Author : Maryanne Bowring
The new Commonhold Council held its first meeting last month. In 2018 The Law Commission proposed reforms that could be used to develop commonhold as an alternative to leasehold ownership. The new advisory panel will be looking those recommendations to see if they can make them work in practice - and whether or not commonhold could be a better, fairer form of property ownership.
The Council comprises leasehold groups and industry experts and is chaired by Building Safety Minister Lord Greenhalgh. Members include the BPF, the Building Society Association, FoPRA, the Law Society and the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership among others. A technical support group has also been established “to offer practical, legal and analytical expertise” to the Council. Commonhold means flats can be owned freehold, like houses, but with residents all becoming members of a company which owns and manages the shared areas and the structure of the building. The upside is that residents have more of a say over the way their building is managed. They can get more involved in the way that shared facilities are used and operated and – probably most appealing of all - there are no hidden costs or charges. Commonhold is widely used in plenty of countries around the world. It provides a tried and tested structure for homeowners to collectively own the building their flat is in, so why don't we just do it here? The reality is that there is a downside, and it’s a significant one.
Greater collective responsibility brings with it questions around commonhold company structures, their financial arrangements and liabilities, and getting buy-in from other residents for maintenance and other types of expenditure can be a far-from-easy task. If commonhold does take off here, it is likely that some groups of residents will see the value in continuing to use a professional management company to operate their blocks. However, it is inevitable that others will look at their building and think “how hard can it be?” The answer, unless you live in a very small block, is “harder than it looks” (and more expensive!) but it may take people a while – and they may have to get a few disasters under their belts – before they realise that. The worst case scenario is that blocks will fall into disrepair while residents argue amongst themselves over how and when money should be spent. Eventually a professional manager may be appointed to pick up the pieces but not before the buildings in question have become devalued in the process.
The Government seems to regard commonhold as a panacea for disgruntled homeowners let down by the leasehold system. In fact it comes with a whole new set of problems of its own. So it will be interesting to see what conclusions the Commonhold Council comes to in the next few months. None of those involved has any vested interest in promoting commonhold over leasehold – they simply represent a cross-section of stakeholders. We will be keeping a close eye on the way they are thinking.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
Runs HQ & site lease-up teams. Drives rent pricing, mobilisation, marketing, happy residents!
Jon Curtis MRICS Head of Building Engineering
Chartered Building Surveyor. Lectures on EWS1 & building safety. Runs CapEx programmes.
Kate Robinson MIRPM MD Blocks/FM Management (London Region)
Master plan setup, ops and staffing and resident engagement. ISO45001 champion.
Lee Harle Partner Ringley Law
Plot conveyancing. Debt litigation. Group Company Secretary.
Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
Stakeholder engagement. Mixed tenure specialist. Budget management. Plant audit, PPM compliance.
Chris Georgalis MRICS Head of Commercial Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental valuations: retail, leisure. IRR modelling and valuations for secured lending. Compulsory purchase & rent reviews
Nichola Pughe MRICS Head of Residential Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental development & mixed use valuations, IRR modelling. Leasehold enfranchisement specialist
Libby Chen MSc Compliance Manager
Operational Plant & Equipment strategy PPM Compliance lead, Asset tagging Client major projects
Dipesh Parekh Director PlanetRent
Customer centric, vertically integrated PropTech/fin-tech solutions.
Leana Aristodemou MIRPM MARLA AssocRICS Strategic lead: ESG & Asset Business Plan delivery
Financial modelling, valuation analyst to support underwriting & fund reporting.
Natalie Birmingham Helpdesk Support Manager
Trainer & Helpdesk Manager: people, systems,contractors. ISO45001 supply chain accreditation.
Steve Norman Planning Director
Land due diligence (opportunities & constraints) Has contributed to a number of award winning schemes.