New legislation: two to watch

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There are two bills now going through Parliament, that propose sweeping changes to freehold estate charges.  First, MP Helen Goodman awaits a second reading of her Freehold Properties (Management Charges and Shared Facilities) Bill which was proposed in November 2018.  This Bill makes express provision for a cap on charges and also seeks to empower freehold homeowners to be able to self-manage should they wish to do so.  This would improve on the government’s stated ambition of granting ‘fleecehold’ sites the right to a court-appointed manager.

Second, on 5 June, Parliament heard a private members bill (tabled by Preet Kaur Gill MP) which seeks to legislate that service or estate charges  for freehold owners on  housing estates will be subject to some of the same accountability that leasehold apartment owners benefit from.

The Freehold Properties (Management Charges) Bill, if passed, would oblige landlords to provide accounts of management charges payable under Section 19 of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 to freehold property owners.

At Ringley, we treat freehold house owners no differently from leasehold apartment owners. Sadly for many, this is not the norm.  We often hear stories of residents who own their own homes as freeholders but are left feeling helpless as they try to find out what monies are in the scheme.  Residents who are rightly aggrieved that, despite paying into the said fund, they are powerless to try and enforce the responsibilities of the landlord or manager.  

Ms Gill correctly asserts that the existing law requires urgent reform and that Section 19 expects more from the consumer homeowner, who pays the fees, than the landlord or scheme manager who is expected to provide a service.