Homeowners with leasehold properties could benefit from a new bill if current proposals to improve residential leasehold management are accepted by the Government.
The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill aims to give leaseholders more rights and introduce a new form of tenure called commonhold to improve future ownership and management of blocks of flats. A consultation paper outlining the bill will be issued on 8 April.
Housing minister Sally Keeble said: ‘The consultation paper considers how new rights and safeguards proposed within the bill can be strengthened through the use of voluntary controls such as accreditation schemes, giving a regulatory body the power to ban certain persons or organisations from the management of residential leasehold property or requiring managers of leasehold property to obtain licences.’
Proposals outlined in the consultation paper include giving leaseholders of flats the right to manage their block, protection against unreasonable charges for improvements and preventing landlords from forfeiting leases as a result of trivial debts.
Michael Day, director of estate agent Connell, said the bill should be positive for the property market, putting sellers in control of maintenance problems when trying to attract buyers.
‘This is a good move, as problems with maintenance contracts in leasehold arrangements can affect the saleability of flats. If there are unkempt gardens or scruffy communal areas and the maintenance company or landlord cannot be contacted, the rest of the block is affected. This bill represents a leap forward for leaseholders,’ he said.
If the bill is passed, people living in flats will be able to seek a commonhold tenure ‘ meaning flats can be owned individually, with common areas being owned collectively.
Day said that although the introduction of commonhold tenures looks likely, it may be some time before more people benefit from the move.
‘Commonhold will sit between freehold and leasehold. I think the first places we will see this introduced will be new build properties. With existing properties it may be harder to introduce than the bill suggests. The devil will most definitely lie in the detail,’ he said.