On June 27th 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that all new-build houses in the UK will be sold as freehold (unless there are exceptional circumstances) in a strong step forward in tackling unfair practices and protecting future homeowners from exploitative arrangements. The plans aim to drive cash into the pockets of the homeowner rather than banks and property development companies. This shows the commitment from the government, they strive to provide 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s. The Communities Secretary has opened the bidding process for £2 billion in strategic partnerships to ensure that additional affordable homes with funding available until March 2029. To prevent freeholders and managing agents taking as long as they want, and charging what they want, to provide leaseholders with the vital information they require to sell their home there will also be a new time limit of 15 working days and a maximum fee of £200.

Where buyers are able to establish they have been incorrectly sold a leasehold house – saddling them with a property that could ultimately prove difficult to sell – they will be able to get their freehold outright at no extra cost.

Many first time buyers now use the Help To Buy Scheme. New measures will be implemented to prevent developers from being able to sell leasehold houses, other than in exceptional circumstances, through the scheme.  However, the ban will not be applied retrospectively, and flats can still be sold as leasehold.

There are also plans to ensure fairness to those in rented housing. Ministers are welcoming proposals to make housing more accessible to renters. They plan to achieve this by introducing new ways for renters to transfer deposits directly between landlords when moving into a new property from a rented one.

In addition to these plans, an extra 19 garden villages are being planned across the UK. This has the potential to create 73,554 homes in total. Government funding totals £2.85 million in support of the development of plans for housing spanning the entire country. Each project will receive £150,000 to start planning applications and reports that are required before homes are built. The projects include a dementia-friendly village at St George’s Barracks, Rutland. This allows the elderly to live safely and maintain independence within their homes.

In an effort to cut bureaucracy from the system, councils will now be able to approve applications for planning more quickly under bold new measures. The new accelerated planning green paper is due to be published later this year and aims to improve the planning process on a large scale.

For more information on this get in touch with Associate Solicitor at BRR Law, Stephen Dettman at StephenDettman@brrlaw.co.uk