LKP met shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds yesterday to discuss problems in the leasehold sector.
The meeting was organised by Jim Fitzpatrick, the Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, who has some of the richest and poorest leaseholders in the country in his constituency. He has become a firm stalwart in fighting for leaseholders.
Reynolds, 36, is a Labour high-flier representing Wolverhampton North West, who once worked as a lobbyist in Brussels. She took over as shadow housing minister from Jack Dromey in the autumn.
LKP found her sharp and curious … with commendable BS antennae when it came to special pleading by the commercially interested.
Coincidentally, she earlier met McCarthy and Stone, which is one of the promoters of the ill-conceived Campaign for Housing in Later Life.
This campaign, backed by the Home Builders’ Federation, has so far lost two of its sponsors since the Campaign against Residential Leasehold Exploitation began inquiries: Shelter quit last week, and Peverel was dumped last Friday owing to the Cirrus collusive tendering scandal.
Esther Rantzen, who is fronting the campaign and was contacted by us, has asked for and received, an explanation from LKP why it is critical of the retirement housing sector.
LKP gave Reynolds its view of the leasehold sector and its well attested flaws.
Labour politicians are quick to see in leasehold an echo of historic landlordism, and note that it has long since been removed from ALL other English-speaking jurisdictions. Indeed, it does not exist anywhere else.
Several individual cases of leasehold system-playing were discussed. Some of these are on the websites
Reynolds was frank that her priority is to increase housing supply, which is what all political parties are seeking to do.
That is quite understandably the overriding priority. But Reynolds was not deaf to the issues of leasehold, which affect young and old homeowners, as well as rich and poor.
It is the middle living in the shires who are least affected by leasehold.
The Campaign for Housing in Later Life – and house building generally – urges quicker and less onerous planning decisions.
LKP well understands the frustrations of planning for house builders, although these are by no means unique to retirement house builders.
Sebastian O’Kelly has publicly written in support of strategic planning and was a lone voice at the Daily Mail group writing in support of John Prescott.
He has argued the case for urgent strategic planning in the South East, and said that housing must be built on – some of – the green belt.
“But planning is not the main problem in retirement housing; confidence is.
“Every week the Campaign against Residential Leasehold Exploitation is contacted by would-be buyers or their families asking about retirement housing decisions.
“They are desperate for housing of this type, but are not willing to pay over the odds for an asset that immediately plummets in value and be prey to predatory property management.
“All the main commercial house builders (and housing association builders) own the freeholds and manage their own sites.
“At present, complaints to the Campaign against Residential Leasehold Exploitation about their management are few. But they might become predatory, or the freeholds – a cherry on the cake for developers – may be flogged off to aggressive monetisers.
“Yes, residents should be offered the freehold to buy, but that is routinely worked around by developers of all types.”
The retirement house builders claim LKP exaggerates and is out of date.
But it is not us who are running a campaign where the sponsorship logos are falling off like lose tiles.