Leasehold, quite rightly, remains not just an emotive topic given what has happened over the past decade, but it’s very much an ongoing issue to be dealt with too. One that all stakeholders have to be on top of, in a world in which transparency and clarity is absolutely paramount.
The other point to make here is around the sheer number of leasehold properties in the country; according to the most recent figures from the HM Land Registry there are 5.4 million leaseholds dwellings in England & Wales, so despite moves towards Commonhold the reality is that we are all going to be dealing with leasehold, in some way, shape or form, for all of our careers and beyond.
As an aside, leasehold remains very much on the agenda in terms of ‘What happens next?’ and how we can get to a system which is much more favourable to leaseholders, and those who buy leasehold properties.
You might be aware that the Law Commission will be delivering the recommendations made in its report for leasehold over the course of two rounds of consultation and two rounds of legislation, and it is to be hoped this will go a long way to removing onerous terms from leases, as well as grappling with the inflated costs and timescales to secure information which have blighted the sector.
A Commonhold Council has also been set up, given the interest and momentum to move far more towards a commonhold, rather than leasehold, system. And there is also a commitment to create further information, including videos, to lessees and potential buyers of such properties in order to help them with their buying decisions in the future.
Another area which should be of interest to all property stakeholders is the recent launch of updated versions of the LPE1 (Leasehold Property Enquiries), LPE 2 (Consumer summary) and FME1 (Freehold Management Enquiries) forms, which will now go live on January 11 next year.
The Conveyancing Association has been co-ordinating the update of these forms along with other bodies such as the Law Society, CILEX, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers and a number of others, and again the updated information requirements will undoubtedly help provide clarity around the detail expected from Lease Administrators.
All three updated forms now request the UPRN of the property, and the LPE1 form – now on its third iteration - contains a number of new additional questions and amendments, for example, it seeks to establish whether there are any restrictions on keeping pets or parking. The kind of information which an agent is always asked for by a potential purchaser who, quite rightly, wants to know exactly what the restrictions are.
Clearly, it’s also important that the forms address the ongoing cladding issue, because this is again likely to be front and centre on the mind of anyone considering a purchase. The form asks whether a fire safety or an external wall system assessment has been undertaken, and whether there are urgent works required as a result. By knowing this information, we hope that agents (and others) will be able to identify the material facts around cladding more easily when they are marketing the property.
Several lenders have got together with the Fire Industry Association to create a portal where existing EWS1 forms can be accessed, so agents can check before listing properties over 11m which do not have external brick walls and may need an assessment.
Finally, the FME1 form – on its second version – now also contains a number of additional questions including who deals with the deed of covenant, who has to contribute to the service charge, and access to insurance.
All the forms can be downloaded for free and they will also be updated on the legal stationery libraries and provided to the leasehold management systems. As always we will continue to monitor the need for further amendments and improvements to them, taking into account the views of all stakeholders, which have been vital in producing these new iterations.
Beth Rudolf is Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA)