Is Commonhold the answer? You’re probably hearing this term all the time. People are saying to do it, people are advocating it, but what’s weird is that the only people advocating it are leaseholders.
You might say ‘of course – they’re the people that benefit most from Commonhold’. There’s also the argument that agents won’t advocate Commonhold purely because they won’t benefit.
Definition of Commonhold
According to LEASE:
Commonhold is a new type of property ownership. It is an alternative to the long leasehold system. It allows you to own the freehold of individual flats, houses and non-residential units in a building or on an estate. Unlike leasehold, there is no limit on how long you can own the property for.
The rest of the building or estate which forms the commonhold is owned and managed jointly by the flat owners (referred to as unit-holders) through a commonhold association.
The truth is, in my opinion, that Commonhold is flawed and it won’t work.
Let me explain why I think it won’t work:
Let’s say for example that there are six flats. You’re all pals and you make joint decisions.
One person wants to rip down some walls and do some internal works- everyone goes, “Yeah, let’s have a pint and talk about it.” The conclusion made at the bar is “Yeah, what’s the problem? Just do it.”
You then get someone to do the work and all of a sudden there are problems. They take down a structural wall. They put a wet room over a dry room. They change the fire integrity of the whole development/building which could cause a problem later down the road.
The Bottom Line
If you put yourself in a position like the above scenario, you’re ultimately putting yourself at risk.
There’s a reason we have restrictions in leases. There’s a reason that you’ve got to get a surveyor to check the works that you’re trying to carry out.
If you remove that fail-safe, what are the chances of our six neighbourly pals who want to discuss things over a nice curry saying “yeah, let’s pay £2000 and get professional in to check everything before we go ahead”?
I think it’s far more likely that they’d say “nah, we all think it’s fine.” and that seemingly innocent, neighbourly shortcut could be dangerous. For that one reason alone, I don’t think commonhold will work.