MHCLG admits absence of key leasehold data

Response to written Commons question confirms no data held on opportunities to buy property freehold at point of purchase.

For sale signs for flats and houses

MHCLG has no data on the number of house buyers who were interested in – or were offered – the opportunity to buy the freehold of their property at the point of purchase, it has been revealed.

In response to a written parliamentary question, MHCLG minister Heather Wheeler confirmed the lack of such data and instead referenced the government as working with the Law Commission on making it “easier, faster, and cheaper” for leaseholders to purchase their freehold.

This was a generic response from Wheeler to two leasehold-related questions raised by Labour’s Ruth George, who wanted answers on:

  • The number of house buyers subject to the sale of their freehold before they had bought their homes
  • How buyers who expressed an intention to purchase their freeholds to the developer pre-contract will receive their freeholds for no cost through redress with the developer

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating the extent of any mis-selling of leasehold properties, using its consumer protection powers, and will consider whether to bring forward enforcement proceedings.

Earlier this month, Labour went public with plans to consign “feudal” leasehold to history, with a policy pitch saying leaseholders should be able to buy a freehold for 1% of the property value.

At Housing 2019, then Communities Secretary James Brokenshire outlined government measures to tackle “unfair” leaseholds – effectively returning to original plans to reduce ground rents on future leases to zero.

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