Regretting My Involvement with Leasehold Flats


Liz Winstanley regrets buying her leasehold flat in Manchester in 2018. After Storm Eunice damaged the roof of her top-floor apartment, she faced difficulties getting the problem fixed due to the leasehold nature of her property. She had to rely on a managing agent, FirstPort, who failed to address the issue promptly, leading to mould growth and forcing Liz to move out temporarily.

Leasehold property owners like Liz often face issues such as poor communication, inadequate repairs, and unjustified service charges. Critics argue that the leasehold system is outdated and unfair, allowing freeholders to extract money from leaseholders via managing agents.

The UK government acknowledges these issues and has proposed the Leasehold and Freehold (Reform) Bill, which aims to provide easier and less costly legal redress for leaseholders. The bill also calls for greater transparency regarding service charges but does not propose a cap on them. It also suggests extending new leases to a standard 990 years instead of the current 99 or 125 years.

However, Housing Secretary Michael Gove rejects calls for the complete abolition of the leasehold system due to its legal complexity. Critics argue that the proposed reforms are insufficient and that leaseholders should have full control over their homes and service charges.

The case of Anna, another leaseholder whose service charges for her flat in London’s Canary Wharf increased by 40% in two years, highlights the need for reform. Some owners in her block have even resorted to selling their flats at auction at reduced prices to avoid the charges.

Steven Herd of suggests replacing leasehold with commonhold, a system that would give homeowners collective control over their apartment blocks. He notes that especially younger first-time buyers are becoming increasingly aware of the pitfalls of the leasehold system.

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