal anachronism, the Law Commission seems intent to defend the principals of the system, rejecting many options for reform that would make enfranchisement genuinely cheaper, simpler and fairer. For example, the option to calculate the cost of enfranchisement by a simple multiplication of the current ground rent was dismissed by the Law Commission as it would contravene human rights legislation.

“For centuries, freeholders have controlled the terms of leasehold by carefully lobbying to ensure that any planned reforms were stifled or watered down. Despite all the consultations leaseholders have filled out and all the evidence that has been presented to the Law Commission, this report shows that history is once again repeating itself.”