SDLP Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin has urged finance minister Conor Murphy to introduce legislation to remove the right of absentee ‘freeholders’ to levy yearly charges on homeowners in Northern Ireland.
She has raised the problem after many homeowners in Derry received letters demanding payment of annual ‘ground rent’ that they were not expecting and did not know they were required to pay.
McLaughlin said: “The freehold property system is feudal, dating back centuries and, according to written demands received by my constituents, requires annual payments to an absentee property owner. That property owner does nothing other than take the payments, based on inherited land ownership.
“I am calling on finance minister Conor Murphy to introduce legislation to remove this feudal land system, as has been recommended for England and Wales by the Law Commission. This is an important issue for my constituents in Derry and I am disappointed at the weak response by the minister to my written question.”