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The headlines coming from Government on this seem unaware of land law, and overlook that leasehold (with ground rents) can be a logical and workable system. Many leasehold developments are owned by the leaseholders through a company, whether the building is a house converted into 2 flats, or a 1930s purpose built block of 400 flats. Leasehold works fine there. The kneejerk reaction is to the currently reported vogue for developers to sell developments leasehold, including houses, with what look like excessive fixed future increases. There may be good legal reasons for the practice - shared facilities such as a private road - and the truly objectionable part is surely the 'Blue Dolphin' type escalating ground rent provisions.

By all means cap ground rents somehow, and in particular put a brake on the way in which they may be increased, and perhaps make the collective enfranchisement process simpler and the cost more transparently calculable. But don't ban leasehold houses or set ground rents at zero without taking into account all the possible consequences (leaseholder owned blocks of flats can rely on the ground rent 'cushion' for cash flow and shortfalls when service charges not paid in full, for example).

Or make wholesale changes to the law, such as making positive covenants run with the land - but something for mature considered study by the Law Commissioners surely, rather than in political soundbites?

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