Gove calls for abolition of “feudal” leasehold system

Michael Gove has stated in no uncertain terms that the “outdated, feudal” leasehold system in England and Wales must be abolished.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told The Times that he’d like the government to “cut the Gordian knot” rather than continue to work around the complex, historic system.

“I don’t believe leasehold is fair in any way,” said Gove. “It is an outdated, feudal system that needs to go […] We need to move to a better system and to liberate people.”

Commenting on Gove’s statement, Mark Chick, Director, Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners, said it was “encouraging” to hear, though called for clarity regarding which specific elements of the leasehold system Gove wants to address, as well as noting his concerns over the practicalities of introducing such reforms ahead of the next election.

This comes as Gove – who has largely led the government’s action against housing developers in the aftermath of Grenfell – has given companies six weeks to sign cladding remediation contracts.

Until now, 49 developers have signed a pledge to fix their buildings over 11 metres, setting out responsibilities to contribute to over £2 billion of repairs and a £3 billion developer levy over the next 10 years.

The contract, however, will etch this into law. Developers who do not sign the contracts will face “significant consequences”, said the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

One such consequence is that Gove will be given the authority to prevent developers operating freely in the housing market if they do not sign and comply with the remediation contract. He told The Times:

“If you can’t maintain that which you have already built in safe conditions for those within those homes, then why should you be granted permission to carry on with your line of business, with the development of new homes?”

At another point in his interview with the national newspaper, Gove said the government’s guidance prior to Grenfell was “faulty and ambiguous” which “allowed unscrupulous people to exploit a broken system in a way that led to tragedy”. His intentions to abolish the leasehold system and to hold developers accountable are aiming to ensure such tragedy never occurs again.

3 Responses

  1. Presumably he intends to do this by stopping new residential leases after a set date, with only freehold a commonhold thereafter, rather than abolishing existing leasehold titles?

    Or is Michael Gove a closet revolutionary, agreeing with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s statement that “property is theft”?

    1. Presuming Gove will mandate Commonhold for new and refurbished blocks of flats, no new leasehold houses, cheaper, easier enfranchisement and easier Right to Manage. (As previously outlined by Robert Jenrick). Long leasehold is truly an awful system, confined to England and Wales. Other developed countries have had the good sense to get rid of it, or never use it in the first place.

    2. I really hope and pray that Mr Gove is being totally honest.

      I would love to believe him but his history makes it extremely difficult to take what he says at face value and without wondering what is he plotting now?

      Please Mr Gove, prove me wrong.

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join over 7,000 conveyancing professionals – Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our daily and weekly round ups

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.