King Charles III on the 7th of November 2023 delivered his first speech in parliament. This made it the first King’s speech in over 70 years. Setting out the Government’s legislative agenda, King Charles III confirmed changes to the law relating to leasehold property:

My Ministers will bring forward a bill to reform the housing market by making it cheaper and easier for leaseholders to purchase their freehold and tackling the exploitation of millions of homeowners through punitive service charges.

The general intention is to strengthen the rights of leaseholders and the following objectives were confirmed. This decisive action will address one of the longest-term challenges that the country faces. This being fairness in the housing market. This reform bill will put the country on the right path for the future, allowing homeowners a fairer deal.

What does the Bill mean?

  • It will be cheaper and easier for leaseholders extend their leases or buy the freehold to their properties.
  • The statutory lease extension length will be increased from the current 90 years to 999 years. This means that in effect leases will only need to be extended once.
  • The current requirement for a leaseholder to have owned their flat for two years before commencing their formal claim for a lease extension will be abolished.
  • Leaseholders will be given greater rights to challenge poor practice from freeholders and managing agents. For example there will be greater transparency over fees charged and insurance commissions paid to freeholders and not passed on to leaseholders.
  • There will also be a maximum time frame and set fee for freeholders to obtain information required to sell a leasehold flat – this should address a common frustration in the sale of flats.
  • Finally one of the things the bill will do is ban the creation of new leasehold houses. This will mean every new house in England and Wales will be freehold from the outset except in exceptional circumstances.

As ever, the devil will be in the detail but if these proposed changes are effectively implemented they should go some way to addressing longstanding concerns and frustrations associated with leasehold ownership.

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Photo Credit: Sam Baker Photography. Photo of King Charles visiting Colchester.