Leasehold campaigners in Ellesmere Port have been praised by the town’s MP after a Government decision to crack down on the controversial issue.
Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders (Lab) has welcomed new Government proposals on leasehold housing, but has warned that ‘the devil is in the detail’.
Mr Madders is now seeking a meeting with the housing minister to put pressure on him to act ‘with urgency’.
The MP explains the Government has confirmed it will go ahead with a ban on new leasehold houses following a public consultation.
It is to force developers to cut controversial ground rents to zero for all new apartments and houses.
In a move which is said to appear to be ‘strongly influenced’ by the MP’s recent Private Members Bill, the Department for Communities and Local Government has said it will be ‘working with the Law Commission to make the process of purchasing a freehold or extending a lease much easier, faster and cheaper’.
The Government will also write to all developers that have sold homes with ‘onerous ground rent terms’ to ask them to provide ‘necessary redress’.
In response to so-called ‘fleecehold’ properties, where a developer sells the leasehold of the property back to the homeowner but retains clauses allowing them to charge large sums of money, the Government plans to make sure that freeholders have equivalent rights to leaseholders to challenge unfair service charges.
Mr Madders said: “It is a significant step forward that the Government appear to be listening to the thousands of leasehold campaigners who have demanded that changes are made to our deeply unfair housing market.
“But of course the devil is in the detail as to whether all of the injustices being experienced by current leaseholders will be resolved and I look forward to pressing the Secretary of State to provide some details.
“It is particularly pleasing to see that the Government have taken on board the suggestions that I recently made in my Leasehold Reform Bill about changing the mechanism by which freeholds can be purchased.
“There is still a risk though that the Government could kick this element into the long grass leaving thousands of people still trapped in unsellable homes.
“Urgent action is needed now for those with doubling ground rents and unfair fees and charges in their existing leases. I will be seeking a meeting with the housing minister to set out in detail the straightforward process for purchasing the freehold that I have proposed.”
He added: “We would never have reached this stage without a huge amount of hard work by the National Leasehold Campaign, the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and the All Party Parliamentary Group and I pay tribute everyone involved.
“In particular I have to single our Katie Kendrick from Ellesmere Port who has been absolutely tireless in her efforts and has represented thousands of leaseholders from all around the country. She should be incredibly proud of what she has achieved so far.”
Mr Madders, who has been backing campaigners, concluded: “From the very beginning I described this as the PPI of the house building industry and the developers and freeholders should know that we will not rest until a fair resolution has been reached.”