Councillors are calling for an urgent change in the law to protect residents over what has been described as "broken" system.

Senior Cllr, Jo Harding, told a meeting that leaseholders of homes in Trafford are being faced with leaking roofs, broken fire doors and huge hikes in service charges.

She told a meeting: “This government is presiding over what is now commonly referred to as fleecehold. Ministers must act now." 

Leaseholders have a temporary right to land or property from the owner or "freeholder".

The leases are usually long term – often 90 or 120 years and can be for as long as 999 years, but can also be short, for example, 40 years.

Cllr Harding is the executive member for finance, change and governance and represents the Urmston ward. 

She paid tribute to the "tenacity" of some of the residents in central Urmston, on Eden Square, who she said she has been supporting, "but with not much effect, it saddens me to say".

Cllr Harding said: “I have walked around the Eden Square development and spoken to the residents who in all good faith purchased their properties that were meant to be in a premium town centre location.

“I have witnessed the leaking roofs, the broken fire doors, the damage to the walls, the shoddy repair work.

"I’ve met with residents over several years now – it really has been going on that long – as they struggle to get any clear communication, no clarity on huge hikes in service charges, and little or no response when it comes to getting repairs.”

She said that "the whole rotten system of leasehold is broken".

The motion passed by the council calls for the government to introduce an alternative to leasehold called "commonhold" – the norm in many other countries.

It involves the indefinite freehold tenure of part of a multi-occupancy building with shared ownership of and responsibility for common areas and services. 

Cllr Harding said: “Residents are working hard and watching their hard-earned money just frankly disappear in a sea of endless charges. People who feel they have no control at all over where they live.”

Leaseholders have reported a range of problems including high service charges, escalating ground rent, and a lack of transparency over these charges, she said. 

She went on: “It really is an absolute minefield. Freeholders block attempts by leaseholders to take control of the running of their buildings, there are excessive admin charges and charges for applications to extend lease agreements, and a lack of knowledge over their rights and obligations.

“We’ve known for years that the system is broken, but the reforms that people have been crying out for just haven’t happened.

"The government themselves admitted there was a need for urgent reform as far back as 2017 and in January this year they pledged to scrap this system.

"This government is presiding over what is now commonly referred to as fleecehold. Ministers must act now.

“They must keep their promises by ending this outdated system and deliver long, overdue justice to millions of people. It is not right that homeowners are being punished by these centuries-old rules.”