2018 reflections and 2019 expectations - the view from ALEP

Mark Chick, ALEP Director and Partner at Bishop & Sewell rounds up the last year and looks ahead to 2019.

As a new year begins, we reflect on another year where leasehold enfranchisement has been a hot topic as the ground rent scandal and residential leasehold have been in the spotlight. Criticisms and concerns have been raised about how to promote transparency and fairness in the sector and calls to simplify legislation have been made.

These concerns have brought forward significant consultations regarding leasehold. Indeed, the Law Commission's consultation - ‘Leasehold home ownership: buying your freehold or extending your lease’ has been widely discussed and proposes four crucial areas of change:

  1. Procedural and jurisdictional reform
  2. Freehold acquisition
  3. Valuation
  4. Costs

We eagerly await the results of the consultation (which closed on 7th January) as any recommendations will have implications not only for the leasehold sector, but also the wider property industry. It is expected that options for reform will be put forward to government in the second half of 2019.

We can proudly say that 2018 was an incredibly successful year for the Association; membership reached its peak and we are delighted to now have more than 230-member firms representing the full spectrum of the sector. ALEP is, and always will be, apolitical in nature. As member firms represent both freeholders and leaseholders, ALEP’s job is to promote best practice, education, fairness and clarity. These are the principles at the core of all ALEP’s activities and initiatives. We also held our first annual lecture (about commonhold) and our annual conference was the biggest yet with more than 300 enfranchisement professionals in attendance.

With leasehold enfranchisement now firmly in the consumer spotlight, 2018 saw a spike in regional membership requests, as more people seek the advice of proven enfranchisement professionals in their area. As a result of this we held our first regional training event in Manchester last year, and have another regional seminar taking place Bath to be held in March 2019.

It is not possible to make mention of 2018 without also recording with sadness the passing of Alex Greenslade one of our founder directors. Much has been said elsewhere about his contribution to the leasehold sector, but the directors and Committee of ALEP are fully committed to ensuring the continued success of ALEP in 2019 and beyond as part of a lasting tribute to his memory.

Looking forward to 2019, the viability of a commonhold system working in the UK is currently being examined by the Law Commission, and the consultation ‘Reinvigorating commonhold: the alternative to leasehold ownership’ is open for responses until 10th March 2019. Commonhold is being reviewed as another option to leasehold as a result of the so-called leasehold scandal, and in a bid to make the enfranchisement process more open and straightforward.

As this year progresses and conversation around leasehold keeps pace, ALEP will continue to act as the ‘voice of the industry’. We hope to see a rise in regional membership trends and increasing ALEP’s presence outside of London. We have several educational and networking events already planned for 2019 where discussion and debate will be top of the agenda. We are privileged to say that many of our members were instrumental in supporting the government and the Law Commission by offering advice and counsel, and ALEP will encourage its members to play active roles in any upcoming consultations which will help shape future legislation.

If you would like to find out more about ALEP please visit the website – alep.org.uk

Reviewed: July 2019