Survey of attitudes to commonhold a sign of Government’s intent

The Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP) has said a government report into homeowners’ attitudes to commonhold clearly shows the intended direction of travel for leasehold reform.


The report – ‘Living in and looking after shared buildings: the perspective of leaseholders and prospective flat buyers’ – was published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 20 July 2023. It explores consumer attitudes towards leasehold, commonhold, enfranchisement, and the Right to Manage (RTM) to improve understanding about people’s feelings towards living in flats, and to gather views about people’s appetite for running a block themselves as commonholders.


Mark Chick, Director at ALEP and Senior Partner at law firm Bishop & Sewell LLP, said: “This report is a clear indication of the Government’s intentions for leasehold reform and the likely direction of travel when it comes to future policy. It is evident from the report that the Government is keen to pursue opportunities to broaden commonhold ownership as an alternative to leasehold, and the research is helpful in benchmarking homeowners’ attitudes.


“ALEP welcomes this report, which highlights a number of key areas for further consideration, such as the widespread lack of understanding about the different types of home ownership tenure, as well as a lack of awareness of other ways flat owners can take control through mechanisms already available to them, such as RTM.”


The report found that most participants had “no awareness” of the ‘Right to Manage’ in leasehold, nor that commonhold is an alternative to leasehold, and acknowledges that “More could be done to promote the available options, including commonhold, to the public.”


Under commonhold, owners own the freehold to their flat, and jointly own the freehold to the communal parts of the building with the other residents, through a commonhold company known as a commonhold association.


Mark continued: “The report shows that although awareness of commonhold is low, when participants were provided with more information about commonhold ownership, they generally viewed it positively in theory. I see this report as being a step by government (through market research) to show the possibility of generating wider interest in commonhold. 


“Some potential drawbacks have been highlighted by participants in the survey, and it will be interesting to see how the Government now responds to the findings and what, if any, impact the report will have on the development of leasehold reform policies moving forwards.”