LEASEHOLDS: Let’s see firm action

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House buyers and homeowners in Ashington, and many other parts of the region, are caught in a leaseholders’ property trap, losing value on their property and finding it increasing difficult to sell their homes.

This issue effects many individuals whom have purchased new-build properties over several decades. People have found that after years of paying to purchase their property, they are no more than tenants.

The trap for unsuspecting buyers comes in the form of developers selling freeholds to private companies, increasing profits and permitting the companies to apply ground rents.

The companies can then charge homeowners extortionate prices to purchase or renew their lease, sometimes almost a quarter of the house value, rendering the property extremely difficult to sell and almost worthless.

If the homeowner cannot afford the cost of a new a lease, the house can be repossessed.

This practice is morally reprehensible and cannot be defended in any civil society.

According to official government statistics, around 6,000 new homes were sold as leasehold in 2015.

The then housing minister Sajid Javid announced in 2017 that the government was seeking to ban leasehold on nearly all new-build housing (why only nearly all?), and make it significantly cheaper for those existing homeowners to purchase the freehold on their property.

When we are constantly being informed by politicians of all persuasions that there is a housing crisis in the UK, how and why have successive governments allowed this feudal system to continue?

Now let us see some firm action from the government on this issue, not superficial platitudes, and let us see our regional Labour politicians pressing the matter in parliament.

Barry Thorburn

Ashington