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Leasehold and Freehold Bill 2023-24

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill 2023-24 was introduced to the House of Commons on 27 November 2023. The Bill’s second reading took place on 11 December 2023.  It was considered by a Public Bill Committee between 16 January and 1 February 2024. The Bill’s report stage and third reading took place on 27 February 2024. The Bill has now moved to the House of Lords.

The Bill applies to England and Wales. It implements commitments in the 2017 housing white paper to “improve consumer choice and fairness in leasehold” and in the Conservative Party Manifesto 2017 (PDF) to “crack down on unfair practices in leasehold”. It also takes forward many of the leasehold reform recommendations made by the Law Commission in their reports of 2020.

The Bill’s main provisions would:

  • make it cheaper and easier for leaseholders in houses and flats to extend their lease and buy the freehold.
  • increase the standard lease extension term to 990 years, with ground rent reduced to a peppercorn (zero financial value), upon payment of a premium.
  • change the qualifying criteria to give more leaseholders the right to extend their lease, buy their freehold and take over management of their building.
  • ban the granting of new leasehold houses (with some exceptions).
  • improve the transparency of service charges and ensure leaseholders receive key information on a regular basis.
  • give leaseholders a new right to request information about service charges and the management of their building.
  • improve the transparency of administration charges and buildings insurance commissions.
  • ensure leaseholders are not subject to any unjustified legal costs and can claim their own legal costs from their freeholder.
  • improve the transparency of estate charges and give freehold homeowners access to redress schemes.
  • ensure that relevant property sales information is provided to leaseholders and freeholders on estates in a timely manner.
  • ensure a rentcharge owner is not able to take possession or grant a lease on a freehold property where the rentcharge remains unpaid for a short period of time.
  • strengthen the leaseholder protections in the Building Safety Act 2022.

Alongside the Bill, the Government launched a consultation seeking views on options to restrict ground rents for existing leaseholders. The consultation closes on 17 January 2024. Subject to that consultation, the Government will look to introduce a ground rent cap through the Bill.

Leasehold reform in two stages

The Bill is the second part of a legislative package to reform leasehold law. It follows on from the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022, which put an end to ground rents for most new residential leasehold properties in England and Wales.

Related Government proposals

The Government has said it will:

Leasehold reform in Wales

Whilst housing is a devolved policy area, the law of property is a reserved matter in relation to Wales.

The legislation governing leasehold ownership currently applies in England and Wales but there are some differences in notices and other document requirements.

The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 has effect in Wales. The Welsh Government has published guidance for leaseholders, landlords and agents.

On 28 November 2023, Julie James, Minister for Climate Change, published a written statement confirming the Welsh Government’s intention to lay a Legislative Consent Memorandum in respect of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill.  The Welsh Government laid an LCM on 12 December 2023 (PDF) and supplementary LCMs on 30 January (PDF) and 4 March 2024 (PDF). 

Further information

Library briefing: Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill 2023-24

Library briefing: Leasehold and Commonhold Reform

Gov.uk: Guide to the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill


About the author: Hannah Cromarty is a researcher at the House of Commons Library specialising in housing and homelessness.

Disclaimer

The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.

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