The Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP) has become the latest body to welcome the decision by Countryside Properties to scrap the requirement to pay ground rent on leasehold properties shown to have been sold with unfair contract terms.
As we have been reporting over recent days, the commitment from Countryside follows the enforcement action launched by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in September last year against four of the UK’s biggest housing developers – Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon Homes, Countryside and Barratt Developments – for using unfair contract terms and for mis-selling leasehold houses.
“The momentum behind leasehold reform continues to grow. The announcement by Countryside Properties will remove onerous and unfair clauses and end the doubling of ground rents every 10 to 15 years, meaning thousands more leaseholders are now more likely to be able to sell or remortage their properties,” Mark Chick, ALEP director, said.
“We would encourage any leaseholders who have been affected or who are unsure of how the proposed changes may affect them, to contact one of our members for advice.”
Yesterday, the National Leasehold Campaign – the UK’s biggest group calling for leasehold reform, with well over 22,000 members in its Facebook group – backed the CMA’s latest action on cracking down on onerous ground rents, but called for Taylor Wimpey to go further.
Yesterday also saw leasehold protesters gather in Parliament Square to demand change on a variety of issues, from cladding and insulation, to ground rent, service charges and increasing insurance.
The Leaseholders Together Rally, an event organised by the National Leasehold Campaign, Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and the End Our Cladding Scandal Campaign, protested ‘everything leasehold’ from 1pm to 4pm in Parliament Square yesterday.
Sarah Jones, Labour MP for Croydon Central and the Shadow Minister for Policing and Fire services, was among many guest speakers at the event, while Mike Amesbury, Shadow Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Weaver Vale MP, and Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, and Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care, were among returning speakers to the rally.
Amesbury has called for the government to do much more to tackle the leasehold scandal. “For each year that the Conservatives drag their feet, ever more innocent homeowners are being trapped in feudal leasehold homes, facing extortionate fees, poor service and restrictive contract terms without recourse.”
“We cannot wait for the CMA to investigate every abuse of leasehold. The Government must finally bring forward leasehold reform, which has been promised for years.”
The CMA’s investigation into leasehold malpractice is ongoing and it has called for more consumer powers to ensure issues are resolved at pace and met with fines if necessary.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said after the body’s latest action: “Other developers, such as Taylor Wimpey, and freehold investors now have the opportunity to do the right thing by their leaseholders and remove these problematic clauses from their contracts. If they refuse, we stand ready to step in and take further action – through the courts if necessary.”