Seema Malhotra MP Calls for a “new-deal” for Leaseholders

London ||

Even though Labour conference has just ended in Liverpool and a general election could potentially be years away Seema Malhotra MP is wanting a change in the law to protect leaseholders.

Malhotra is calling for a “new-deal” for leaseholders and a change in the legislation to ensure that annual service costs are being correctly issued, made transparent and available. She is also looking at tightening of the law on ability of social landlords to have an automatic right to claim back legal fees in cases where leaseholders take them to court and lose the case.

Seema Malhotra MP is also currently finishing and finalising a report into the issue is being commissioned to examine if the correct procedures have been followed. The issues have been a particular concern in affordable housing blocks and shared ownership where the boundaries between responsibilities for the landlord and the home owner can be more of a grey area.

Seema Malhotra MP writes:

“A decent home is the basic foundation to raise families with the best chance in life – a base from which to build dreams and aspirations. Labour has pledged that by the end of the next parliament, we will be building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for genuinely affordable rent or sale. This was a policy that resonated hugely in my constituency in the election last year. Whatever the Tories say – their record stands for itself – the number of home-owning households has fallen by 900,000 for the under-45s since 2010.

“Over the last year, I have been conducting a review of leasehold issues – with a range of leaseholders within residential blocks in my constituency independently contacting me regarding the level of service charge that has been set and the standard of work that is being provided by the social landlords. All too often, poorly written leases and the lack of power for any comeback is turning a dream home into a poverty trap. Shared ownership has become a vehicle through which leaseholders are paying huge service charges for poor delivery and with little transparency of costs.

“Earlier this year, along with other MPs, I held a roundtable in parliament with around 50 leaseholders from across London from a range of locations and housing associations. A selection of quotations from the roundtable illustrates the range of issues: We are used as cash cows”, “I pay for communal areas which I have no access”, “The service charge has massively increased since its initial amount. I am due to be evicted next week as I cannot afford the increased amount I am now having to pay.”

“We all recognise there is an urgent need for more affordable housing and good models of shared ownership are vital. The unethical practices we are seeing are letting everyone down and reducing confidence and trust.

“The need for reform is urgent – to leave the behaviour particularly of large social housing associations unchecked could well lead to increasing housing affordability issues and leaseholder poverty particularly in the case of those who are “just about managing.” Labour needs to grasp this nettle – and pave the way for a new deal for leaseholders before it is too late.”

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