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Leasehold is a form of financial servitude – it must end in 2022

The problem of widespread misery and wealth erosion will never go away unless leaseholders gain control over their service charges and buildings, writes Rabina Khan

Saturday 25 December 2021 15:47 GMT
Outdated leasehold leaves owners merely tenants in their homes
Outdated leasehold leaves owners merely tenants in their homes (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Hundreds of thousands of people buy their homes in good faith, only to find that they are death traps or money pits. Leasehold is a form of financial servitude where the homeowner is a mere tenant, forever compensating the freeholder for living on “their” land. The cladding and building-safety crisis is just the latest chapter in our nation’s shameful leasehold history.

Leaseholders are being extorted left, right and centre. In my London borough, the managing agent of one high-rise block with a small amount of Grenfell-style cladding on its roof presided over work that was quoted for but costs mushroomed, reportedly including thousands of pounds in commission fees.

Despite a new housing secretary – the self-styled Tory radical Michael Gove – promising parliament a pro-consumer approach to tackling the cladding and building-safety crisis, hundreds of thousands of leasehold tenants face another Christmas in unsafe and unsellable homes as they confront spiralling service charges and extortionate “waking watch” wardens roaming their blocks 24/7.

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