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Call for community land trusts to be exempt from leasehold reforms

Words: Laura Edgar
Houses / iStock_000024561120

A housing charity says the government’s proposed reforms for leasehold would become a ‘stranglehold’ for community-led housing providers that could jeopardise thousands of new homes.

In July, The Planner reported on communities secretary Sajid Javid’s proposals to stop new homes being sold as leasehold and to restrict ground rents to as low as zero.

Leasehold, on the whole, applies to flats that have shared spaces, but the government has expressed concern that developers, particularly in the North-West, have been selling houses on these terms.

Through Community Land Trusts (CLTs), leases are used to retain control of land to ensure that prices remain affordable. The approach allows CLT properties to be aligned to what people earn in the local area, explained the National Community Land Trust Network.

Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS), a London-based CLT, is developing 33 new mixed-tenure homes. The CLT will keep a stake of at least 20 per cent in each property to ensure that the development remains affordable in perpetuity. Residents can expect to spend only a third of their income.

Now, the National Community Land Trust Network has called on the government to protect community-led housing by exempting CLTs from the ban. Together with UK Cohousing, it has also suggested a Code of Conduct for Public Interest Leases, where best practice of the leasehold market is promoted.

Catherine Harrington, director of the National Community Land Trust Network, said: “Community Land Trusts have played no role in the exploitation of leasehold. While we support the consultation’s goal of addressing the unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold by developers and private investors, CLTs are one of a few approaches using leasehold to deliver genuinely affordable housing. That's why we are calling for the government to exempt CLTs and other affected community-led housing models from this proposed ban.

“CLTs are a form of community-led housing, set up and run by ordinary people who want to help those in housing need. It’s the fastest-growing housing model in the UK. We hope other responsible housing providers will join us to campaign for a Code of Conduct for Public Interest Leases.”

The National Community Land Trust Network and UK Cohousing have issued a proposed approach to the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on its leasehold proposals, which can be found here (pdf).

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