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Government unveils new bid to push forward ‘commonhold’ concept

The government has set up a committee to push forward ideas on the collective form of homeownership known as commonhold.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has launched the Commonhold Council – an advisory panel of leasehold groups and industry experts who will inform the government on the future of this type of homeownership.

The commonhold model is used widely around the world and provides a structure for homeowners to collectively own the building their flat is in, with a greater say on their building’s management, shared facilities and related costs. 

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There are no hidden costs or charges, preventing some of the egregious practices currently seen in some leaseholds.

The Commonhold Council, chaired by a government minister Lord Greenhalgh, will form a partnership of leasehold groups and industry representatives. 

A government statement says: “Commonhold gives homeowners more autonomy over the decisions that are made. They are in control of their building in what is known as the building’s ‘commonhold association’.”

The creation of the group newly follows recommendations made by the Law Commission to simplify the commonhold system and expand its use for both new homes and existing leasehold buildings. 

The government says it will respond to these recommendations in due course but Jenrick says: “We want to give homeowners across the country the autonomy they deserve. The new Commonhold Council ... will – together with leasehold groups and industry experts – pave the way for homeowners in England to access the benefits that come with greater control over your home.”

Professor Nick Hopkins, Commissioner for Property Law at the Law Commission adds: “I am delighted to be able to support the Council’s work, which will pave the way for commonhold to be used widely, ensuring homeowners will be able to call their homes their own.”

Commonhold is a form of freehold home ownership, largely for use in flats or other interdependent buildings – and provides a structure to manage any shared parts of the building.

There is no third-party landlord - homeowners themselves have shared control and responsibility over the management of the building, shared facilities and their associated charges. 

Homeowners may choose to employ a professional managing agent to look after the building, but they remain in control.

Like other forms of freehold ownership, commonhold comes with shared responsibilities for homeowners to repair, maintain and insure buildings - or employ professionals to do so on their behalf. The Council will provide advice on how to support homeowners in taking on greater responsibilities for their building and will also help to ensure services, such as lending, property management and conveyancing, are ready to provide for widespread take up.

Forms of commonhold are found in many other parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, and many parts of Europe. Commonhold currently exists as a form of homeownership in this country and legislation came into force for England and Wales in 2004.

The newly appointed members of the Commonhold Council are:

- Damian Greenish, British Property Federation

- Paul Broadhead, Building Societies Association

- Bob Smytherman, Federation of Private Residents’ Associations

- Kate Faulkner, Home Buying & Selling Group

- David O’Leary, Home Builders Federation

- Andrew Bulmer, Institute of Residential Property Management

- Philip Freedman CBE, QC (Hon), Law Society

- Sebastian O’Kelly, Leasehold Knowledge Partnership

- Katie Kendrick, National Leasehold Campaign

- Professor Chris Hodges, University of Oxford

- Charles Roe, UK Finance

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