Reynolds’ Report: MP for Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield, look at the increasing issue of leasehold swindles

WE Brits are famous for many mannerisms. Queuing nicely. Chatting about the weather. A stiff upper lip, at least until we have had a tipple or two.

Jonathan Reynolds MP

But as a nation we are not known for being gullible. We are a cynical lot who can smell a con a mile off.

All this makes us extremely unlikely to take the latest booming consumer con lying down – the growth industry in ever escalating leasehold charges.

I have repeatedly raised the issue of unfair leasehold charges in Parliament and helped found the All-Party Parliamentary Group For Leasehold Reform to look into this murky practice.

It is a scandal that is at epidemic levels in our area. Sixteen of the 20 constituencies most affected by dodgy leasehold charges are in the North West, and 14 of those in Greater Manchester.

I am bombarded with emails from constituents who have been affected by the problems of ground rents and service charges.

A block of 18 flats in Hattersley were quoted £32,000 to paint their hallways by their management group. You could have painted them with gold and expected a lower quote.

Another constituent was charged £180 just to ask what it would cost to buy their freehold!

Often the bill for service charges comes with no breakdown, sometimes even charging for works that pre-dated that particular managing agent taking over the freehold.

I will continue to speak up for my constituents until something gets done.

As shadow economic secretary, I am proud and excited that Labour has taken on many of these points as manifesto commitments.

But I don’t want this to be a partisan issue. I want to see all parties come together and for the Government to take some decisive action.

It is time to turn lip service into law. Otherwise I think our famous British reserve may start to run low. Homeowners will not be taken for mugs in 2019.

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