Housing Secretary Michael Gove has made a series of announcements which are likely to have a major impact on the property market. Here Maunder Taylor, property dispute advisors in Potters Bar and across Hertfordshire and North London, outline the most important of them.
Mr Gove, whose full title is Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said that it was time to end the’feudal’ and ‘unfair’ leasehold system.
Following recent Government legislation, it’s now illegal to build new homes and sell them as leasehold properties (although that doesn’t yet extend to flats and existing houses). It will also become much easier for leaseholders to buy a share in the freehold (particularly in blocks of flats) and effectively grant themselves longer leases.
However, Mr Gove’s new proposals, outlined in the House of Commons at the end of January, wish to increase tenants’ rights even further. They include:
- Landlords having a greater responsibility for meeting the cost of repairs, such as unsafe cladding.
- Greater transparency over leaseholder fees, particularly when it comes to insurance.
- Making it even easier for tenants to buy their freehold, particularly if their flat is situated over a shop or other commercial premises.
- Banning landlords from recovering their legal costs from leaseholders when they lose service charge disputes.
The proposals will now go out to consultation to stakeholders and interested parties. Mr Gove said the Government aimed to introduce the relevant legislation in the final parliamentary sessions of this calendar year.
Mr Gove also made some additional announcements on who will bear the cost of replacing unsafe cladding. It follows on from the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, when 72 residents lost their lives after combustible cladding on the outside of the building failed to halt the spread of the flames.
On January 30, he told the House of Commons that he was imposing a six-week deadline on developers and housebuilders to sign a contract that forces them to fix any unsafe buildings – which will include ensuring that all cladding is no longer a fire hazard. Any developers who fail to sign up to the scheme by March 13 will face’significant consequences’, Mr Gove warned.
A Responsible Actors Scheme (RAS) will be created, which will allow Mr Gove to block developers who have not signed the contract or failed to comply with its terms from carrying out development and from receiving building control approval. “This will prevent them from operating as normal in the housing market for as long as they do not resolve the problems of the past”, he said.
This means developers will commit an estimated £2billion or more for repairs to buildings they developed or refurbished over the past 30 years. Together with the already-imposed Building Safety Levy, the industry is directly paying an estimated £5billion to make their buildings safe.
Maunder Taylor – Property Dispute Advisors in Potters Bar
At Maunder Taylor, we have represented tenants and landlords in a variety of situations. We advise on residential and commercial property (particularly in the area of investment opportunities, residential block management and property valuations in Greater London and the Home Counties). We also operate an estate agency based in Whetstone, and have an office in Potters Bar which deals with any residential management queries.
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