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Communities secretary slams ‘broken’ housing market

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  • 29/03/2017
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Communities secretary slams ‘broken’ housing market
Communities secretary Sajid Javid has branded the housing market “broken” and urged house builders to improve business practices for which there were “no excuse”.

Javid said he was helping the industry to get on and build homes but that the industry also needed to address matters itself including improving leaseholds and new-build quality.

Speaking at the Home Builders Federation policy conference, Javid said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the housing market is broken.

“I know not all of you agree with that view. But as far as I’m concerned, any market that stops people accessing a basic human need cannot be said to be working.

“If the price of water was so high that people could not afford to drink, nobody would argue that the system was functioning as it should.”

 

Hurting people and the economy

He acknowledged that the lack of safe, secure affordable housing was hurting British people, harming the economy, and was the biggest barrier to social mobility in the UK today.

As part of this, Javid admitted that governments for decades had failed to build enough new houses to meet the demand, but that he was tackling this with the Housing White Paper.

“I can’t force you to build more homes,” he said.

“But what I can do is make it as easy as possible for you to build more. I can remove the barriers, I can unblock the system, I can speed things along.

“In short, I can take away the reasons you may have not to build.”

 

Get your house in order

However, he highlighted that builders needed to get their own house in order too – particularly where the quality of new-build properties was concerned.

“We’re doing a lot to help your industry. And, in return, we do expect to see action,” he said.

“It’s fair to say that new builds don’t always have the best reputation for quality.

“This isn’t a new issue.…..but it’s a problem for which, in 2017, there’s really no excuse.

“And if it’s not solved, it risks undermining public confidence in new-build homes – something that would be bad for the sector and really bad for the country as a whole,” he added.

 

Feudal terms leaseholds

Another area targeted by Javid was the unnecessary use of leaseholds on new build properties and the communities secretary said he would take action by restricting Help to Buy equity loans.

“I’m hearing about more and more cases where developers are selling newly-built houses on a leasehold basis for no obvious reason,” he said.

“And I’m hearing about more and more cases where ground rent is being used in an entirely unjustifiable and unfair way.

“So I will look to ensure Help to Buy Equity Loans are only used to support new-build houses on acceptable terms.

“This will send a serious message to the building industry: if you want the government to help you build and sell homes, you have to sell them on fair terms,” he added.

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