Housing 2019: Measures confirmed to tackle ‘unfair’ leaseholds

The Communities Secretary said that government are to return to ‘original plans’ to reduce ground rents on future leases to zero.

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Addressing delegates on the final day (27th June) of the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference in Manchester, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire confirmed government plans to sell all new build homes on a freehold basis.

He also launched a consultation on proposals for a New Homes Ombudsman and a call for evidence on plans to help private tenants “passport their deposit” to another landlord if they move.

Other policy confirmations included that of Homes England to renegotiate Help to Buy contracts with developers, to rule out the selling of new leasehold houses, except in “exceptional circumstances”.

To make the home buying process “quicker, easier and cheaper”, Brokenshire also confirmed that ministers will introduce a new time limit of 15 working days and a maximum fee of £200 for freeholders when providing leaseholders with the information needed to sell their home.

The measures announced today come as part of the government’s commitment to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020’s.

In his keynote address, the Communities Secretary went on to confirm that the government has committed to the funding of an extra 19 new garden villages across the UK, with the potential to deliver over 73,000 homes.

Speaking at the annual conference, Brokenshire also confirmed government proposals for new approaches to meeting the costs of the planning service to improve performance.

According to the Communities Secretary, only half of the governments annual spend of £1bn on all local authority planning functions is covered by fee income.

Following last years Autumn Budget, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has called on government to raise planning fees to cover the entire administrative cost of the planning application function for local authorities, adding that any additional revenue could be invested into “improving the speed and quality” of planning services.

On Brokenshire’s announcement, Richard Blyth, RTPI Head of Policy and Research said: “We are delighted that to see that Mr Brokenshire has taken note of our proposals, speaking yesterday of the government’s apparent willingness to look at ways in which a greater proportion of the costs of the planning service could be borne by applicants.

“The RTPI has been talking to its members and England Policy Panel on this topic and will be contributing to the forthcoming Accelerated Planning Green Paper. We look forward to working with the government on its proposals as the details are finalised.”

Brokenshire also opened the bidding process for £2bn in long term strategic partnerships to deliver affordable homes with funding available until March 2029.

Also confirmed was the launch of a consultation on redress for purchasers of new build homes and the New Homes Ombudsman – in shadow form – to “work closely” with the government to help build the future scheme of standards.

At a concluding Q&A session, Brokenshire also goes on to say that he is “confident” that the next Prime Minister will continue to have “the same commitment” to provide social housing, adding that he was “keen” to see the lifting of the HRA cap.

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