November figures on the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and Campaign against Residential Leasehold Exploitation websites show a surge in leaseholder readership, with more than 108,000 page views. The figures confirm widespread interest in leasehold and in measures to reform its many abuses.
Visitors to the sites amount to nearly 23,000 – a figure that rebuts advice from the (three) officials in the Department of Local Government and Communities who have repeatedly told ministers that they were unaware of widespread dissatisfaction among leaseholders.
Ministers are at last taking note of this issue, which has undermined confidence in the leasehold housing market. Few big central London developments built in the last ten years have not rebelled against the managing agent appointed by the housebuilder. Some developers – Berkeley, Barratt, McCarthy and Stone – have realised the reputational risks of simply selling off freeholds or management contracts to the highest bidders.
The retirement leasehold market is virtually static and has proved to be a disastrous residential property investment. The consequence is a further brake on the housing market as older homeowners decline to sell their blameless freehold family houses – the value of which has stood up very well – and downsize.
(Website “hits” stand at 223,00, but these are unreliable as every time a “hit” is recorded by the calling up of a post it includes the post’s url and all the urls of any graphics and pictures. So a post with four pictures is counted as five hits etc.)