11 February 2022

Robert Barham quoted in The Law Society Gazette on the ground rent reform

Residential Property Partner, Robert Barham, has been quoted in The Law Society Gazette article entitled 'Messy situation: ground rent reform becomes law'.

In the article, Robert shares his views on the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act, which received Royal assent this week.

The article was first published in The Law Society Gazette and can be read in full here and below.

'Messy situation': ground rent reform becomes law

Housing developers could face a ‘messy situation’ now that a bill setting the ground rent for new leasehold properties at ‘one peppercorn’ per year has become law, a residential property solicitor has warned.

Housing minister Eddie Hughes said the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act, which received Royal assent this week, will set the ground rent to zero on new leases from this summer and save future leaseholders hundreds of pounds a year.

Robert said some developers anticipating the bill have already effectively abolished ground rents. Developers launching new schemes may want to pre-empt the new law by abolishing ground rents ‘but for schemes that are half sold at the time the law comes into force they will face the messy situation where some tenants pay ground rents and others do not’.

Robert added buyers are likely to resist having to pay a ground rent 'particularly if they can delay their purchase long enough to ensure it becomes illegal. Solicitors and other advisers will no doubt want to advise both their developer and buyer clients of the pending changes'.

The government said ‘tightly defined’ exceptions under the act include applicable community-led housing and certain business leases. Statutory lease extensions for houses and flats are exempt. The ground rent that can continue to be charged on a voluntary lease extension is capped and cannot exceed the amount specified in the lease for the remaining term, before reverting to a peppercorn rent for the extended term. The act will come into force no earlier than 1 April 2023 for retirement homes.

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