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Leasehold & Freehold Reforms: Golden or Missed Opportunity?

Tariq Mubarak, Real Estate Solicitor and Consultant, comments

In the 2019 general election manifesto, the current Conservative Government stated: “We will continue with our reforms to leasehold including implementing our ban on the sale of new leasehold homes, restricting ground rents to a peppercorn, and providing necessary mechanisms of redress for tenants.”

In the Queen’s Speech in Parliament on 11 May 2021, Her Majesty said: “My Government will help more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent. Laws to modernise the planning system, so that more homes can be built, will be brought forward, along with measures to end the practice of ground rents for new leasehold properties [Planning Bill, Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill]. My Ministers will establish in law a new Building Safety Regulator to ensure that the tragedies of the past are never repeated [Building Safety Bill].”

The Government acted quickly. The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act was passed into law and came into force on 30 June 2022. In summary, it abolished anything apart from peppercorn ground rents being charged in any new qualifying long leases of residential properties.

In the King’s Speech in Parliament on 7 November 2023, His Majesty said: “My Ministers will bring forward a bill to reform the housing market by making it cheaper and easier for leaseholders to purchase their freehold and tackling the exploitation of millions of homeowners through punitive service charges. Renters will benefit from stronger security of tenure and better value, while landlords will benefit from reforms to provide certainty that they can regain their properties when needed.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities then launched a consultation on reforms to leasehold and freehold laws. The preamble to the consultation stated: “This consultation seeks views on limiting the level of ground rent that leaseholders can be required to pay in England and Wales. It asks for views on the following: 

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