Government takes Aim at Managers of Freehold Estates – What Might it Mean for Homeowners?

By Victoria Tchen

Trainee Solicitor

The property landscape in England and Wales is gearing up for major transformation as the government takes action to support homeowners on freehold estates in its 3 November update.

In this blog post, we will explore the government’s update and its potential effects on homeowners.  As the government works towards bringing forward legislation, all should be prepared to adapt to a new era of property management.

But firstly, what are freehold estates?

Unlike other residential areas, freehold estates are private and mixed-tenure communities where shared areas and facilities such as roads and open spaces are not owned or looked after by local councils.

Homeowners pay estate or service charges towards the management and maintenance of shared areas or services.  These charges are often payable annually to a management company who is in charge of overseeing the maintenance, upkeep and repair of the estate.

As you can imagine, estate charges can significantly impact a property’s overall cost but it has traditionally been difficult to challenge them due to limited legal rights for homeowners.

To remedy this, the government is looking to implement the following changes:

  • The introduction of the legal right to challenge the reasonableness of charges at the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to allow homeowners to dispute charges they find excessive.
  • The introduction of a legal right to apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to appoint or replace a managing agent to manage the facilities or services they pay for. This would allow homeowners to have a say in the selection of the managing agent responsible for maintaining the facilities and services to which they are required to contribute.
  • Estate management companies that do not employ a managing agent will be required to belong to a redress scheme, adding an extra layer of accountability to the management of freehold estates.
  • The government is considering granting homeowners the right to take on the management of the estate themselves, following the Law Commission’s report. This could bring unique challenges and opportunities.

Homeowners should stay informed about these changes, review their leases, and seek legal advice when necessary.

Those who own or manage freehold estates should also stay informed and prepare to adapt to the potential changes.  

At Nockolds, we have the expertise to guide you through the changes as and when they arrive. For more information or advice, please contact our Commercial Property Team on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be very happy to assist.