THOUSANDS of people in Bolton have been affected by the leasehold scandal, but what does this really mean?

Leasehold arrangements mean homes are bought but leased, rather than entirely owned. Although they most commonly apply to flats, they can also apply to houses.

As well as ground rent, leaseholders often also pay service charges to the freeholder or marketing agent, and are locked in contracts forcing them to seek permission to make basic alterations or build extensions which require no planning permission.

Across the North West, almost 47,000 new-build homes have been sold as leasehold over the past eight years, the highest number in any region outside London.

And in the North West, a higher proportion of leasehold ‘homes’ are houses compared to any other region in England; almost two-thirds of new build leasehold homes sold in the region over the last eight years were houses.

In 2016, in the Bolton South East constituency, an estimated 73 per cent of houses were sold as leasehold, the second highest proportion in England and Wales.

The number of those sold in Bolton North East stands just a fraction less, at an estimated 72 per cent.

And the picture is not much rosier in Bolton West, where 60 per cent of houses were sold as leasehold, the 12th highest proportion.

The growing scandal has galvanised political and community-based opposition determined curtail the sale of leaseholds and keep homeowners and prospective buyers informed, including the National Leasehold Campaign ­— founded by Jo Darbyshire from Lostock, Bolton.

READ MORE: Leasehold campaigner sues conveyancing solicitor

The Labour Party and others have additionally called on the government to launch an inquiry into what they are describing as a ‘national scandal’.

The campaign is being led by Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP, who raised the issue in the House of Commons at the end of last year.

In recent months Bolton MP’s voices have joined those calling for action to prevent the sale of leaseholds, protect homeowners and help those affected by the scandal.

Last year, the government set out plans to ‘ban new-build houses being sold as leasehold as well as restricting ground rents to as low as zero’.

Under the ban, flats can still be sold as leasehold, but ground rents will be restricted to a ‘peppercorn’ level and therefore be of little financial value to speculative buyers.