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Personal Finance: Have a real say in the neighbourhood with commonhold.

For as long as anyone cares to remember, house-buyers have bought properties that are either freehold or leasehold.

But this set to change as the Government plans legislation that will introduce a third form of tenure - commonhold.

Commonhold means that someone who owns a property within a development with the use of common areas or services also gets a stake in the whole community. It will mean that a buyer acquiring an apartment will also gain a share of the whole block, and a vote on how it is run.

A community association, made up of residents, will be created to look after things such as cleaning and lift maintenance and to set service charges.

'Commonhold apartment blocks will not have ultimate landlords, or the problems that can be associated with them,' said Bryan Gillery, partner of legal firm Eversheds. 'The residents are their own landlords and there is no ground rent.'

According to Mr Gillery, the new legislation will also make it easier for residents to buy out their leaseholds from existing landlords.

Commonhold may be new to the UK, but it has been in use for over 30 years in countries such as Australia and the USA.

There, it is applied to whole developments, not just apartment blocks.

In the USA there are whole towns that are based on commonhold, including residential, commercial and retail properties.

Property experts believe that the introduction of commonhold in the UK could help overcome many of the problems associated with large scale residential developments, especially tower blocks.

Some developers are already putting commonhold principles into effect.

One, The Lifebuilding Company, part of the Wilcon Homes group, is building the UK's first commonhold development, but under current legislation.

Its 412 home development in Northampton, called St James, will have a community trust and already has a full time community trust administrator.

Sales director Suzanne Irons said: 'Research has shown that the one key element purchasers consider when buying a home is the neighbourhood it is in.

'By using commonhold principles at St James, we are introducing a framework for the neighbourhood to evolve quickly, and in a structured way.

'Wherever commonhold is used, whether in an apartment or a house, it will give residents a sense of community as they have a real say in the neighbourhood in which they live.'
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 16, 2002
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