The Queen is urged to change leasehold tenures on Crown Estate

The Queen may be busy preparing her Christmas address and deciding which hat she will wear for Prince Harry’s wedding, but a new issue is coming into her inbox.

Louie Burns, managing director of Leasehold Solutions, which helps home owners extended their lease or buy their freehold, is calling on Her Majesty to end her support for the UK’s feudal leasehold system, by changing the land tenure for the Crown Estate’s property portfolio.

As one of the UK’s largest property managers, the Crown Estate’s £12bn property portfolio includes thousands of leasehold homes for which it owns the freehold, he said.

The Crown Estate is owned by the monarch for the duration of their reign.

Under the terms of the Sovereign Grant Act 2011 the monarch is provided with a stable source of income from the Crown Estate’s annual net revenue.

The Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, recently agreed to increase the Queen’s personal share of the Crown Estate’s income to 25%, roughly £76m a year.

Burns questioned how leasehold can ever be abolished or reformed significantly if the law upholds “the aristocracy’s long-held belief in their entitlement to own other people’s homes and property in perpetuity”.

He said: “Leasehold properties have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in income for the Crown Estate – and the Queen personally – including through ground rents and the huge charges paid by leaseholders to extend their leases.

“Although there have been lots of encouraging statements from the Government about ending unfair practices in the leasehold system, the Crown Estate’s ownership of residential leasehold properties adds a veneer of respectability to our unjust and feudal leasehold system.

“Their refusal to let go of this leasehold cash cow validates the commitment of other freeholders to retain their ground rent portfolios too.

“The history of leasehold reform over the last 150 years has been one that repeats itself like a feudal ‘ground hog day’. It starts with great public dissatisfaction and anger with the leasehold system, which eventually prompts politicians to take notice and introduce some legislation that tinkers around the edges of the issue, without ever bringing about the changes that are needed – namely the abolition of the leasehold system in the UK.

“It is time to change this depressing pattern of events and abolish this deeply flawed leasehold system for good. The Queen and our Government should show the way, by changing the land tenure on all leasehold properties owned by the Crown Estate and giving the tenants the option to become homeowners.”


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  1. Anthony

    All sensible points

  2. Cosmo

    Marc, your article makes a good and relevant point but it seems spitefully focused on one particular entity – the monarch’s estates.

    It even mentions that The Crown Estate is “one” of the biggest but not addressing any of the others.
    To say that the Queen has to lead the way in giving up land ownership is also naive as, even if she did so, will have no effect on the overall picture apart from making the news for a couple of days. The 12bn portfolio may seem staggering for most common people but is a tiny portion of the overall leasehold in UK. Landlords range widely and are not at all limited to aristocrats. In fact, some of the largest landlords are also developers building on land they purchase to build new developments.

    I do agree that leaseholds must be abolished and they certainly will at some point in the future.
    It is an outdated feudal system that somehow managed to survive and its abolition is well overdue. When this eventually happens one day, the Queen will be the last to complain, it will be the financial institutions and investment and pension fund who will make screem.

    When the abolition eventually comes, it will be announced and applicable for everyone – from the owner of a four flat building to the Grosvenors and all the way to the Crown Estates.
    Then the landlords will have to sell the freeholds to the individual leaseholders into a commonhold or a similar structure, thus receiving adequate compensation for it.
    Pointing a finger at one of the most respected persons in the nation who is expected to uphold and preserve heritage and tradition is merely your personal spite/jealousy made public.
    So, Marc, you need to realize that the audience you are trying to reach is too intelligent to fall for this unless they are one of the few sharing your feelings. You can try the tabloids, I can guarantee you it will have a better impact there.


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