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Ditch leasehold for commonhold says Law Commission

It’s time to expand the commonhold system of home ownership and give more people the chance to own their property outright without having to pay a lease.

That’s the view of the Law Commission, which has been carrying out a review of the leasehold system in England and Wales.

Gap in the market

Leasehold is seen as a restrictive and costly practice for home owners. Under this system, ownership of the land on which their property stands is retained by the landlord or freeholder. They must pay an annual ground rent for their lease, plus maintenance charges, and may lose their home if they breach the terms of the lease or if the lease is allowed to run out.

Under commonhold, each property owner owns their home outright and forms part of a limited company with the other owners in the development that then runs and maintains the shared areas.

Take-up has been poor

While commonhold was introduced in 2002, its take-up has been poor in England and Wales, with fewer than 50 developments now held as commonhold. This type of co-operative tenure is much more popular in Europe and the US, and the Law Commission envisages its planned reforms to simplify the system as a way of improving the take-up here.

Professor Nick Hopkins, the Law Commission’s commissioner, said: “Commonhold provides a once in a generation opportunity to rethink how we own property in England and Wales and offers homeowners an alternative system to leasehold.

“It involves a culture change, moving away from an ‘us and them’ mindset towards ‘us and ourselves’.

“We want to hear what people think of our proposals so we can be sure the commonhold system will work for homeowners and the wider property sector.”

Have your say on plans

At Fridaysmove, we work with expert conveyancing solicitors across England and Wales who know how the leasehold and commonhold systems works in minute detail. Instructing a property solicitor through Fridaysmove will give you the confidence to extend your lease or convert your property to commonhold.

You can also have your say on the Law Commission’s plans. Its public consultation will run until March 10.

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