A petition which calls on the government to outlaw “feudal” leaseholds on properties is gathering thousands of signatures.
It was started by Katie Kendrick of Ellesmere Port – a leading campaigner on the subject – and has clocked up more than 2,500 signatures in just over a week.
The government agreed earlier this year to carry out a review into what it described as “abuses” of the leasehold system.
Leasehold generally applies to flats with shared spaces, but developers – particularly in the north west of England – have been increasingly selling houses on these terms, often charging spiraling ground rents. The cost of buying out such leases has also rocketed into the tens of thousands in some cases, taking new homeowners by surprise.
Katie set up the National Leasehold Campaign after having first-hand experience of the problems. She was quoted more than £13,000 to buy the freehold on her home after originally being told it would cost between £2,000 and £4,000.
“The government are starting to take notice, they are realising these kind of abuses can not be allowed to continue,” said Katie, who set up the National Leasehold Campaign group in January. It now has almost 8,000 members of Facebook.
Many homeowners in Ellesmere Port have been affected, and the town’s MP – Justin Madders – is the vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group looking into leasehold reform. An announcement on the findings of the review is expected this autumn.
In the meantime, Katie’s petition is racking up thousands of signatures.
The online petition states: “Leasehold should be replaced by ‘commonhold’ for flats which happens in the rest of the Western world.
“Houses should never be leasehold since they sit on their own freehold plots. Therefore leasehold should be abolished.
“The government should take action to protect those existing leaseholders (flats and houses) with onerous lease terms which have become toxic. A full review of leasehold legislation is needed.”
The petition explains how leasehold dates back to Feudal times, and only exists in England and Wales.
Katie added: “There is a strong possibility government may ban future houses being sold on a leasehold basis. However, we are determined to not let them forget the thousands that are already stuck in this position.
“We will continue to fight for justice. All we want is our homes and the land it sits on.”
The petition will be delivered to Prime Minister Theresa May MP once it has 5,000 signatures. It can be viewed at www.change.org/ p/theresa-may-mp-abolish-leasehold-strict-regulation-for-residential-managing-agents-be-introduced.
See full story in the Chester Leader