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It is a national scandal, insists Dr Simon Opher

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Dr Simon Opher, Dursley GP and Labour Party Parliamentary candidate for Stroud, has raised serious concerns about the plight of the district’s leaseholders. 

Dr Opher said: “It is a national scandal that millions of people are stuck paying mortgages on leasehold property they’ll never own and often struggle to sell. Worse still, the management companies who own the freeholds often charge leaseholders huge service charges while doing little to maintain the property.”

Leaseholders in Stroud district have been hit by massive increases in maintenance costs over the last year, often with little work to show for their money. Across the country, service fees have gone up by over 51% in the last five years.

John St Alphonse, 64,  who lives in a leasehold flat in Britannia Mews in Wotton said: “I have seen the service charge on my flat  double in the last couple of years, and yet if we ask the service and maintenance company to actually repair anything, the response is often slow and sometimes they forget until you remind them. The company claims an outdoor space which used to be maintained is now a ‘nature reserve site’, but that was done to save money.”

The service and maintenance company has almost doubled its charges in just three years, a huge increase compared with the UK average of just 8% for last year (Source: Hamptons). Mr St Alphonse continued: “We have a leasehold contract for 99 years and the maintenance of the shared spaces in the building is at best very minimal. They are also difficult to get in touch with on their telephone helpline. Other residents have complained bitterly about the service charge, especially the recent and massive increase which the service and maintenance company made no attempt to explain or justify to us.”

Another leaseholder, Tracy Cronin, has been trying to get basic maintenance for her flat since 2022. She said:”The gutters are broken so water pours down the walls, and the passageways are so cluttered they are a fire risk.

“I have been trying to get my maintenance company to do something for over a year now. They are keen to take your money, but when it comes to doing the work, they don’t do anything.”

Dr Opher went to the buildings to see for himself: “The whole concept of leasehold is simply outdated in the modern world, and virtually unknown anywhere else. Maintenance companies are making grotesque profits while leaseholders have no choice but to pay exorbitant fees.

“A Labour Government would abolish the concept of leasehold, and completely overhaul property ownership laws. This will give control of maintenance back to the residents, and stop businesses making money out of their misery. 

“So many leaseholders have contacted me about this issue which piles unjustified and uncontrolled costs on top of rising mortgages. It’s grossly unfair and needs changing. The Government’s proposals on leasehold reform don’t go nearly far enough, and won’t bring any relief to leaseholders exploited under the current system.”

The Labour Party has vowed to abolish leasehold in the first 100 days of government if it wins the next General Election.

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