Time to Consign Freeholders to History
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The custom of Freeholders and Leaseholders has endured since the writing of the Doomsday Book, back in the 11th century.
The practice entailed the rental of land by local lords to their serfs and gave these Lords complete control over the everyday lives of the people who served them. The required rent, conditions, punishment and eviction were purely at their fancy. Obviously, abuses of power occurred but the world was a harder place then.
So why is it that in the modern UK, the practice still not only persists but thrives under the mismanagement of the unscrupulous?
It would be unfair to label every freeholder crooked, but there are too many who continually abuse the system, defraud their tenants with false claim of work never begun and strong arm those tenants to part with their hard-earned cash for the most trivial or obscure reasons.
At the end of 2013, the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership published that there were 5.37 million leasehold properties in England and Wales end of 2013. Add to that the recent revelation that new build homes, sold by developers as leasehold, went hand in hand with undeclared clauses that could double the ground rent every ten years. What that creates is a ready-made market for the creation of “money–for-nothing”.
I will restate that not all Freeholders take advantage of their tenants. And although it is true that good freeholders generate no news, this tradition promotes abuses of power because it always has. The difference is that now the people they take advantage of can be the most vulnerable of us – First time buyers. When the price they pay can be anything from rocketing costs to eventually losing their homes.
I am also a victim of the abuses of the Freehold. Over the last ten years, despite having already successfully taken my Freeholder to a tribunal, we are continually subject to vastly inflated service charges that come without proof of any works completed, the stifling of remortgage attempts unless we pay him what he believes we owe him and the refusal to provide breakdown charges and receipts that is legally required by law.
In short, whether it’s the habit of selling super-expanding ground rents or treating the responsibility of freeholder as a money-making exercise, the custom of Freehold and Leasehold is an antiquity which is easily and often maltreated. From being coerced into paying sums of cash in order to sell or modify the property to being threatened with legal action for questioning fictitious services charges – I ask for the support of anyone who can tell injustice to support this petition and for the Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, to table a motion to consign this practice to where it belongs – History.
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