I am not about to agree or disagree with the concept of leasehold houses and it's fair to say everything has its place. However, I don't think there is anyone who would believe it is right for people to feel unhappy with their home.
This isn't a new thing though. Leasehold as a tenure has been around since the middle ages, although I'm pretty sure the laws have been updated several times since then. With the imminent release of the government's white paper will we see more radical changes affecting the property industry?
On Wednesday (1st February) I attended the excellent Lease Conference. Some of the big discussion points revolved around leasehold houses and doubling ground rents. The thing that struck me through all of this is these things are with us and without reform they will be for some time. So we have to deal with them. Information is king. Transparency has to be a priority. When selling properties agents must make people aware of any obligation falling to the prospective purchaser and I don't think they all do right now. Equally conveyancers should ensure their clients have read and understood what they are signing up to and again I don't think they all are. As a former estate agent who now works for a firm of solicitors I think I'm fairly well placed to say that. As an estate agent I was never educated in the ways of leasehold so how could I possibly pass on any knowledge. Now, at Brethertons, our conveyancing team regularly see other firms quoting woefully low prices for carrying out work on leasehold purchases. It amazes me that people entrust such a large purchase, with highly complex documentation, to an organisation that charges rock bottom prices. Can they be certain of that company's complete attention?
So until we see major reform, as property professionals we need to ensure we are acting in our respective clients' best interests. We need to make sure we are bringing everything to their attention, even if that means risking a deal. As for prospective clients I would urge everyone to ask lots of questions. Be certain of what you are buying. Don't undersell yourself with cheap conveyancing. Make sure you use professionals with a good pedigree who have experience in such matters. If you've already purchased a leasehold house did you know you might be able to purchase your freehold? At Brethertons we handle many cases of people buying their freehold and are happy to advise anyone. www.brethertons.co.uk
When putting pen to paper to buy a new home, most people expect to know how much they will need to pay to own it outright. But thousands of families in England and Wales are discovering the new-build houses they bought are not all they seemed.