Law Commission proposes leaseholder law changes

Critics say the current system is too technical, slow, restrictive, expensive and uncertain.

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The Law Commission is proposing changes to make it quicker and easier for leaseholders to take control of the day-to-day management of their building.

Currently, homeowners with long leases over flats can acquire the ‘Right To Manage’ (RTM), which gives the homeowners, rather than their landlord, responsibility for management functions relating to services, repairs, maintenance and insurance. It is a ‘no-fault’ right, so leaseholders can exercise it without having to prove mismanagement by their landlord.

However, the current system is seen by many as too technical, slow, restrictive, uncertain and expensive.

In response to these criticisms, the Law Commission will be consulting on proposals to make the process more accessible, simpler, quicker and less uncertain.

The proposals include:

  • Extending the qualifying criteria so that leasehold houses, not just flats, qualify for the RTM
  • Permitting multi-block RTM on estates and removing the 25% commercial space restriction
  • Reducing the number of notices that leaseholders must serve as part of the claim process
  • Introducing deadlines for procedures and exchanges of information between the landlord and RTM company

Stephen Lewis, Commercial and Common Law Commissioner, commented: “The Right To Manage process is not working at the moment and change is needed.

“This is a very practical project and we’ve been focused on developing proposals that make sure the Right To Manage is more user-friendly, particularly for leaseholders.

“We look forward to hearing how the public thinks we can make the process as effective as possible.”

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP added: “This government is determined to reform the leasehold sector to better support homeowners. This includes making it easier for those who wish to exercise their Right To Manage and take direct control of their block.

“I welcome the Law Commission’s consultation proposals and encourage all those with an interest to come forward and offer their views.”

Welsh Government Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James, said: “Right To Manage has not been widely adopted in Wales, and we have heard anecdotal evidence that the procedures are difficult and allow freeholders to obstruct the wishes of leaseholders attempting to exercise the right.

“We want to make it easier for leaseholders to take ownership of managing their property, and we welcome the Law Commission’s proposals to reform the process.”

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