Decoding the Leasehold Revolution: What You Need to Know About the Latest Government Announcement

In a pivotal King’s Speech on November 7th, the government revealed plans to introduce a groundbreaking Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill. Here are the key elements of this significant proposal:

  1. Ban on New Leasehold Houses:
    • The government aims to outlaw new leasehold houses in England and Wales. However, this ban does not extend to new flats, leaving room for further discussion.
  2. Facilitating Lease Extensions and Freehold Purchases:
    • Efforts to simplify and reduce the cost of extending leases and acquiring freeholds for existing properties are underway. This move seeks to empower current leaseholders in houses and flats.
  3. Extended Lease Terms and Ground Rent Adjustments:
    • The standard lease extension term is slated to increase from 90 to 990 years for houses and flats, coupled with a reduction of ground rent to £0.
  4. Ownership Eligibility for New Leaseholders:
    • The requirement for new leaseholders to own their property for a minimum of two years before benefiting from reforms will be eliminated.
  5. Streamlined Property Transactions:
    • Buying or selling a leasehold property is expected to become quicker and easier, with set timeframes and fees imposed for information provision to leaseholders by freeholders.
  6. Transparency and Redress Mechanisms:
    • Emphasis will be placed on transparency regarding service charges for leaseholders. Access to redress schemes will also be extended to address poor practices.
  7. Overhauling Building Insurance Commissions:
    • The Bill proposes replacing building insurance commissions for managing agents, landlords, and freeholders with transparent administrative fees.
  8. Equal Rights for Freehold Homeowners:
    • Freehold homeowners on private and mixed-tenure estates are set to enjoy the same rights of redress as leaseholders under the new reforms.
  9. Building on Building Safety Act 2022:
    • The legislation aims to build on the foundations laid by the Building Safety Act 2022, preventing freeholders and developers from evading responsibilities for building remediation work.
  10. Expanding Leaseholder Rights in Non-Residential Buildings:
    • Leaseholders in buildings with up to 50% non-residential floorspace will have the option to buy their freehold or take over its management, a notable increase from the previous 25%.

Ground Rent Cap Considerations:

  • The government expresses the intention to consult on capping ground rent to ensure fairness and reasonableness in charges. A comprehensive consultation process is deemed necessary before the cap is implemented through the Bill.

Ban on New Leasehold Houses and Future of Flats:

  • The Bill enforces a ban on new leasehold houses, aligning with past government intentions. However, disappointment arises as the abolition of new leaseholds on flats is not pursued, leaving homeowners in this category awaiting further reform.

Homeowners Alliance's Response:

  • Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, welcomes the proposed reforms while expressing disappointment in certain aspects. The Alliance advocates for a complete ban on new leasehold flats and continues to campaign for commonhold flats.

Timeline and Uncertainties:

  • Despite the comprehensive announcements, uncertainties remain regarding the timeline for implementation. Continued campaigning is advised, given the legislative process and potential changes in government commitments.

Lease Extension Dilemma: To Extend or Wait?

  • With uncertainties surrounding the implementation of reforms, leaseholders face the dilemma of whether to extend their leases immediately or wait. Factors such as lease length, circumstances, and expert advice play a crucial role in decision-making.

Future Inclusions in the Bill:

  • The scope of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill is yet to be fully revealed. Necessary changes, including a lease extension calculator and the abolition of marriage value, remain unclear but are crucial for a holistic reform.

Marriage Value Abolition: A Tricky Issue:

  • Marriage value, a significant concern for leaseholders with terms less than 80 years, needs abolition according to the government. However, the issue remains complex, as freeholders may rightfully demand compensation.

In conclusion, the proposed leasehold reforms present a transformative shift in property ownership dynamics. As the legislative process unfolds, stakeholders are encouraged to stay informed and engaged in the evolving landscape.

Here is how Contract Checking LLP can help:

n a historic moment during the King’s Speech on November 7th, the government announced the forthcoming introduction of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, ushering in a new era for property ownership in England and Wales. Amidst this transformative landscape, Contract Checking LLP emerges as a crucial partner, offering expertise in leases, contract checking, and drafting to navigate the evolving legal terrain.

  1. Ban on New Leasehold Houses and Simplified Processes:
    • The government intends to prohibit new leasehold houses, promoting the prevalence of freehold properties. Contract Checking LLP stands ready to assist in comprehending and adapting to this pivotal shift.
  2. Easier Lease Extensions and Freehold Acquisition:
    • The Bill aims to streamline and reduce the cost of extending leases and acquiring freeholds for existing properties. Contract Checking LLP ensures a smooth transition for homeowners navigating these changes.
  3. Extended Lease Terms and Ground Rent Reduction:
    • With proposed extensions from 90 to 990 years and a ground rent reduction to £0, Contract Checking LLP offers guidance on optimizing these changes for homeowners.
  4. Transparency and Redress Mechanisms:
    • The Bill emphasizes transparency in service charges and expands access to redress schemes. Contract Checking LLP addresses the need for clarity in property transactions.
  5. Government's Approach to Leasehold Flats and Ground Rent Cap:
    • Despite the ban on new leasehold houses, the government falls short of abolishing leaseholds for flats. Contract Checking LLP navigates the implications of this decision for homeowners and advocates for further reform.

Government Consultation on Ground Rent Cap:

  • The government recognizes the complexity of ground rent issues and plans to consult on capping ground rent. Contract Checking LLP supports the need for a thorough consultation to ensure fair and reasonable charges.

Leasehold Houses Ban and Concerns:

  • The Bill bans the sale of new leasehold houses, a move welcomed by Contract Checking LLP. However, concerns arise regarding the omission of a complete ban on new leaseholds for flats, highlighting missed opportunities for reform.

Homeowners Alliance Response:

  • Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, welcomes the promise of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill but expresses disappointment in certain areas. Contract Checking LLP aligns with the Alliance's commitment to advocating for comprehensive reforms.

Timeline and Uncertainties:

  • While the King’s Speech outlined significant changes, uncertainties linger regarding the timeline and implementation of reforms. Contract Checking LLP advises a proactive approach and continued engagement amidst the evolving legal landscape.

To Extend or Wait: Expert Advice for Leaseholders:

  • Contract Checking LLP collaborates with experts like Linz Darlington of Homehold to provide insights for leaseholders considering extensions. Individual circumstances, lease length, and future reforms influence the decision-making process.

Necessary Additions to the Bill:

  • Contract Checking LLP underscores the importance of a lease extension calculator and the abolition of marriage value. The firm advocates for simpler valuation processes and supports the government's commitment to future reform stages.

In a dynamic era of property reforms, Contract Checking LLP stands as a reliable partner, offering expertise and guidance to empower individuals navigating the evolving leasehold landscape. Stay informed, engaged, and secure with Contract Checking LLP by your side.

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