I, for one, was not holding my breath on the 21 July 2020 in anticipation of the three reports to be issued by the Law Commission on Leasehold Reform. As a valuer in the sector, I would describe myself as cynically indifferent to the whole question and subject of Leasehold Reform.
It would also be fair to say that it was this cynicism that led me to make a Freedom of Information Act request to the Law Commission, asking them to declare how much money had been spent on the process to date. I admit I was feeling smugly optimistic – just how many millions of pounds had been spent? However, it turned out that I could not have been more wrong footed.
With full disclosure and a full explanation, including clarifying that their work had been more far-reaching than the area of my specific request on costs to date, the costs were in my opinion surprisingly modest and represent a good bang for the taxpayer’s buck.
Regardless of where you sit on the Landlord and Tenant spectrum of fairness, intentionally or not, the work of the Law Commission has changed the playing field without needing to change the law.
With my approval and indeed aplomb, I think the Public Pledge for Leaseholders of June 2019 is, and should be widely promoted – it is a huge step forward dealing with the so-called leasehold ‘scandal’. Furthermore, if Tribunals followed the ‘Pledge’ in all cases, the problem/scandal would pretty much extinguish itself.
With that in mind I do not understand why, on the 9 March 2020, Clive Betts, as Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee wrote to Christopher Pincher MP, the Housing Minister, stating he was not convinced by the Pledge and wanted more measures, including stopping RPI ground rents.
As a valuer I do not understand the issue or fuss. I also have a sneaking suspicion that a number of influencers in the sector have never sufficiently got to grips with the money/valuation issues to understand the ‘problem’ (yet, of course, they have an opinion).
This is exactly what I expressed to the Law Commission, and thanked them for their reply and a truly far-reaching piece of work. For those of you who are interested, I will also reveal the cost as advised:
‘Our best estimate of the cost of the enfranchisement project up to the point of publication of the report (Law Com No 392) is £1,100,000 (rounded to the nearest £5,000)’.