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Conveyancing Association welcomes Residential Leasehold focus in Law Commission’s 13th Programme of Law Reform

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today welcomed the news that the Law Commission has included a project on Residential Leasehold and Commonhold, and Unfair Lease Terms, within its forthcoming 13th Programme of Law Reform.

The CA has repeatedly called for, and worked towards, reform of the Leasehold sector and it has independently – and as part of the Legal Sector Group – presented evidence to the Law Commission, Government and other stakeholders on the areas it believes should be covered. One of its proposals is the replacement of Leasehold with Commonhold – where unit holders have a freehold interest in the property.

The CA has been told that the Leasehold project will ‘commence with a review of leasehold enfranchisement, Commonhold, and managing agent regulation’ – all key areas that the Association want reviewed and in September formed a major part of its response to the DCLG’s ‘Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market’ consultation.

It also covered leasehold, and the changes it wants to see made, as part of its recent response to the DCLG’s ‘Call for Evidence’ on ‘Improving the home buying and selling process’. Its full response can be read by visiting:

The Law Commission announced its full range of 13th Programme projects last week, and out of the 70 projects that made it through the first sift, its Commissioners have now chosen 14 to take forward. These are:

  • A Modern Framework for Disposing of the Dead.
  • Administrative Review.
  • Automated Vehicles.
  • Electronic Signatures.
  • Employment Law Hearing Structures.
  • Intermediated Securities.
  • Modernising Trust Law for a Global Britain.
  • Museum Collections.
  • Registered Land and Chancel Repair Liability.
  • Residential Leasehold.
  • Simplifying the Immigration Rules.
  • Smart Contracts.
  • Surrogacy
  • Unfair Terms in Residential Leasehold.

The Law Commission assesses each proposal against the following selection criteria:

(1)  Importance: the extent to which the law is unsatisfactory (for example, unfair, unduly complex, inaccessible or outdated), and the potential benefits of reform.

(2)  Suitability: whether the independent, non-political Commission is the most suitable body to conduct the project.

(3)  Resources: whether the necessary resources, including project-specific funding, are available to enable the project to be carried out effectively.

Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of The Conveyancing Association, commented:

“It is very pleasing to see that a number of key project suggestions from the CA, and other stakeholders, have made it into the Commission’s 13th Programme of Law Reform. Clearly, as a political and industry hot potato in 2017, reform of leasehold is one area which we believe is ripe for swift action and, over a number of recent consultation responses, we have spelled out the measures which, in our opinion, need implementing.

“Replacing leasehold, where possible, with Commonhold is a key measure for us and we believe could solve many of the problems raised, specifically with the increase in new-build leasehold houses such as escalating ground rents, the sale of the freehold in order to make a substantial profit, and the rise in fees and premiums to leaseholders in order to allow them to, for example, extend leases and make alterations to the property.

“We’re also pleased to see a number of other projects within the 13th Programme, particularly Registered Land and Chancel Repair liability and electronic signatures, making the cut. We believe reform in these areas will provide a much fairer, transparent home buying process providing a great deal more certainty for all concerned, and by encouraging, for example, greater use of digital signatures we will be utilising the technology available in order to secure a 21st Century conveyancing service.

“The CA is looking forward to engaging with the Commission and working together with it to enable the required changes to be implemented as soon as possible.”

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