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Where is the mid-term lease trap slamming shut on homeowners?

March 29th 2022

Our research shows that around 450,000 of the leasehold properties in England and Wales have less than 80 years left to run on their lease. That sounds like plenty of time, right? Well actually no. Leases with less than 80 years remaining fall into the category of ‘mid-term’ and that can start to present a myriad of problems for the owners of those properties.

Firstly, mid-term leaseholders find their property loses value each year as the time left on the lease ticks down with each passing year. Secondly, as a matter of course, mortgage lenders are often unwilling to lend against a property with less than 80 years left to run on its lease. The only way for those homeowners to remedy this and secure the value of their property is to extend their lease by 90 years via a legal process known as ‘enfranchisement.’

Essentially enfranchisement is a right to compulsory purchase of a 90-year lease extension. However, it is an expensive and complicated process that can cost tens of thousands of pounds and many people simply don’t have that kind of money lying around making it unaffordable, especially for those in retirement with a fixed income.

So where are these properties? Well, in London alone there are 98,000 properties considered to be on mid-term leases, but as our heatmap below reveals, areas such as the West Midlands, Bournemouth, South Wales and Tyneside are also particularly highly concentrated with mid-term lease properties, showing just how widespread the issue is.

So, what is the government doing about it? Well, the answer I’m afraid is not a lot. The leasehold reform bill was recently passed which takes measures to protect future leaseholders from exorbitant ground rents and indexing formulae imposed by freeholders. However, there isn’t much comfort in there for existing leaseholders who may have been pinning their hopes on this bill saving them from their own sticky situation. A second bill is promised, but the truth is that even if a second bill does emerge – and that is by no means certain – it will not glide through parliament as easily as the first one did, because it will deal with the more controversial aspect of leasehold reform: how to deal with existing agreements. It seems those in the mid-term lease trap may have to find a solution for themselves.

So, what can be done? Well, if possible, don’t delay. If you are in a position to extend your lease, do it now and don’t wait for the Government. After all, the promised reform may well be watered down, or may never happen, and meanwhile the value surrender clock keeps ticking. The good news, too, is that LMGL may be able to help older homeowners release equity from their home to meet the cost of enfranchisement and also help you through the process. We launched LMGL this year, to help homeowners of equity release age, living within a retirement fixed income and trapped with mid-term leases, to extend their leases. Working with partners such as Vantage Finance, Ince, Egerton and Key, we may well be able to offer a solution that will help you secure the value in your home and hopefully leave you better off in the long-term.

 

If you are trapped by your mid-term lease and want to talk to someone about the options available to you then consult an independent financial advisor (IFA) and call 0333 391139 or visit www.lmglogistics.co.uk, and LMGL may be able to help.


Could your client benefit from a mid-term leasehold extension?

Lifetime Mortgage Gateway (LMG) helps leaseholders extend their mid-term leases to enable them to qualify for a Lifetime Mortgage.

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