A new guide designed to help London leaseholders has been released by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, with the Mayor also stepping up his calls on ministers to overhaul the leasehold system for buyers in the capital.
Approximately a third of London’s homes – and more than 90% of new-build housing – are owned on a leasehold basis. Many leaseholders often complain that it is a complex and confusing form of homeownership.
As a result, Khan has called for wholesale reform of the leasehold system, including a long-term shift towards alternative tenures such as commonhold. For now, he says he is aiming to ensure London's leaseholders have access to high-quality information on their rights and obligations.
The Mayor has created a new leaseholder portal at london.gov.uk/leasehold, with information on the difference between leasehold, freehold, and renting, as well as advice on buying the freehold for a block of flats, and pursuing tribunal proceedings against a freeholder if an enfranchisement agreement can’t be reached.
In addition, there is a glossary of useful terms to help leaseholders understand the complex language often used in leasehold agreements.
According to a recent NAEA Propertymark study, some 94% of leaseholders said they regretted buying leasehold properties. Meanwhile, a National Leaseholder Survey in 2016 found that 65% would welcome extra information on their rights and responsibilities. With these findings in mind, the Mayor believes it is vital that buyers are better informed about the obligations and risks involved in acquiring a leasehold property.
While the government funds the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) – an advice service for leaseholders in England and Wales – Khan believes ministers have so far failed to make sure it is fit for purpose for a rapidly expanding sector.
The guide provided by the Mayor aims to act as an alternative starting point for Londoners seeking information about leasehold, directing users to seek further, more detailed advice from legal professionals and organisations who specialise in housing and leasehold advice where necessary.
“For too many Londoners being a leaseholder is a complex and confusing legal minefield,” James Murray, deputy mayor for housing and residential development, said.
“Beyond the financial commitments, the option of extending a lease or buying a freehold can present real legal and financial challenges for anyone who is not well versed in property law. The Mayor’s new online guide will give London’s leaseholders the basic knowledge they need to understand their rights, and will help them know what to do if they think those rights are being abused.”
He added: “The Government has so shown no real ambition to overhaul leasehold, nor to help existing leaseholders with the challenges they face. That’s why the Mayor is urging Government to prioritise legislation to help both new and existing leaseholders, and in the meanwhile we are doing all we can to help leaseholders in the capital with advice and guidance on their rights.”