Property tenure

THE compulsion of nature makes shelter a necessity of human beings. Social housing and private property have moved to the top of the political agenda.

When there were rough roads, few drains, no sanitation systems, private wells, candles and oil-lamps, no mortgages, and no corporations, the meaning of private property was unamiguous.

Private property is now a legal fiction, especially for leaseholders. The coalition government opposed the reformation of our property tenure system that is a legacy of feudalism. Leaseholders have a minimum of control as regards to their property.

The policy adviser at Age UK has complained to the Government about the behaviour of unscrupulous landlords and managing agents operating in the retirement leasehold sector.

Besides excessive service charges plus supervisory fees, landlords now impose transfer fees when leases are sold. Like ground rent a transfer fee is a reward for the owner of the land.

Few leaseholders have the means to buy out the freehold from their landlord por even to extend their lease. They face progressive transfer of their wealth to their landlord.

The Big Society consists of 0.3 per cent of the people who own 69 per cent of the land. At the end of a lease, the landowner takes possession of not only the land b ut also the building or part existing on his land.

Incredibly, the leaseholders have funded in full the construction and maintenance of their homes. The freeholder has contributed not a penny.

The Housing Minister and Justice Secretary refuse to acknowledge that a remnant of the feudal system remains; both insist that the wretched leasehold system should NOT be abolished.

Maurice Webb

Downview Road, Worthing