There are approximately four hundred thousand leaseholders in Wales, and many of them are on their knees due to the leasehold system – suffering greatly due to cladding issues, safety issues, excessive management costs, onerous leasehold conditions or being unable to move home. This shames Wales in the 21st century. The structure of leasehold is the legacy of a feudal system and a great injustice. Leasehold in Wales must be abolished in favour of Commonhold as it has been in Scotland and Ireland.
The failure to make meaningful progress on abolishing leasehold shames the government and Welsh Assembly. Resolving leasehold and fleecehold (freehold with fees) issues would make a positive lasting impact for hundreds of thousands of residents in Wales.
There are at least 30 bodies and regulatory agencies with an interest in the property sector. Some are effectively powerless, others benefitting from confusion of overlapping responsibilities. It is a huge mess which has built up over many years, so it is no wonder many home buyers and leaseholders have problems. Thousands of stories and comments have been posted to support groups in the last few years, many of which reveal great financial and mental distress due to bankruptcy, forfeiture of their property or worse.
The property sector lobby for little change or a mild polish to the system and consists of the financial sector, housing associations, big developers, big freeholders and ground rent funds, as well as some parts of the legal and surveying professions. Many of the freeholders are registered in tax havens and keep money earned from leaseholders in offshore accounts so don’t pay any UK tax. This side have huge wealth, power and influence compared with the leaseholders. Recently the government indicated that it is more concerned with helping the property lobby, by relaxing building regulations, not the needs and concerns of the leaseholders or the generqal public.
If little or nothing is done, we will see further distress for leaseholders and hundreds of thousands of unsellable leasehold properties. Society and the wider economy cannot afford the financial exploitation caused by the leasehold system.
The Welsh Assembly needs to honour their promises and take prompt action to sort leasehold injustices once and for all by setting a date for Commonhold adoption.