There has never been a time like we are currently seeing for leasehold. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are undertaking a huge amount of work to seek to improve leasehold in all areas and directions. We have already had the consultation on ground rents and the responses flooded into DCLG. The team now have the hard work of reading all responses and collating the information and deciding what to do.
You should be aware that while that is ongoing the Department has launched a call for evidence in relation to the regulation of managing and letting agents along with a separate call for evidence on buying a house or flat.
You should all take part in both calls for evidence. The more responses that are received the better. It is incumbent on us all to make sure that we play our part in improvements and changes to leasehold matters. As with any negotiation or community activity there will be compromise. What the Ministers propose may please some but will it please all?
I am reminded of a working party that was set up near the end of the last Labour Government in 2009 to look at regulation of block managers. There was a working party pulled together and it seemed regulation would be achieved. Something I have always called for. At the first meeting one of the more extraordinary conversations ensued. Everyone around the table agreed regulation was needed. The Civil Servants then stated that they had been unable to find anyone who thought regulation was a bad idea or was against it. Therefore how can they be sure they would get a balanced outcome!!!!! The fact everyone thought it a good idea would be a clue that it was needed. I sincerely hope that with the headwind that exists in looking at leasehold and the momentum to make sure there is fairness and equity that we will see regulation.
I have one concern in the call for evidence regarding the mixing of flat managers and block managers roles. I think the roles are easily defined. The division is the flat door. Outside the door is block management and inside the door is flat management. The skillsets are very different and the training courses distinct. There is a need for the delivery of a cross over manager with the development of multifamily schemes. That is to say the blocks built for renting and owned by institutions and investment companies. The Institute for Residential Property Managers have developed a course for this burgeoning sector.
If you do not reply to the calls for evidence and you don’t see changes you think should happen then you only have yourself to blame. It is vital that you all use your knowledge and experience to inform DCLG on their calls and any other consultations coming out. Let us look forward to the changes and a better way with leasehold.
Roger Southam, Non Exec Chair at the Leasehold Advisory Service