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The CMA as Protector of Leaseholders of Houses?

 |  July 30, 2021

By: Tola Amodu (Competition Policy Blog)

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently secured formal commitments to tackle the continuing problems experienced by leaseholders of houses. This could be heralded as a turning point in the ongoing debacle regarding the rights of leaseholders – those who while owning a property acquire only a time limited (leasehold) right to it. As the Law Commission explained in its 2020 report on the issue, ‘In England and Wales, properties can either be owned as freehold or as leasehold.

Leasehold is a form of ownership where a person owns a property for a set number of years (typically, 99 or 125 years) on a lease from a landlord, who owns the freehold. Flats are almost always owned on a leasehold basis, but in recent years it has also increasingly been used for newly built houses. It is estimated that there are over 4 million leasehold homes in England alone’. The central problem is that in exchange for acquiring the leasehold interest, the leaseholder typically has to pay ground rent and certain service charges to owner of the freehold. Buyers may not fully understand that ground rents and service charges can increase exponentially over time, or that this can make the subsequent sale of the property economically unviable.

This blog post explores the consequences of the CMA’s intervention and asks whether the commitments do enough to address this problem…