Thank you to our supporter who wrote and asked us what we are up to! A timely reminder for an update.
We continue to take every chance we can to raise the profile of the issues which affect us with our politicians, but it hasn’t been easy over the summer parliamentary recess and then the Brexit prorogation. Like much of the domestic agenda, our problems are not getting enough attention. The second reading of Helen Goodman’s bill on Freehold Estate Charges has been postponed, possibly indefinitely, along with Justin Madders bill on leasehold. The new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, is known to have supported fleeceholders in his constituency previously, but we haven’t heard a peep. We do also wonder how long the current set up will last in any event, and we get yet another different minister.
It is not all bad news, and we have been active in drawing attention to our plight at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
If you have followed the campaign you will know that we submitted evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Leasehold reform both as a group and many individual reports (thank you!). The evidence was accepted, but we still have not been able to get the message across that estate charges are not just an issue for freehold homes, and that there are detriments to the quality of estate construction and maintenance as well as to the home buyers of any tenure. There is also a lack of understanding that estate charges are not technically service charges and even leaseholders do not have their normal rights, such as challenge in the First tier Tribunal, Right to Manage and enfranchisement. We continue to work on this….
Following the select committee enquiry, the CMA most reluctantly agreed to look into leasehold mi-selling. This is a very limited piece of work and although many of us submitted evidence to them of mis-selling and anticompetitive behaviour, they declined to make it part of the current enquiry. That is the bad news – the good news is that one of our co-ordinators had just received a letter via her MP from Andrew Tyrie, CMA chairman, indicating that he knows there are issues and, depending on the outcome of the leasehold enquiry, there may be a further one on “Fleecehold”. We are cautiously optimistic and will shortly be asking our supporters to resubmit their stories using the CMA’s general reporting process and will encourage anyone who hasn’t already written to do so. Full details for this campaign will me published soon.
In summary, as well as our continual work enabling our supporters to share information and sometimes advice, dealing with press enquiries and replying to email contacts, our current focus is on trying to persuade the CMA there is enough wrong with the private estate scam for them to take it on. If they don’t, then we may be able to appeal to their tribunal.
Thank you to everyone who has participated in reporting or raising the profile of the issues in many other ways. We can do this when we work together!!