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Definitive leasehold reform is still far from a done deal

block of flats

Labour might be no more likely to deliver on promises to overhaul the leasehold system than the Conservatives, according to property experts.

After studying the main parties’ manifestos, James Carpenter, senior associate in the property litigation team at law firm Forsters, says Labour promises to ‘tackle unregulated ground rent charges’, without explaining how.

“They have not adopted the Conservatives’ policy of a ground rent cap of £250,” explains Carpenter. “That probably recognises the difficulty of legislating in this incredibly complex area, and an unwillingness to tackle the issue of compensation to landlords,” he adds.


However, Labour promises to ban new leasehold flats and ensure commonhold is the default tenure in the future. “Making commonhold mandatory is a far more direct and potentially effective policy than the Conservatives’ woolly promise to make it ‘easier to take-up’.”

Many leaseholders will be concerned that Labour, after nearly 15 years out of power, will concentrate parliamentary time on other issues – such as renters’ reform, says Linz Darlington, MD of lease extension specialists, Homehold.


“As valuable as such reforms are, they could leave leaseholders out in the cold,” he adds. “Before the end of this Parliament, it would be positive to see the introduction of a more comprehensive Leasehold Reform Bill which finally puts the last nail in the coffin for this tenure – including phasing out ground rents for existing leaseholders, ending forfeiture and requiring commonhold as a mandatory alternative for new flats.

“When taken in isolation, the Conservatives’ commitment to complete the process of Leasehold Reform doesn’t sound too bad, but it is arguably just a concession that they left leasehold reform too late in the last parliamentary process.”

Human rights

Mark Chick (pictured right), director of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners, believes the prospect of a complete ban on all ground rents may not be possible for reasons connected to the possibility of a human rights challenge. “What we don’t know at this stage is what the appetite of some freeholders may be to challenge these leasehold reforms together with the proposed valuation changes that the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 will bring in.”


Leasehold reform
Labour party