Ensuring leaseholders get more of a fair deal

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has published the government’s response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s report into the way leasehold properties are managed.

He said he wanted to ensure anyone looking to buy a leasehold home, and those who have already done so, are clear about their rights and what to expect from agents who manage their property.

Measures have already been taken to cap the leasehold charges councils can charge – plans released on Monday will give those buying properties managed by private companies confidence they are getting a fair service. 

Mr Pickles said: “We’re determined anyone who works hard and wants to buy their own home has the opportunity to do so.

“For many first-time buyers that means buying a leasehold home, and I want to be sure anyone taking that first step on the property ladder can do so confidently and know the full extent of the financial commitment – and what they can expect for their money.

“The report by the Competition and Markets Authority highlighted ways in which we can do this, and our plans will shine a light on the whole market, so people know their rights and the service they should receive, and where to go if they get a raw deal.”  

Helping aspiring homeowners is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan – the number of first-time buyers is at a seven year high and since 2010 nearly 204,000 households have bought or reserved a new home through government-backed schemes.

This figure is set to rise with the introduction of a new Help to Buy ISA, helping people save up that much-needed deposit to get on the property ladder.

Managing agents are now required to belong to one of three redress schemes so leaseholders have somewhere to go if they have a complaint – and could receive compensation.

Mr Pickles confirmed the government is working with the Leasehold Advisory Service, National Association of Estate Agents and the Law Society to develop a new information leaflet to ensure that prospective purchasers are able to make informed decisions.

As part of this work, the existing standard set of questions, which can be used by solicitors in the conveyancing process for a leasehold property will be examined again by the Law Society in light of the Competition and Markets Authority’s study.

And by April 2016, industry Codes of Practice will be revised to set out more clearly the best practice property managers should adopt when managing a leasehold property.

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