There’s been a very low expression of interest in Commonhold, despite the government pushing the new tenure as an alternative to the controversial leasehold option.
Back in January the government announced its intention to establish a Commonhold Council, which would work towards the removal of controversial features of alternative tenures such as ground rent and marriage value.
Among the changes announced was the establishment of the Commonhold Council to advise the government on the implementation of a reformed Commonhold system.
However, a recent poll of members of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners - conducted at the request of the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - found that 90.9 per cent of respondents had seen no increase in general Commonhold enquiries since the announcement.
Specific enquiries on the subject have seen an even smaller rise, with only 3.6 per cent of the respondents reporting an increase of this type.
A further poll of ALEP members conducted last month revealed scepticism as to whether the proposed reforms will make it into law. Only one third of respondents were confident that the government will actually bring forward the reforms.
Enfranchisement solicitor Mark Chick, a director of ALEP, says: “98 per cent of delegates who voted at our recent conference indicated that they thought there was no prospect of reform in the next two years - something that is perhaps not surprising, given the number of things that will need to be ‘fixed’ to make Commonhold work.
“The ALEP survey responses suggest that it is very much ‘early days’ in the major project that is the reform of Commonhold and the government is not yet out of the starting blocks on this.”
ALEP members work as valuers, solicitors and barristers in the leasehold sector; they say that their clients are those who would be most likely to convert to the Commonhold model.
The association says that initial views from members are that few can see benefits from Commonhold that cannot be achieved through leasehold, in the short term.
One respondent, who works as a valuer, is quoted in a statement from ALEP as saying: “Commonhold is probably seen as unnecessary, if similar results can be obtained by the lessees of flats purchasing the freehold of their block and extending their leases, with which the majority of flat owners are familiar.
Mark Chick continues: “Another factor in these discussions is that, while government has stated its commitment to reform, there is no definitive timescale as to when any of the measures may be implemented. This makes hard for leaseholders and those advising them to be clear about when these reforms are likely to become law.”