This week in Parliament is the Second Reading of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill.  

Leaseholders across the country face a wide range of challenges, such as high service charges, a lack of transparency, freeholders who block attempts to exercise the Right to Manage and excessive administration charges. 

The scale of this issue is clear. It is estimated that there are 4.98 million leasehold homes in England. Leaseholds disproportionately effect the North West as around 28% of houses in the North West are leasehold, compared with 8% across England. 

I welcome many of the measures within the bill such as changes to the calculation of premium payable for lease extensions or collectively buying the freehold, the end of marriage value, introduction of 990-year extensions, ground rent reforms, and freehold estate regulation. 

However, this scaled-back bill does not go far enough, and falls far short of what leaseholders were promised.  

There are a number of concerning weaknesses in the bill.  

It is very disappointing that though flats make up 70% of all leasehold properties, the Government appears set on legislating only for new houses to be sold as freehold. This leaves those who buy flats trapped in an archaic system of home ownership. 

The Government had previously stated that the bill would ban developers from selling new houses under leasehold, yet the bill does not include clauses to enact these commitments.  

The Government has also not taken forward in the bill the Law Commission’s recommendations on reinvigorating commonhold.  

Finally, key rates used for calculating lease extension and freehold purchase premiums are missing from the bill.  

The short fallings of this long-awaited bill look set ensure leaseholders will be fobbed off.  

Labour will not oppose the Bill at Second Reading. This is not because we support the Bill in its current form (which is unacceptable), but to allow us to table amendments to the Bill later in the process. We will then consider the view in its amended form before we vote for a final time at the Third Reading.  

A Labour government will make commonhold the default tenure for all new properties as part of our commitment to fundamentally and comprehensively reform the leasehold system. This will be achieved through enacting the Law Commission’s recommendations on enfranchisement, commonhold and right to manage in full. 

The Labour Party is committed to a complete overhaul of the leasehold system and reinvigoration of commonhold, so it becomes the default tenure and renders leasehold obsolete. 

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