Leasehold Policy Never Changes. Why?

Leasehold Policy Never Changes. Why?

Rather like the woodcutter armed with a simple bow saw confronted by a forest of trees, successive governments have been intimidated by making any significant legislative change to leasehold and freehold law in the UK. Leasehold and freehold law in the UK goes back hundreds of years – to the Middle Ages – and while there has been some attempt to simplify the law core fundamentals remain in place.

Freeholders (Lords of the Manor no less) enjoy permanent rights to immovable land. Where they grant temporary rights to their freehold land to those ‘loathsome tenants’ an arrangement is set up for a pre-agreed time period and with certain conditions attached: the detail of which is captured in the lease.

This feudal hierarchy goes back centuries and allows the landowner to treat his tenants as vassals (who are expected to pay homage and loyalty to their keeper in return for the use of their land). So, for the leaseholder it’s essentially a take it or leave it offer. Ouch. And if you don’t take it somebody else will. To cement the point the term ‘tenancy at sufferance’ still exists. Many empires have created vassal states out of cities, kingdoms, and tribes in order that they be brought under direct control without having to conquer or govern them.

Fast forward to the 21st century and one can understand (but not necessarily support) the reasons why power over land is enjoyed by the freeholder. While governments have tried to redress this power imbalance by giving more rights to leaseholders: encouraging them to forcibly Buy The Freehold and exercise the Right To Manage, the fundamentals remain. Fundamental change is unlikely while humans are prepared to fight for territory.

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    • A
      James Cooke

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