Residential tenancies—unfair practices
The government has released the outcome of its consultation on prohibiting the sale of new build leasehold houses, limiting ground rents and protecting leaseholders from possession orders. The consultation looked at a range of measures to tackle ‘unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold, in particular the sale of new leasehold houses and onerous ground rents’. It received over 6,000 replies. The government’s response focuses on a number of areas of concern, particularly around confusion over freehold ownership and inadequate protection for leaseholders. To combat this, it is proposing to put forward legislation to prohibit new residential long leases from being granted on houses.
On 21 December 2017, Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced that it will introduce measures including:
1. legislating to prevent the sale of new build leasehold houses except where necessary such as shared ownership
2. making certain that ground rents on new long leases—for both houses and flats—are set at zero
3. working with the Law Commission to support existing leaseholders and make the process of purchasing a freehold or extending a lease much easier, faster and cheaper
4. providing leaseholders with clear support on the various routes to redress available to them
5. a wider internal review of the support and advice to leaseholders to make sure it is fit for purpose in this new legislative and regulatory environment
6. making sure freeholders have equivalent rights to leaseholders to challenge unfair service charges
Residential tenancies—rogue landlords
The government has announced a raft of new measures that aim to crack down on bad practices, stamp out overcrowding and improve standards for those renting in the private sector. Subject to parliamentary clearance, landlords renting properties in England occupied by five or more people, from two or more separate households, will need to be licensed. The government has also set out details of criminal offences which will automatically ban someone from being a landlord (banning orders were introduced by the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and come into force in April 2018.
For more information on this aspect see: Housing and Planning Act 2016—which of the property provisions are in force?
The new measures were subject to consultation, with the majority of responses supporting the government’s proposals.