Conveyancing industry calls for residential leasehold change

he conveyancing industry is calling for the residential leasehold process in the UK to be changed in 2017 to end unacceptable delays, extortionate ground rents and high fees.

The Conveyancing Association says that there is also a lack of knowledge among buyers about leaseholds with recent research showing that 57% of those buying a leasehold property regretted doing so.

The issue has been brought to the attention at Government level and in a debate in the House of Commons as the end of last year Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said he was not happy with the current situation.

The CA is gathering evidence of bad practice. One recent example from My Home Move, one of the largest conveyancers in the UK, saw a 20 calendar day delay on leasehold sales and 14 days on leasehold purchases, measured across a sample of 4,000 freehold and leasehold cases. This is consistent with the level of delays reported by all CA member firms for leasehold work.

Common reasons for extra delay in the leasehold process include identifying the Lease Administrator as there is no register of firms, establishing the fee they require to complete the Leasehold Property Enquiries Form and obtaining the fee from the seller.

Delays are also found in receiving the information back from the Lease Administrator, waiting for the Lease Administrator to register the leasehold property and many other issues.

‘Much of the focus has been on escalating ground rents on new build properties and whilst an important issue to confront, we will be seeking to ensure that all other leasehold problems such as the unreasonable fees routinely charged by some lease administrators, and the delays inherent within the process, are also addressed,’ said Beth Rudolf, CA director of delivery.

‘The progress that we have all made in the last 12 months should now be translated into action and delivery. We will continue to focus heavily in this area and, with the support of our members and others, will be looking to support all moves for the changes that are required,’ she added.

As part of its recently published White Paper, the CA put forward a number of suggestions around cutting down the length of time the leasehold process takes and ensuring fairer fee levels charged by lease administrators.

Following its annual conference in December, the association will shortly publish a list of action points it will pursue in 2017, in conjunction with other stakeholders. It will also be meeting with those industry organisations in order to set out the plans it will pursue with regard to leasehold in 2017.