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Gove criticised for “unhelpful” leasehold pledges amid reform delays

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has been slammed for “unhelpful” comments about abolishing leasehold after it emerged that there may not be enough time to enact such changes.

Gove committed to abolishing the leasehold system earlier this year in interviews with The Sunday Times and during parliamentary debates.

But it is now being reported that Downing Street has pushed back due to insufficient time for such changes, which means any reforms could be watered down.

Katie Cohen, residential property partner at Keystone Law, said his comments have already caused uncertainty in the market and were “unhelpful, short-sighted and without any guidance.” 

She said: “It sent many leaseholders undertaking statutory lease extension claims into a frenzy with clients withdrawing notices on a whim that leasehold would be abolished. A majority of Practitioners within the field really welcome leasehold reform.

“There are far too many pitfalls for the unwary and the system as whole needs reformation to make the process simpler for leaseholders to acquire their freeholds or extend their leases.”

Cohen said the idea that leasehold could be abolished overnight is completely unrealistic, adding: “As ever, the devil will be very much in the detail concerning the proposed reforms.

“It has been difficult to effectively advise clients as to their next steps without any real steer as to the likely changes to be announced. Whilst it is hoped that changes will be brought in quickly, in reality this will take time. 

“There will be much debate on both the freeholder and leaseholder side to achieve a mutually acceptable and working piece of legislation that balances the interests of both sides.”


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