The Government is being urged to undertake an in-depth review of residential property legislation, in a bid to both stamp out dodgy leasehold deals and help home-buyers speed up conveyancing.
Following consultation with the Law Society, the Legal Sector Group which includes the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, has published an eight-point plan which it is calling on the government to introduce. The initiative includes measures to reduce the potential for leasehold abuse, as well as ways to speed up the conveyancing process and remove unreasonable costs.
The Group is also calling for freehold management or lease administrators to be required to be members of a redress scheme and is campaigning for more transparent information to be made available in leasehold property marketing, including the remaining term of the lease, ground rent, rent review clauses, annual service charges and any fees which could be imposed following the sale of the property.
Simon Law, chair of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, said it was ‘gratifying’ that the legal profession had come together to deliver a common set of proposals for the Government and Law Commission to consider.
He said: “There is no individual or party better placed than those legal professionals who serve their clients day in and day out in buying and selling leasehold properties to architect the much-needed reforms set out in these proposals.”
Former Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell, who has recently been appointed as Downing Street Chief of Staff, has said that he is keen to help improve leaseholders’ experience of home ownership.
Nicola Tubbs, an Associate Executive and conveyancing expert with Palmers said: “We have previously highlighted instances of widespread dodgy leasehold deals which have been dubbed by MPs as both ‘a national scandal’ and the ‘PPI of the housebuilding industry.’
“Instances of housebuilders selling on the freehold to a third party who are then free to ramp up ground rent fees is sadly neither uncommon nor illegal.
“House-buying is one of the most stressful purchases people make so we very much hope that the Government will introduce reforms to make the process both transparent and fair.
“In the meantime, it is important to note that, as a leaseholder, you are legally entitled to buy your freehold after two years and if you and the freehold owner cannot agree a price, a tribunal will decide how much you should pay.”
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