1 May 2018
Prominent leasehold reform campaigner Louie Burns has called on the government to ensure it publishes its report on leasehold reform before the summer recess at the end of July.
Last Autumn the Government undertook a consultation exercise entitled "Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market" and made a commitment to publish its report before Parliament's summer recess, but with the recent ministerial changes at the Department for Communities and Local Government there is growing concern that this timeframe may be delayed.
In response to the findings of the consultation published just before Christmas, Sajid Javid, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, stated: "These practices are practically feudal and entirely unjustifiable – which is why, earlier this year, I set out plans to end them once and for all.
"The response to those plans ...was overwhelming. Thousands of people got in touch to share their views, with the vast majority in favour of widespread reform.
"Looking at the responses to this consultation it’s clear to me that real action is needed to end such abuses and create a system that works in the best interests of consumers. And that’s exactly what this government will deliver."
Now Louie Burns, Managing Director of Leasehold Solutions, is calling on the government to make sure it sticks to its commitment. He said: "The government is currently scrutinising the existing legislation on leases, and I believe it is serious about the changes it wants to introduce.
"My concern is that when facing more pressing issues such as Brexit, Syria and the NHS, the government's timetable may slip, particularly as Sajid Javid, the architect of the Government's leasehold reform agenda, has now been promoted to Home Secretary. This would be disastrous for the thousands of leaseholders caught up in this unjust and deeply immoral system, as every delay costs hardworking leaseholders more money in ground rent, service charges and lease extensions.
"We need clarity and action from the government, and this issue cannot be allowed to drift. I therefore urge the Government and the new Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, to make sure it sticks to its timetable and publishes its eagerly anticipated report on leasehold before the summer recess. This will signal its intent to reform this corrupt system, and put freeholders on notice that the gravy train is heading towards the buffers."
It is widely anticipated that new legislation will be needed to reform the sector, including changes to the Commonhold legislation to make it a workable alternative to leasehold. But Burns is realistic about the length of time it will take to bring forward new legislation. He continued: "Realistically, it will take several years for new legislation to come before Parliament, hence the need to start the process as quickly as possible.
"The Government has committed to banning the sale of new-build leasehold houses, which can and will be achieved fairly quickly, but I think it will take years before some of the other proposed policies are ready to roll-out. The real danger is that the Government's priorities shift and leasehold reform gets kicked into the long grass."
"We need clarity and action from the government, and this issue cannot be allowed to drift"
MD Leasehold Solutions