Countryside Properties agrees to amend ground rents – as the momentum behind leasehold reform continues to grow

Mark Chick, Senior Partner and Head of Bishop & Sewell’s Landlord & Tenant team.

Countryside Properties has joined Taylor Wimpey and Aviva in announcing it will end the doubling of ground rents on new build developments. Following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, Countryside Properties will make adjustments to leases so that leaseholders will be able keep rents at the same level as when they first bought their home, writes Mark Chick, Bishop & Sewell’s Senior Partner and Head of its Landlord & Tenant team.

This is good news for leaseholders with 10-year doubling rents, or other reviews where Countryside is still the freeholder.

It will be interesting to see whether Michael Gove, in his new role as Secretary of State for Housing, will push forward with the legislative agenda that Robert Jenrick, his predecessor, started.

The momentum behind leasehold reform continues to grow.

Earlier in the summer I did speculate as to whether there would be others that would follow the lead taken by Aviva and Persimmon.

Fast forward just eight weeks and another developer has joined the ranks of those prepared to make an adjustment to 10-year doubling rents. This is undoubtedly good news for those leaseholders. As to whether other developers will follow suit, we will have to wait and see.

I suspect that this is a question of scale and those that have made this gesture are those where this is ‘easier’ for the freeholder to do, because of the number of affected units; I would speculate this represents a smaller proportion of their overall interests or, perhaps, is non-core to their other operations.

It is clear is that the agenda for legislative and cultural reform in leasehold had been set – it now remains to be seen how – and, critically, when, the politicians will follow this through.

We do have a number of moves in that direction (the Commonhold Council) and the promise of a response from government to the Law Commission’s wider proposals for reform, which is to say nothing of the Ground Rent Abolition Bill currently making its way through Parliament.

The momentum behind leasehold reform continues to grow.

Mark Chick is Senior Partner and Head of Bishop and Sewell’s Landlord & Tenant team. Should you require any further advice or assistance, please contact him on +44 (0)20 7079 2415 or email: [email protected]

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