• leasehold

    I believe using leasehold to sell new homes is unfair and unjustifiable. I know from the correspondence I have had on this matter from residents across St Helens North that many leaseholders are reporting a whole range of problems, including: high service charges and a lack of transparency over what they are being charged for; freeholders who block attempts by leaseholders to exercise the Right to Manage; and excessive costs associated with administration charges and applications to extend lease agreements or enfranchise.

    I have joined the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) looking into Leasehold and Commonhold reform to consider ways in which leasehold and commonhold legislation and regulation might be improved and examine those elements of current legislation and regulation which are seen as defective.

    The Government published a Housing White Paper in February which included a commitment to improve consumer choice and fairness in leasehold. A consultation on tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market ran until 19 September 2017. It includes proposals to tackle the sale of new-build houses on a leasehold basis and to control ground rent levels in new lease agreements. While I welcome the Government’s proposals, I believe that legislation is needed to ensure the end of unfair leaseholds, to cap unfair rises in ground rent and to deal with existing contracts that contain unfair buy-out clauses. Nearly half of all newly-built properties were sold leasehold last year; I believe existing leaseholders need stronger rights too. At the General Election I stood on a manifesto which pledged to end the routine use of leasehold ownership for all new homes, and cap charges on ‘ground rents’ to stop unfair rises, giving leaseholders security against unforeseen rises in housing costs. The manifesto also pledged to commission a review into ending the routine use of leasehold ownership in developments of all new homes, and on making it easier for existing leaseholders to buy the freehold of their homes.