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‘I wish I had never touched them’: Leasehold flats

Liz Winstanley’s experience with leasehold ownership highlights the challenges many homeowners face. In 2018, Liz purchased a two-bed leasehold flat in Manchester, but her troubles began when Storm Eunice hit two years later.

During the storm, water leaked into Liz’s top-floor apartment, causing significant damage. Unlike freehold homeowners who can quickly address such issues through their buildings insurance, Liz had to navigate the complexities of leasehold ownership, relying on a managing agent, FirstPort, to fix the problem. Despite numerous attempts, the initial repairs failed, forcing Liz to temporarily vacate her home due to mold growth.

Finding temporary accommodation proved to be another challenge, with Liz expressing concerns about safety and disturbances in the area where she was relocated. Eventually, she was able to return home, but the experience left her disillusioned with the leasehold system.

Liz’s story highlights broader issues within the leasehold system, including poor communication, inadequate repairs, and unjustifiable service charges. The ongoing debate over leasehold reform has led to the introduction of the Leasehold and Freehold (Reform) Bill in Parliament, aimed at providing leaseholders with greater transparency and legal recourse.

Despite these efforts, many homeowners, like Liz and Anna, continue to advocate for more control over their properties and finances. The concept of commonhold has gained traction as a potential alternative to leasehold ownership, offering homeowners greater autonomy in managing their buildings.

As discussions around leasehold reform continue, it’s clear that significant changes are needed to address the systemic issues and ensure fair and transparent property ownership for all homeowners.

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