Beleagured leaseholders at Fletcher Court in Colindale, north London, now face their freeholder wanting 44 new flats on top of the building … which has Grenfell ACM cladding, a B2 rating after an EWS1 survey, other building safety issues … and a London Fire Brigade waking watch since December, which leaseholders believe was prompted by the planning notification of the Hallmark Property Group Limited
Hallmark Property Group, the freehold owner of a block of 75 flats with a host of building safety problems is using the government’s controversial permitted development planning give-away to stick 44 new flats – worth around £15 million at pre-cladding prices – on top of the blighted building.
The Leasehold Advisory Service, long corroded by close proximity to the commercial interests in leasehold, tersely notes the passing of the enormously important achievement of the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act.
It did precisely nothing to help it, and much to hinder, over many years.
Here is the chief executive, Anthony Essien, telling MPs of the Communities Select Committee, which raised serious criticisms of the £2 million a year service, that ground rents above 0.1% were onerous.
Freehold investor Israel Moskovitz, a property tribunal habitue, has been urged to stay his hand at The Wharf in Chatham, as Kelly Tolhurst MP says leaseholders should not be made to pay for building safety defects following Michael Gove’s declaration on January 10. The developer Ardmore Limited has said it won’t pay up, according to Mr Moskovitz’s managing agent Y&Y Management. Mr Moskovitz, who here owns the head lease, began his action five days before Mr Gove’s announcement.
James Dalton, of the Association of British Insurers, offered up the leasehold insurance commissions of freeholders and managing agents to help pay for the building safety bills, after MPs raised concerns about excessive price rises as a result of the scandal. Habitually, the ABI is used to a smooth ride in dealings with government, thanks largely to its Insurance Premium Tax contributions
Meanwhile … have insurers ratted out freeholders and the large managing agents by offering up their commissions as a contribution to the building safety crisis?
Leaseholders at Morello Quarter in Basildon – ‘the docklands of Essex’, according to builder Weston Homes – successfully delayed Essex Fire and Rescue Service imposing a £13,000 a week waking watch regime on top of a £200,000 alarm system. Fire and Rescue Services, like freehold owners, have been very generous over fire and safety provision, even if the result is destitution for the leaseholders who do the paying
By Liam Spender
Liam Spender is a trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.
With the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill now law, LKP publishes its response to the government’s consultation on policies that promise to dramatically improve the position of existing leaseholders.
Changes have to follow now that the leasehold sector is deprived of a future. Ground rents are the only legitimate income stream in leasehold: with them banned for future developments, the path to commonhold is clear.
The proposed leasehold changes include …
… a massive liberalisation of the qualifying criteria for the right to manage and collective enfranchisement schemes so that many more leaseholders can take easy control of their service provider, bills and buildings
… a tried and tested mechanism called mandatory leaseback to slash the costs of freehold purchase on mixed-use developments which will turn a theoretical right into reality for many more leaseholders with expensive business premises on site
… toughening up the right to manage regime to ensure freeholders cannot hoard RTM company votes to undermine leaseholder self-rule
… and the tweaking of a new model of shared ownership to ensure the affordable housing scheme can successfully operate within the fairer commonhold setup and protect shared owners from major works bills for the first ten years after purchase
More leaseholders to own their own buildings under government proposals
Government plans to create a fairer system for leaseholders in England and Wales open for consultation today Proposals could make it cheaper and easier for leaseholders to buy the freeholds of their homes Consultation follows reset of government approach to building safety, and forms part of the biggest reforms to property law in a generation Leaseholders could find it easier and cheaper to buy the freehold of their building under radical government proposals to create a fairer housing system..