Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Property Law in England and Wales - leasehold reform, consumer protection and the expansion of commonhold

Morning, Thursday, 12th March 2020

Central London

THIS EVENT IS CPD CERTIFIED



This seminar focuses on the reform of property law in England and Wales - including wide-ranging changes to leasehold and commonhold. It comes as the CMA conducts its investigation into the leasehold market and is also timed to follow the Law Commission publishing their policy recommendations into their three areas of consultation: leasehold enfranchisement, right to manage and commonhold


Delegates will discuss the likely impact of these proposals as the Government considers its next steps for reform.


Law Commission and Government reforms


With the Law Commission’s recommendations expected to be published in the first quarter of 2020 on leasehold; commonhold and right to manage, the seminar will present an opportunity to discuss the practical implications for leaseholders and landlords as the Government considers its to the reports.


Leasehold


Delegates will assess policy options for ensuring enfranchisement is made more efficient and cost-effective through potential measures such as:


  • a new, single enfranchisement regime,
  • standardising forms for claims, and
  • removing the “low rent” test and requirements for leasehold ownership.

They will examine implementation plans for the initial policy changes made by government, including cutting ground rents to zero, and outlawing the selling of new houses as leasehold.


We also expect discussion on the findings from the ONS that the number of leasehold houses being bought is declining, in the context of the effect of government’s recent changes, and what the potential impact of further reforms will be on the market.


Freehold and improving information for consumers


Those attending will also discuss potential reforms to freehold aimed at simplification of current legislation to improve take-up, and introduction of a right to manage for residential freeholders.


They will also consider steps to establish a culture change - including improving awareness - that would lead to a growth in commonhold ownership in England and Wales.


We also expect delegates to assess changes in the information given to consumers, including the recent How to lease guide published to inform consumers on their rights, the difference between leasehold and freehold, and help ensure that they aren’t exploited.


There will also be discussion on the impact of Government’s policy of legislating for all new-build houses to be sold as freehold, and reduce ground rents to zero following concerns by consumer groups over unfair leasehold practises such as rising ground rents, high service charges and a lack of transparency over information and costs of their freehold.


Commonhold


Further sessions will look at the expected expansion of the commonhold market following the Law Commission’s policy recommendations, and the Government’s announcement of banning new build long lease houses.


Delegates will assess how commonhold policy can ensure that regulations are enforced, and how the process for forming resident associations and buying out the freeholder can be made more efficient - as well as the potential consequences.


Consumer redress and the Housing court


With publication of the report from the Regulation of Property Agents working group  - which set up by the Government to look at key issues relating to property agents and help develop plans for the introduction of regulation - delegates will assess the recommendations that legislation should regulate landlords, freeholders, developers and right to manage companies. 


Delegates will discuss the potential impact on the sector, as well as issues around transparency of leaseholder and freeholder charges, and the proposed new regulatory powers that would take over from the First-tier Tribunal, including enforcing compliance with the new rules. 


Further sessions look at reform of consumer redress, following the CMA’s investigation into potential mis-selling and exploitation of consumers in the leasehold sector.


Policies including the use of tribunals to settle disputes, and the new ombudsman that will be appointed in order to oversee complaints about new houses will also be assessed - as well as how property developers and freeholders can continue to assist the sector in reducing unfair leasehold agreements following the industry pledge to crack down on legal loopholes and exploitation of consumers.


We also expect discussion of the Government’s consultation on the case for a housing court and the next steps for policymakers.



Keynote Speaker

Professor Nicholas Hopkins

Commissioner, Property, Family and Trust Law, Law Commission

Keynote Speaker

Professor Nicholas Hopkins

Commissioner, Property, Family and Trust Law, Law Commission

Speakers

Sebastian O’Kelly

Chief Executive, Leasehold Knowledge Partnership

Matthew Jupp

Principal, Mortgage Policy, UK Finance

Jonathan Achampong

Partner, Residential Property, Wedlake Bell

Shula Rich

Leasehold Campaigner and RTM Consultant