Radical reforms could make life easier for leaseholders who want to extend the lease on their property or buy the freehold. The Law Commission has come up with a series of proposals to improve the current system in England and Wales.
The Ministry of Housing and the Welsh Government had jointly asked the Law Commission to review the current system in England and Wales to make the process of enfranchisement – extending a lease or buying freehold – more simple, easier, quicker and more cost-effective.
The commission was also asked to examine the options on how to reduce the price leaseholders would pay to enfranchise, while ensuring landlords receive sufficient compensation on their property interests.
Consultation open to public
The commission has now published a consultation paper on the process that is open to the public for comments and suggestions until November 18.
Entitled Leasehold home ownership: buying your freehold or extending your lease, the consultation paper makes the following suggestions for reform:
- 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.
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.”
System is complicated and expensive
The leasehold system in England has been widely criticised as expensive and difficult for leasehold homeowners to navigate. In leasehold, a homeowner owns only the property and not the land on which it stands. The land is owned by the freeholder who leases it to the property owner for a fixed period of time.
However, the system is complicated and is the product of more than 50 Acts of Parliament, meaning there are wide variations and differences within each leasehold situation. It’s estimated there are around 4.2 million leasehold properties in England alone.
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