Is now the time for revolution? 

Death makes us question who we are, is the rule, and for more detail on that we can pass on the numbers of more qualified professionals. When it’s the death of a ruler, it makes us look again at the parts of us which are members of a collective, where we share certain beliefs and standards with others. So lose a queen and we’re all thinking about what it means to be a British subject. 

For many, particularly those in Antigua and Barbuda, it’s a time to think about change. But here in the UK there has been a lot of change of late, so let’s instead stick to our knitting and think about the property market. 

The UK is unique in a lot of ways and this is the source of many of its current political and socio-economic issues. But one of the ways in which it is most bizarre is in the way property is owned. As anyone who has ever tried to buy, say, a flat in or near central London and has, say, to pluck an example out of the air, a dog, will tell you that you can pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for a property, only to discover that you still have to adhere to the wishes of a landlord. Have you thought about dressing the dog up as a cat?

This is the point where people start talking about how there has never been a revolution in the UK and that this kind of thing is all our fault and we should grow more backbones and get the burning stakes out. Many historians will claim that, in fact, we have had a revolution and that’s how we have a constitutional monarchy and can vote and whatnot.

Revolutionary hair splitting or not, the crux of the matter is that there remain huge tracts of property where it is not possible to own that property outright. Property owned by huge estates which go, well, all the way back. For the British, who are the masters of cobbling together a solution, this needn’t be a block to a thriving property market, as we have seen.

Most-recently, Crimson Hotels acquired The Trafalgar St. James from L&R Hotels, for a reported £130m. The hotel comprises 131 rooms and is operated under a Curio Collection franchise with Hilton, and is subject to a long leasehold with the Crown Estate. Questions about dogs and how welcome they might be were unanswered at the time of writing, but it sure does have a nice rooftop bar.

The sector works with scenarios such as leases, which come with a lot of responsibility but no ultimate ownership, because it has to. Because ownership is often – when held up against a monarchy – short term. Because there are still opportunities to add value. Because people need sites in central London.

There is reform, if not revolution, in the air regarding the lease system, but it is slow moving. As it would be, given the stakeholders involved. And the hotel sector has already worked the lease model into its system, embracing it around the world. 

But things could be simpler. Are we calling for the guillotine and the barricades? No. But a bit of modernisation wouldn’t go amiss. 

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