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Now is a critical time for us to make our voice heard and hammer home our message STOP THE ROT! ADOPT THE LOT!

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill is passing through the commons committee stage right now. The bill contains a section which may inadequately regulate estate charges but does not tackle the root cause – lack of adoption. The CMA have already identified lack of adoption as the major underlying problem and report this in their November 2023 working paper.

We don’t usually do email templates but have decided to offer you some suggested wording this time. Copy and paste into your email program and adapt for your circumstances. Thanks from all the rest of us victims of fleecehold!

Re the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill

Dear *MPs name *

I am writing to you about the small part of this bill which deals with estate charges. I am an estate resident subject to these charges in your constituency.

The government proposes to modify section 121 of the Law Of Property Act so that homes subject to a rent charge cannot be repossessed for non payment of the estate rent charge. This is welcome as mortgage lenders have been increasingly reluctant to lend without a deed of variation to remove this remedy. The managing agent/rent charge owner is not obliged to provide one and sales are falling through on this point alone.

The other measures proposed include access to a tribunal to challenge fees and various standards for managing agents are also laid down. It is not clear how these latter will be enforced. I am aware that the tribunal system does not appear to be effective in controlling spiralling leasehold service charges, so I do not have any confidence that it will help control excessive estate charges.

I do not feel that the proposed measures are sufficient to create the fairness the government has promised and would ask you to support any amendment which calls for adoption of public areas. The CMA have already found in their market study investigation that lack of adoption is the underlying cause of the detriment to estate residents. Their interim working paper from November 3rd 2023 can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/654396f69e05fd000dbe7bed/Private_management_of_public_amenities_on_housing_estates_PDFA.pdf. They are due to finalise their study at the end of February 2024.

My development, like the majority of new developments subject to these charges, is not exclusive, private or gated and has public space and amenities which the residents alone pay to maintain. This fundamentally unfair situation can only be remedied by adoption.

If adoption were universal, there would be very little need for the governments proposals – perhaps just for the small number of truly private gated estates.

The governments proposals will not in my opinion, restore the value of my home or help with it’s saleability now that there is so much more awareness of the true liability of estate charges. When I bought, the full liability was not explained to me and was little known, but buyers are now beginning to walk away from homes with estate charges. We will soon have a two tier system – homes with and homes without estate charges.

Once estate residents realise that they are paying to clear up after the general public who use their open spaces and play parks, considerable resentment builds up, which damages community relationships within the local area.

Perhaps the most iniquitous facet of the lack of adoption is the lower construction quality standards which ultimately lead to high maintenance costs and/or blight. The technical standards for adoption are not applied if the estate is to be managed privately. There are lower standards set in the 106 agreements, but they are not often monitored or enforced.

In conclusion, whilst the governments proposals may help residents on truly private estates, they are not tackling the growing problem of unadopted public areas on new build estates. There is a risk of legitimising a model which is fundamentally unfair, financially disadvantages estate dwellers and allows poor quality estate infrastructure to be delivered.

I respectfully urge you please to support any initiative which will lead to full adoption for all publicly accessible residential or mixed estates.

*Signed as you wish*

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