“National scandal”: Plans to ban leaseholds on new-build houses in England


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SUPPORTIVE: Communities Secretary Sajid Javid says “enough is enough”

SUPPORTIVE: Communities Secretary Sajid Javid says “enough is enough”

 

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the terms of some leases "were becoming increasingly onerous".

"Unfair charges" levied on buyers of new-build houses could be banned in England under a proposed crackdown.

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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The leasehold system has existed for a long time in England and Wales, especially in blocks of flats.

Leaseholders own their homes for a fixed period of time, on a "lease" to a freeholder, but many have long leases, for example for many decades, and experience no problems.

Traditionally houses have nearly always been sold as freehold properties, meaning the buyer owns the building and land it is built on outright.

But the trend for new-build houses being sold as leasehold has accelerated in recent years.

The government said the trend of new leasehold houses was a particular problem in the north-west of England.

Leaseholders typically pay ground rent to the freeholder, but can be caught out by clauses allowing for dramatic increases in these fees, which come on top of management charges for the upkeep of communal areas.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the terms of some leases "were becoming increasingly onerous".

MPs have described the situation as a "national scandal" and the "PPI of the housebuilding industry".

The DCLG said its proposals aimed to make future leases fairer by reducing ground rents so they "relate to real costs incurred".

About 21% of private housing in England is owned by leaseholders, with 30% of those properties houses rather than flats, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

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