Those who have followed me on social media will know that I’ve been committed to ending the leasehold scandal during my time in Parliament – and have raised it in PMQs three times.
The Conservative Party has now consulted eight times on ending the scandal, but have yet do actually do anything about it, despite the fact that 4.3 million UK households are crying out for help. It’s a feudal system that needs to be ended as soon as possible – but the Government has only made supportive noises.
Leasehold ownership means purchasing a home for the duration of a long lease rather than owning it outright. Homeowners who purchase a leasehold property are often faced with extortionate charges in the form of ‘ground rents’ or service charges and locked into restrictive contracts which were not properly explained.
I’ve been contacted by so many homeowners in Weaver Vale who are so angry firstly at the system, and secondly at the Government for their inaction.
They have complained about leaseholds being sold on to hard-to-reach companies, that they faced big hikes in service charges and management fees and that their solicitors did not properly explain what buying a leasehold meant.
Leasehold is a symbol of our broken housing system, with millions of England’s homeowners feeling like they’ve bought their home but still don’t own it.
The scale of the problems faced by leaseholders, from rip-off ground rents, punitive fees and onerous contract conditions stating what they can and can’t do to their homes, demands wholesale change.
Labour is proposing that the next Labour Government will:
1. End the sale of new private leasehold houses with direct effect and the sale of private leasehold flats by the end of our first term in Government.
2. End ground rents for new leasehold homes, and cap ground rents for existing leaseholders at 0.1% of the property value, up to a maximum of £250 a year.
3. Set a simple formula for leaseholders to buy the freehold to their home, or commonhold in the case of a flat, capped at 1% of the property value.
4. Crack down on unfair fees and contract terms by publishing a reference list of reasonable charges, requiring transparency on service charges and giving leaseholders a right to challenge rip-off fees and conditions or poor performance from service companies.
5. Give residents greater powers over the management of their homes, with new rights for flat-owners to form residents associations and by simplifying the Right to Manage.