July 21, 2024

Countdown to a media storm over leasehold

This is not going to be a good week for Housing Minister Grant Shapps

Tomorrow (Monday August 20) sees the Dispatches documentary on Channel Four and the release of an influential report on leasehold by the liberal think tank CentreForum.

There will be an article on the subject in The Times by property writer Deirdre Hipwell.

But first off is an excellent polemic in today’s Independent on Sunday by Julian Knight: “Stop sheltering dodgy freeholders, Mr Shapps”.

It asks the following very pertinent question:

“So who doesn’t want this regulation? Crooked freeholders, shadier management companies and our old friend Grant Shapps, the housing minister, who put the black spot on laws designed to protect leaseholders when he first came into office.”

MPs from all parties are now realising that – yet again – something must be done to make leasehold fair for residents.

“The Centre Forum points out that the Government’s housing policy – act as cheerleader for the private sector to build more flats –will only draw more people into this unfair relationship. The report’s authors point out: “Any housing strategy that has the creation of more leasehold properties at its centre must be accompanied by an improved system of leasehold tenure that is fit for purpose.”

The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership’s message is more emphatic and simple: leasehold cannot be made to work, so just stop building any more of  it.

Build commonhold instead, like the rest of the world.

This will end the absurd racket whereby property world’s most unsavoury characters buy up freeholds, appoint themselves as managing agent, load the block insurance, and think of all sorts of urgent and expensive works, on which they take a rake-off.

The whole sector is tarnished by this, and the trade bodies have colluded by remaining silent for years.

The Independent on Sunday article can be read here: