AN MP hopeful in Wotton has vowed to abolish leaseholds describing the controversial housing system as “grossly unfair” and as a “national scandal”. 

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

A leaseholder is a tenant who has paid to live in a property for a set period of time, typically between 99 and 125 years.

When the agreement ends, the property returns to the landlord, who owns both the house and the plot of land. 

Service charges are fees that residents pay to the freeholder to fund the upkeep and maintenance of a building.

According to government data, England has nearly five million leasehold properties, accounting for 20 per cent of the country's current housing stock.

Dr Opher has been speaking and visiting affected Wotton leaseholders John St Alphonse and Nicholas Swale as well as Stroud leaseholder Tracy Cronin. 

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.

Gazette Series: Dr Simon Opher with Wotton leaseholders Nicholas Swale and John St AlphonseDr Simon Opher with Wotton leaseholders Nicholas Swale and John St Alphonse (Image: Dr Simon Opher)

"The whole concept of leasehold is simply outdated in the modern world, and virtually unknown anywhere else.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.”

Last week, the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill moved closer to becoming law. 

The Bill aims to make it cheaper and easier for more leaseholders in England and Wales to extend their lease, buy their freehold and take over management of their building.

MPs approved the Bill at third reading, meaning it will now be considered further by the House of Lords.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has vowed to abolish leasehold in the first 100 days of government if it wins the next general election.

Dr Opher added: “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.”

A spokesperson from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill will make long-term changes to improve home ownership for millions of leaseholders in England and Wales by empowering leaseholders and improving their consumer rights.”

Wotton will be in a new constituency at the next general election - the Stroud constituency. 

Meanwhile, the nearby village of Kingwood has been moved into the South Cotswolds constituency along with other villages including Hillesley, Alderley and Ozleworth.