Radical reform promises fairer deal for leasehold property owners

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The Law Commission is proposing a radical shake-up of the leasehold property system in England and Wales, describing the current system as “complex, slow and expensive”.

Launching a consultation paper on its proposals, Leasehold home ownership: buying your freehold or extending your lease, the commission is asking the public to add their voice to the conversation to ensure both freeholders and leaseholders are represented.

With an estimated 4.2 million leasehold properties in England, the majority of which are flats, leasehold is a thorny subject for millions of homeowners.

In leasehold, the homeowner only owns the property itself and not the land on which it stands. The freeholder retains ownership of the land and leases the land to the homeowner for a specific period of time, usually decades. When the lease is close to expiring, some property owners have faced charges of thousands of pounds for renewal.

The cost of buying out the freehold is also seen as prohibitive while also being a legal minefield. More than 50 Acts of Parliament govern leasehold, and the process of extending a lease or buying freehold is known as enfranchisement.

Making system easier and cheaper

Law Commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins said: “The current system is complex, slow and expensive, and it’s failing homeowners. Many feel they are having to pay twice to own their home.

“Our proposals would make it easier and cheaper to buy the freehold or extend the lease of their home, ensuring the system works for ordinary homeowners across the country.

“We want to hear views from across the spectrum on how this complicated area of law can be improved.”

The Law Commission now proposes:

  • Making the enfranchisement process easier, cheaper and quicker;
  • Improving and enhancing the rights of leaseholders to buy the freehold or extend a lease;
  • Introduce a simpler unified procedure for houses and flats;
  • Remove any limitations on the right to enfranchise – at the moment, leaseholders must have owned their property for two years before making a claim.

Capital Conveyancing has the answers to leasehold conveyancing

When it comes to dealing with leasehold properties in London, Capital Conveyancing has the city covered, working with the most experienced property lawyers across the capital. The conveyancing solicitors on our panel are experts in dealing with leasehold sale and purchase, leasehold extension and buying of freehold.

We’re standing by to answer any of your questions on 0207 406 5880 and we’re open seven days for your convenience. Or get an instant, no-obligation quote on the leasehold conveyancing services you require.

About the Author Frances Traynor

Fran is the content writer for Capital Conveyancing, producing articles on all aspects of the conveyancing process and around the UK property market in general. If there is a topic you'd like to see covered on these pages, please drop Fran a line on Frances@searchesuk.co.uk.

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