Co-operative home ownership can become norm through commonhold

Widespread changes to simplify the under-used system of commonhold will be used to kickstart reform of the leasehold system in England and Wales.

The Law Commission, which has been carrying out a consultation into how to improve leasehold, says commonhold would allow flat owners to own their property outright without having to answer to a landlord and removing any risk of them losing that property through a breach of the lease or when the lease runs out.

Too few take up tenure

Commonhold was introduced in 2002 as a type of co-operative ownership similar to what operates in the US and in parts of Europe. To date, fewer than 50 shared property developments – either flats or a combination of flats, townhouses, terraced and semi-detached homes – have been registered as commonhold.

Under leasehold, which applies to around 4.2 million properties in England alone, the property owner only owns the building but not the land on which it stands. They then lease the land from the landlord or freeholder and must renew the lease, which can be expensive and lengthy, plus pay ground rent and maintenance charges.

Public consultation on plans

In commonhold, the property owners come together to form a limited company that owns the land and is responsible for maintaining the shared areas. Each property owner is entitled to make decisions on the building but will own their own place outright.

The Law Commission has now opened a public consultation on how to make commonhold more simple and cheaper to invoke. This will run until March 10 and is open to anyone to make their views known.

At Best Value Conveyancing, you can take your pick from experienced conveyancing solicitors from a panel across England and Wales to deal with your leasehold queries or find out more about converting to commonhold.

Culture change required

Professor Nick Hopkins is the Law Commission commissioner in charge of the leasehold reform consultation.

He said: “Commonhold provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink how we own property in England and Wales and offers homeowners an alternative system to leasehold.

“It involves a culture change, moving away from an ‘us and them’ mindset towards ‘us and ourselves’.

“We want to hear what people think of our proposals so we can be sure the commonhold system will work for homeowners and the wider property sector.”