Leasehold axed for all new houses in move to place fairness at heart of housing market

  • Pernicious ground-rents on new leases to be reduced to £0 – preventing leaseholders being charged soaring fees for which they receive zero benefit
  • All new houses to be sold on freehold basis unless there are exceptional circumstances – ending unscrupulous practice of unnecessary leaseholds
  • Immediate action to ban Help to Buy being used to support leasehold houses – stopping taxpayers’ money being used to fund unjustified sale of leasehold houses

All new-build houses will be sold as freehold in a bold move to tackle unfair leasehold practices and prevent future home-owners from being trapped in exploitative arrangements, the Communities Secretary said today (27 June 2019).

In a wide-ranging speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP confirmed plans to abolish the selling of new houses as leasehold properties and reduce ground rents for new leases to zero – putting cash back into the pockets of future homeowners.

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.

The Secretary of State has also instructed Homes England to renegotiate Help to Buy contracts to explicitly rule out the selling of new leasehold houses, other than in exceptional circumstances, to protect new home buyers from unscrupulous charges.

And where 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.

The measures announced today demonstrate the government’s commitment to ensure decent and fair housing for the people and communities that need them, as it strives to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Other important proposals unveiled include new proposals to make it easier for renters to transfer deposits directly between landlords when moving; extra funding for 19 new garden villages; and radical new measures to speed up planning applications.

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