The report of the Parliamentary committee on residential leasehold reform has been published containing strong recommendations, many of them radical, and some where it is not at all clear how they could work in practice. Nevertheless, this is likely to be the future and a good commercial conclusion may be to assume that this will be the direction of things, and then to “adapt and survive”, and, preferably, prosper.
Mixed use and pure residential schemes may be affected by reform, in terms of investment value of existing portfolios, the ability to finance development or acquisition, and indeed the very legal basis upon which residential flat owners will hold their properties. The motivation of Parliament is to right the anomalous way in which residential homes, particularly flats, are owned and managed. This, despite the fact that there have been rafts of legislation, enacted over the last 50 years, that were meant to give leasehold house and flat owners far stronger rights and control over the properties they owned. Other countries around the world have a “condominium” land holding system for flats, viewed as much less problematic than the UK system where a landlord keeps a role as property owner even when all the flats in a building are sold. This motivated the creation of the law of Commonhold here, which although already on the statute books has had little or no impact on the way in which homes are owned. The Parliamentary committee asked itself the valid question as to where things currently are.
A no-choice Commonhold revival? Banishment of Ground Rents, potentially without proper compensation to landlords? In this “deep dive” article by head of Real Estate Dispute Resolution at HSF, Matthew Bonye sets out how the laws are currently framed, what is thought to be wrong with them, what Parliament wants to do, and then he tells you what he really thinks about it all.
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