Victory for nurse from Cheshire after campaign to expose leasehold scandal sparks shake-up

A nurse from Cheshire is celebrating after the government announced an end to the leasehold scandal.

Katie Kendrick from Ellesmere Port has spent the past four years fighting to own her home after her lease was sold to an offshore company.

Today the government has announced proposals to abolish ground rents, allowing people to extend their lease by almost 1,000 years. 

The government says the move could save leaseholders "tens of thousands of pounds".

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the shake-up means millions of people will no longer have to pay any ground rent to the freeholder, removing added expense from owning a home.

The proposals, announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on Thursday, are being billed as some of the biggest reforms to English property law for 40 years as ministers strive to make home ownership fairer and more secure.

Robert Jenrick Credit: PA

A freeholder owns both the property and the land it stands on while leaseholders only own the property, paying ground rent to the freeholder.

Mr Jenrick said:  "Across the country people are struggling to realise the dream of owning their own home but find the reality of being a leaseholder far too bureaucratic, burdensome and expensive.

"We want to reinforce the security that home ownership brings by changing forever the way we own homes and end some of the worst practices faced by homeowners.

"These reforms provide fairness for 4.5 million leaseholders and chart a course to a new system altogether."

Officials said the changes could save leaseholders thousands of pounds, rising to tens of thousands of pounds for some. The elderly will also be protected, with ministers reducing ground rents to zero for all new retirement properties.

Under current rules, leaseholders of houses can only extend their lease once for 50 years with a ground rent. This compares to leaseholders of flats who can extend as often as they wish at a zero "peppercorn" ground rent for 90 years.

The reforms mean both house and flat leaseholders will now be able to extend their lease to a new standard 990 years with a ground rent at zero, said a department spokesman.

Ministers are also set to establish a Commonhold Council - a partnership of leasehold groups, industry and government - that will prepare homeowners and the market for the widespread take-up of commonhold.

The commonhold model, widely used around the world, allows homeowners to own their property on a freehold basis, giving them greater control over the costs of home ownership.

Under the scheme, housing blocks are jointly owned and managed, meaning that when someone buys a flat or a house, they own it outright and any decisions about its future lies with them.

Professor Nick Hopkins, commissioner for property law at the Law Commission, said: "We are pleased to see Government taking its first decisive step towards the implementation of the Law Commission's recommendations to make enfranchisement cheaper and simpler.

"The creation of the Commonhold Council should help to reinvigorate commonhold, ensuring homeowners will be able to call their homes their own."