Monday, 16 June 2008

Leasehold law needs to be changed

I have been working on behalf of Mrs. Phillips, an 87 year-old widow who has lived in her house in Maerdy for 60 years. Glenys Phillips has never been informed that she is a leaseholder. The owner of the freehold has no legal obligation to inform a leaseholder of this or to ever contact the tenant. Mrs. Phillips now faces a stressful legal battle and the prospect of having to pay for the freehold owner's legal fees. There is nothing in the law which places a duty on freeholders to identify themselves to the leaseholder.

My argument is that the law needs to be changed. When freeholds are being bought and sold, the tenant should have a legal right to be informed about the sale. The freeholder is currently allowed anonymity and is under no obligation to respond to solicitors' letters.

There may be hundreds or even thousands of other residents across the country who do not realise that they are leaseholders. If people are worried they should check their deeds and see if they can ascertain whether their house is a freehold or leasehold. I am raising this publicly so that people with concerns can contact my office at the Assembly so that we can raise awareness and change the law get a fairer outcome for people like this. Glenys Phillips should be able to live out the rest of her life in decency and security without being pressurised by the prospect of paying out thousands of pounds to buy a house she thought she already owned.

Do you think you own your house? Perhaps it's time to check the deeds.

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