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Labour to force vote on ending ‘feudal’ leasehold system

Labour will force a vote on ending leaseholds, describing the watering down of the Government’s pledge to abolish the system as a “scandal”.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove last week appeared to confirm reports he was dropping plans to dismantle the leasehold system.

He had previously promised to introduce legislation to “fundamentally reform” the system, which he had criticised as “feudal”.

The form of home ownership gives the householder the right to live in a property for a fixed number of years. But there have been mounting concerns about practices in the sector, including over the levying of hefty charges and a lack of transparency.

The Guardian recently reported that getting rid of leasehold will not form part of a series of reforms due to be announced by Mr Gove in the coming weeks, after Downing Street argued there was not enough time before the next general election – due by January 2025 – to carry out the plans.

Asked about this at a conference in Westminster last week, the senior Tory suggested that legislation being put forward soon would tackle the “many abuses” arising from leasehold rather than eradicate it altogether.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove
Housing Secretary Michael Gove (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Labour will on Tuesday bring forward a vote on a motion that would call on Mr Gove to keep his promise “by ending the sale of new private leasehold houses, introducing a workable system to replace private leasehold flats with commonhold and enacting the Law Commission’s recommendations on enfranchisement, commonhold and the right to manage in full”.

Shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy said: “It is nothing short of a scandal that despite near-universal agreement that leasehold is a feudal form of tenure that should be a thing of the past, there is still no timetable for ending leasehold on new builds and introducing a workable system of commonhold to replace existing leasehold homes.

“We cannot have more delays or broken promises because of rows within government.

“Today MPs from all parties can join Labour in voting to end the leasehold system, implement the Law Commission’s recommendations in full, and deliver long-overdue justice to millions of families.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We will bring forward leasehold reforms later in this Parliament, in line with our manifesto commitment.

“As the Secretary of State has made clear in the House many times, we remain determined in our promise to better protect and empower leaseholders to challenge unreasonable costs and make it easier and cheaper for them to extend their lease or buy their freehold.

“These build on the significant improvements we have already made to the market – including ending ground rents for most new residential leases.”