More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Filter by Categories
Assured Shorthold tenancy
Benefits and care
Housing Conditions
Housing law - All
Introductory and Demoted tenancies
Leasehold and shared ownership
Licences and occupiers
Mortgage possession
Regulation and planning
Trusts and Estoppel
Unlawful eviction and harassment

Thin gruel, delayed expectations, and welcome absences – the King’s Speech


A couple of case reports are on the go, but maybe significantly delayed, I’m working up to moving house next week, and physically and mentally, everything is all over the place and probably in the wrong box.

But we have to note the King’s Speech and the apparent government legislative agenda for housing and leasehold. It is, sadly (though not entirely sadly) notable for what is not in it.

The speech confirmed the carrying over of the Renters (Reform) Bill – soon heading into committee stage. But as we now know from the DLUHC response to the select committee report on the bill proposals, the reform to end section 21 won’t (under this govt) be brought into force unless and until various ‘reforms’ to the court process are in place, so who knows when, if ever (under this Govt). Meanwhile, there are some horrors like the proposed new ground 8A in the Bill to be addressed, let alone rumoured changes for private sector student accommodation, and the evidential thresholds for the selling/family to live there grounds of possession.

On leasehold, what was offered was more or less what was rumoured and commented on by J here.  According to the briefing note, the ‘Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill’ will:

Empowering leaseholders:
o Making it cheaper and easier for existing leaseholders in houses and flats to extend their lease or buy their freehold – so that leaseholders pay less to gain security over the future of their home.
o Increasing the standard lease extension term from 90 years to 990 years for both houses and flats, with ground rent reduced to £0. This will ensure that leaseholders can enjoy secure, ground rent free ownership of their properties for years to come, without the hassle and expense of future lease extensions.
o Removing the requirement for a new leaseholder to have owned their house or flat for two years before they can benefit from these changes – so that more leaseholders can exercise their right to the security of freehold ownership or a 990-year lease extension as soon as possible.
o Increasing the 25 per cent ‘non-residential’ limit preventing leaseholders in buildings with a mixture of homes and other uses such as shops and offices, from buying their freehold or taking over management of their buildings – to allow leaseholders in buildings with up to 50 per cent non- residential floorspace to buy their freehold or take over its management.

Improving leaseholders’ consumer rights:
o Making buying or selling a leasehold property quicker and easier by setting a maximum time and fee for the provision of information required to make a sale (such as building insurance or financial records) to a leaseholder by their freeholder (known as ‘landlords’).
o Requiring transparency over leaseholders’ service charges – so all leaseholders receive better transparency over the costs they are being charged by their freeholder or managing agent in a standardised comparable format and can scrutinise and better challenge them if they are unreasonable.
o Replacing buildings insurance commissions for managing agents, landlords and freeholders with transparent administration fees – to stop leaseholders being charged exorbitant, opaque commissions on top of their premiums.
o Extending access to “redress” schemes for leaseholders to challenge poor practice. We will require more freeholders to belong to a redress scheme so leaseholders can challenge them if needed.
o Scrapping the presumption for leaseholders to pay their freeholders’ legal costs when challenging poor practice.
o Granting freehold homeowners on private and mixed tenure estates the same rights of redress as leaseholders – by extending equivalent rights to transparency over their estate charges, access to support via redress schemes, and to challenge the charges they pay by taking a case to a Tribunal, just like existing leaseholders.
o Building on the legislation brought forward by the Building Safety Act 2022, ensuring freeholders and developers are unable to escape their liabilities to fund building remediation work – protecting leaseholders by extending the measures in the Building Safety Act 2022 to ensure it operates as intended.

Reforming the leasehold market:
o Banning the creation of new leasehold houses so that – other than in exceptional circumstances – every new house in England and Wales will be freehold from the outset.

We will also consult on capping existing ground rents, to ensure that all leaseholders are protected from making payments that require no service or benefit in return, have no requirement to be reasonable, and can cause issues when people want to sell their properties. Subject to that consultation, we will look to introduce a cap through this Bill.

Now there is little here that is actively bad, as J noted, but the timidity is notable. While it appears to be implementing some parts of the Law Commission recommendations (scrapping marriage value, qualification threshold for enfranchisement, extended 990 year term on extension and so on), there is notably little (well nothing) on actively pushing towards commonhold for new developments and blocks. New leases for flats (though not for houses) remain the default tenure without restriction.

There are also some oddities – what, for instance is the ‘presumption for freeholders to pay their freeholder’s legal costs’ in a Tribunal case? There is no presumption – it all depends on what clauses there are in the lease that might allow it. I suppose this might mean either a rebuttable presumption that a section 20C order will be made in Tribunal proceedings, or more challengingly, a complete ban.

