Leaseholds on new-build houses would be outlawed, while ground rents could be dramatically reduced, under government plans subject to public consultation.
Ground rents can double every decade, crippling home owners and in some cases making a property impossible to sell.
"Enough is enough. These practices are unjust, unnecessary and need to stop," said Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
The proposals, which are subject to an eight-week consultation, apply only to England.
Mr Javid said that there were 1.2 million cases of houses on leasehold, and the situation of escalating costs was one example of a "broken housing market".
He said the proposals would affect future sales, but those already facing difficulties would generally need to seek redress from the housebuilder or, if the situation was not made clear at the point of sale, their solicitor.
"Builders and developers should be seeing what they can do to right some of the wrongs of the past," he told the BBC's Today programme.
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