The injustice of the leasehold law

My chief concern is about the injustice of the leasehold law which provides unscrupulous landlords, including some social housing providers, with opportunities to take advantage of both owning and renting tenants.

I’ve only had about two year’s experience of living in a retirement village with mixed tenure and have been shocked to find that some landlords may legally do anything they wish without meaningful consultation with tenants and much, if any, regard for residents and some are virtually unregulated.  Professional guidelines for open financial accountancy can be, and are, disregarded. 

This situation affects elders more than younger people as elders are more likely to be vulnerable to poor advice, unfair and exploitative practices.  Most elders want a quiet life and reassurance that the landlord complies with reasonably high professional standards.  Mentally, they are more forgetful, more easily confused by legal complexity and more easily hoodwinked.   I guess that all tenants want the same.

Voluntary self-regulation has been highly criticised by AgeUK and many others.  Investigations, tribunals and newspapers have highlighted appalling cases.  As a result, the Competition & Markets Authority in December 2014, made a number of detailed recommendations aimed at improving:

  • prospective purchasers’ awareness of leaseholders’ obligations
  • disclosure, transparency and communication between property managers and leaseholders
  • leaseholders’ access to appropriate forms of redress.         

This attempt to reform leasehold law and bring greater fairness and protection for consumers was generally disregarded by Government and allows murky practices to continue.   

When will the Government address the issues identified by the CMA and causing leaseholder frustration and anger, namely :

  • poor provision of information to prospective purchasers’ regarding their obligations and service charge liabilities for leasehold flats. 
  • the lack of control over the appointment of property managers,
  • poor standards of service,
  • high charges for services arranged by property managers, 
  • unexpected costs and being charged for works they consider unnecessary,
  • poor communication between property managers and leaseholders, 
  • poor transparency of financial transactions,
  • difficulties in getting redress over mis-selling and mal-practice.

Do these problems affect people renting?  Do many people really understand what is ‘lawfully’ going on?  Is this true just and equitable?  Are we heading for another scandal similar to PPI and banking scams?  When will the Government truly uphold universal values of integrity, respect, equality and co-operation and end this dubious and disgraceful arrangement?

Leasehold as a tenure is a significant business growth area for social housing. As Ken, a social housing tenant has pointed out, some landlords are criticised for being less committed to effective engagement of these customers compared to tenants who rent their homes.

In addition to developing the first best practice guide to leasehold engagement, Tpas can also help you to understand how you can best respond to leaseholders through our self-assessment tool.

We are committed to raising the standard of leasehold engagement for the benefit of landlords and tenants.