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Government Unveils Leasehold Reform Plans with Mixed Industry Feedback

In a notable statement to Parliament, King Charles announced the Government’s intention to progress with substantial reforms within the property sector, despite potential opposition from Conservative MPs. The changes are set to significantly reshape rental management through the Renters (Reform) Act and to restrict the sale of leasehold houses, although this restriction will not apply to apartments.

The King expressed in his address, “Renters will benefit from stronger security of tenure and better value while landlords will benefit from reforms to provide certainty that they can regain their properties when needed.”

He also touched upon leasehold concerns, stating the Government’s goal to “reform the housing market by making it cheaper and easier for leaseholders to purchase their freehold and tackling the exploitation of millions of homeowners through punitive service charges.”

These statements have stirred discussions among property professionals. RICS approved of the commitment to scrap ‘no-fault’ evictions and the need for judicial reform but noted the lack of a defined timeline. Meanwhile, Jonathan Daines from emphasized the importance of balancing tenant protections with the interests of responsible landlords who may be impacted by the proposed legislation.

Rob Poole of Glide, part of the Leaders Romans Group, voiced skepticism about replacing leasehold with commonhold in large blocks, due to potential complexities in dispute resolution. Samuel Lear from Charles Russell Speechlys emphasized the necessity for new laws to fairly balance the interests of landlords and tenants, cautioning that an imbalance could lead landlords to exit the market.

Timothy Douglas from Propertymark expressed relief over the Government’s acknowledgment of the need for leasehold reform and the safeguarding of landlord rights, which he deems essential before making significant alterations to England’s private renting framework.

The government reiterated its commitment to leaseholder reforms in the King’s Speech, introducing a bill aimed at facilitating the purchase of freeholds by leaseholders and combating excessive service charges.

Industry reactions have been diverse. JLL’s Daniel Walmsley welcomed the announcement but noted it lacked some of the broader reforms previously suggested. Lauren Fraser from Charles Russell Speechlys remarked on the surprising scarcity of detail regarding the reforms. John Stephenson from BBD Pitmans viewed the proposed legislation as a welcome move for homeowners, especially those with shorter lease terms.

Rob Poole pointed out the importance of leasehold reform and the potential challenges with estate charges, while Mark Chick from ALEP and Bishop & Sewell LLP Solicitors stressed the necessity for careful consideration of all proposed changes.

The next steps in these reforms are highly anticipated by industry professionals, leaseholders, and landlords alike, as the Government seeks to transform the landscape of property ownership and rental in the UK.