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Update: Housing secretary confirms new build leasehold ban and builder code of conduct

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  • 27/06/2019
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Update: Housing secretary confirms new build leasehold ban and builder code of conduct
Housing secretary James Brokenshire has confirmed measures to stop developers selling leasehold homes through the Help to Buy scheme, including a mandatory code of conduct for house builders involved in the government scheme.

 

Brokenshire, in post for just over a year, is also announcing plans for a New Homes Ombudsman to give buyers of new-build properties greater protection.

This follows a stinging attack on house builders in March at an industry conference where he said: “For most people, buying a home is one of the biggest financial and emotional investments of their lives. And for that to go from being a cherished dream to becoming a nightmare of snagging problems months after moving in and punitive costs is simply unacceptable.”

A Times interview this morning outlined the policy work completed by the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government in the last year.

This has included lifting the housing revenue account cap to help councils to build thousands of homes; the abolition of so-called no-fault section 21 evictions revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework.

Brokenshire could be out of a job shortly with a cabinet reshuffle likely after the leadership election and apparently likely appointment of Boris Johnson.

He said: “There is thought that is being applied as to how we can make this [enforcing better build quality standards] work effectively with the refresh of Help to Buy post-2021 to ensure that there is that focus and people will know that there is the right for redress and equally to ensure that we are dealing with some of these quality standards upfront.”

However, he said the deadline for the end of the scheme is still 2023.

 

Policy update

 

In a speech made later today, Brokenshire confirmed all new-build houses, not just Help to Buy will be sold as freehold.

The MP also confirmed plans to reduce ground rents for new leases to zero  and to stop freeholders and managing agents taking as long as they want – and charging what they want – to provide leaseholders with the vital information they need to sell their home, ministers will introduce a new time limit of 15 working days and a maximum fee of £200 to make the home buying process quicker, easier and cheaper.

If buyers are incorrectly sold a leasehold home – saddling them with a property that could ultimately prove difficult to sell – consumers will be able to get their freehold outright at no extra cost.

Brokenshire said: “Today I can confirm we will go ahead with our original plan to reduce ground rents on future leases to zero, as opposed to a cap of £10 per year.”

 

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