Gove's leasehold reforms see limited support, poll shows

New polling suggests that just 18% of people would be comfortable assuming the legal and financial obligations for managing a building, as they would if the Government pushes ahead with its proposed reforms.

Related topics:  leasehold,  michael gove
Amy Loddington | Online Editor, Financial Reporter
17th August 2023
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The findings come as the Department for Levelling up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) quietly published a key report last month which undermines the Government's own case for reform. The report suggests that the vast majority of people hold a positive or neutral view of the leasehold system in England and Wales – casting doubt on DLUHC’s leasehold reform agenda.

The Government report, which was released over a year after the initial research, was published on the department's website on the last day before Parliamentary recess. It found that a majority of people are “not interested in personally playing an active part in the management of their building”, especially in light of highly publicised issues such as the cladding remediation.

The Government’s findings are supported by new independent polling from JL Partners, commissioned by the Residential Freehold Association, which reveals that fewer than a fifth of people say they would be comfortable assuming the legal and financial liabilities for managing a building, as they would under a commonhold system.

The Government’s research is based on extensive focus group testing and shows that people feel the leasehold system limits their stress, as residents are not required to arrange repairs or maintenance, liaise or negotiate with neighbours, and do not hold legal responsibility for repairs or ensuring fellow leaseholders pay the required fees and service charges.

One respondent said, “I work full time and then on my days off, I want to relax and see my friends not be dealing with what would seem like another job.” Another respondent, said, “I'm a single mother, with 2 kids, this is too much. Unless somebody makes it a lot easier for me or comes and helps me do what I need to do, I can’t contribute to this.”

The report contradicts the Government’s rhetoric on the subject, with the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, saying, “We need to end this feudal form of tenure and ensure individuals have the right to enjoy their own property fully.”

The research also raised concerns on how an alternative system of tenure would work in practice in larger, more complex blocks, with research suggesting that blocks with 8-20 units would be the cut-off point for any alternative form of tenure to function.

Mick Platt, Director of the RFA, commented:

“We have been calling on the Government to conduct an impact assessment on leasehold reform for several years now but they have consistently refused to do so and we now know why.

"There is simply no desire from residents, or the public at large, for the policy proposals they are pursuing. Policymaking should be based on evidence, not the desires of a vocal minority who would rather see leasehold abolished than properly regulated.

"The Government must seriously consider their position on this issue which will affect 4.9 million leaseholders across the country who, according to the Government’s own research, are largely happy with the leasehold system and do not want unnecessary burdens placed on them.”

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