I’m also a bit confused about extending access to redress schemes by requiring ‘more freeholders’ to belong to them – there aren’t any redress schemes at all involving freeholders that I’m aware of.

A standard form for service charge demands is a good idea, one that has been pushed by RICS and others for quite a while. I’m not sure how effective it would be in improving transparency from the worst offenders, but it certainly can’t hurt (and also make Tribunal proceedings more straightforward).

The consultation on capping existing ground rents? As any fan of Yes Minister knows, for that which you wish not to implement but need to sound concerned about, you announce a consultation into.

Also, while the Building Safety Act certainly has a lot of flaws, heaven knows, I don’t know what ‘ensuring it operates as intended’ means. Not least because it was often not clear what was intended. So we will have to wait and see.

But overall, there is the sense that a planned larger and more transformative project has been chopped and stunted. Whether from lack of parliamentary time, or political pressure from major donors and party placemen, is anyone’s guess…

Then lastly the announcement that wasn’t. Suella Braverman’s proposed tent snatching law. Thankfully, the Home Secretary (I still can’t entirely believe that is true) over-reached herself in her bid for the post election leadership and her plans to legally snatch tents on city streets and fine charities that provide tents to the street homeless didn’t make it into the King’s Speech. The sound of people silently distancing themselves from her was deafening.

Update 9 Nov 2023 – a 6 week DLUHC consultation on restricting existing ground rents is now live – setting out 5 options

  • capping ground rents at a peppercorn
  • setting maximum financial value for ground rent
  • capping ground rents at a percentage of the property value,
  • limiting ground rent to the original value when the lease was agreed
  • freezing ground rent at current levels.

So I may have been a touch too cynical…





Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. witstert

    Could a homeless person get a ?hold for a tent? Will SB change Country to one more suited to her persona?

  2. TC

    One of the case studies provided: “We are making it significantly cheaper for leaseholders to extend their leases. For example, a young first-time buyer in a £250,000 leasehold flat in Birmingham with 76 years left on the lease would currently have to pay around £16,000 to extend the lease plus around £10,000 to cover their costs and the freeholder’s costs. Under our reforms, they will now only pay around £9,000 plus their own legal costs for a 990-year extension – a saving of over £10,000.”

    This seems to imply that under the new plans the leaseholder would not be liable for the freeholder’s costs: the leaseholder would under the reforms only “pay around £9,000 plus their own legal costs”. No mention is made of leaseholders still having to pay the freeholder’s costs under the reforms, whereas those costs are mentioned as part of the total payable by leaseholders currently. That seems to me to mean that the Bill may do away with section 60 costs. Do you think this is reading too much into it, or do you think this is something that is actually in contemplation?

    • Giles Peaker

      Yes, certainly possible. I think very likely based on Law Commission proposals.

      • stephenb5a2f4fc5b

        Giles, I think the opposite based on the Law Commission instruction to Catherine Callaghan

        But I do think the landlord should bear their own costs, especially if they acquired or created their interest post 1993. if the formula as is broadly remains

        The Law Commission in giving instruction to Catherine Callaghan observed :-

        (8) We therefore concluded that there is insufficient justification for departing from
        the position that applies to non-litigation costs in open market transactions. A
        landlord against whom an enfranchisement claim is made should not generally
        be entitled to recover his or her non-litigation costs from the leaseholder.

        (9) However, we also concluded that this argument would not hold if Government
        adopted valuation options that marked a clear departure from an attempt to
        capture market value. If such reforms were adopted, the argument that the
        landlord was being treated more favourably than would have been the case in
        4 the open market falls away. As such, a leaseholder would be required to
        contribute to his or her landlord’s costs.

        • Giles Peaker

          Really? The instruction was on enfranchisement, not lease extension, but here is the Law Commission 2020 recommendations. Including

          “eliminating or controlling leaseholders’ liability to pay their landlord’s costs, in place of the current requirement for leaseholders to pay their landlord’s uncapped costs, which can equal or exceed the enfranchisement price.”

          And Catherine Callaghan KC’s advice was that the risk of challenge on landlord costs on a below market price scheme was ‘medium low’ if there was a fixed costs regime for landlord costs.

          So, either no costs or fixed costs looks likely.

  3. Peter

    I think the proposals are not too bad after all these years of doing nothing at all. Is the ban tents proposal the stupidest idea since David Cameron suggested that all benefit claimants should be weighed and their benefits cut if they had put on weight? Tough one.

  4. witstert

    Like the Cameron one. Passed me by. Wonder what I may have got considering I have lost about 30kg in about 34 months. Hmmm!


Leave a Reply (We can't offer advice on individual issues)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.