Is the leasehold scandal sowing fear and confusion?

/ Agents, Blocks of flats, Freeholders, Leaseholders, News

Anyone looking at social media threads about leasehold home ownership may have noticed that there appears to be a lot of confusion and worry among the 4 million leaseholders in England and Wales about what they have bought and what their rights and obligations are.

It’s not surprising when leasehold has been in the news so much recently, particularly with regards escalating grounds rent clauses written into some leases for houses. The government responded to public outcry with a consultation on how to tackle unfair practices in leasehold.

The Law Commission has now been tasked by government to improve “consumer choice, and with providing greater fairness and transparency for leaseholders”.

On 18 April, it published its terms of reference for a project expected to last some “2 ½ years in the first instance”.

The nations’ leaseholders are probably not holding their breath, but they are also likely to be anxious for clarification – having become more aware of the questionable practices some leaseholders suffer. After all, any new laws are unlikely to make an immediate difference to their situation.

Meanwhile The Communities Minister has also promised action on rogue managing and letting agents. It can all add up to an air of uncertainty.

There is help available for those who want to find out more. The government funds a free advice service for leaseholders at  www.lease-advice.org, but if all you need for now is a reminder of what leasehold entails, you could do worse than to check a blog written in plain English by Bournemouth solicitors Coles Miller for specialist leasehold block of flats insurers Deacon.

Mark Savage, Client Service Manager at Deacon, said:  “Anyone active in the leasehold property management sector can sense a groundswell of discontent in the air from some leaseholders who feel they have been treated unfairly, and we welcome the government now taking action.

“Nevertheless, it is still our experience that the majority of the leasehold flat owners we work with have little to worry about. They live in amicable circumstances in well maintained and managed blocks and should not be unnecessarily alarmed,” he added.

Deacon is part of Gallagher. Gallagher is the brand name of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG),  a global insurance broker, risk management services and consulting firm, with headquarters in Illinois, USA, and operations in 34 countries.  In the UK, Gallagher employs more than 4,500 people, specialising in risk management and insurance solutions for individuals, small businesses and international conglomerates.  Deacon is one of 11 brokers in Gallagher’s UK Small Business & Personal Lines division, which provides a range of insurance products for individuals and businesses across the UK.

Editor’s notes:

Deacon is aware that for leasehold flat owners the buildings insurance is often the biggest single item on their annual service charge bill.  Deacon’s blogs cover many of the queries that arise most often (see below) but if you need more background on specific insurance issues, please contact us at info@deacon.co.uk

  • Why you must pay for a share of the building insurance?
  • What is and isn’t covered by the insurance the freeholder arranges?
  • Why does the ground floor flat have to contribute to roof repairs?
  • Why do even flats in leafy suburbs need terrorism cover?
  • How can volunteer resident management company directors be protected from the consequences of making genuine errors?
  • Who pays when the flat upstairs has a flood that damages the flat below?
  • What’s the difference between a residents’ association, a right to manage company and a residents’ management company – and who has authority to choose the insurer?

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The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only.  The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information. The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Deacon accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.