Letter: Modern Rachmans still prosper on the poor

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The Independent Online
Sir: Thank you for your interesting, if grim, feature ('Life in a house of horrors', 16 July) highlighting the present-day struggle between leaseholders and their landlords.

The article graphically illustrated the difficulties faced by many people buying leasehold property today. The examples quoted were of mainly young, single, working owners. However, the effects can perhaps be even more severe for the elderly on small fixed incomes.

For several years I have regularly had to witness the deep distress caused to my own mother-in-law. She is a pensioner retired from an ancillary post in the NHS. With her modest savings she purchased a leasehold flat which she regarded as her own for the remainder of her days.

Sadly, the lease was bought out by a large property company and she has been subjected to many of the problems related in your account. Like the leaseholders you interviewed, she feels exploited, trapped and threatened, with little prospect of help or any way out.

Clearly, the spirit of Peter Rachman is alive and well and embodied in current leasehold legislation. In 1963 Harold Wilson was instrumental in pressing for the inquiry that eventually prevented unscrupulous landlords using terror to force people from their homes.

Will the present Labour Party now take up the challenge to expunge this menace from our society?

Yours sincerely,




21 July