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New leasehold guidance from NTSEAT

Tuesday 29 January 2019

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency (NTSEAT) team has released a guide for consumers seeking redress for leasehold matters.

The comprehensive 17-page guidance document aims to clarify what a leasehold is and what it means to own a leasehold property. The guidance will help consumers make an informed decision if they are planning to purchase a leasehold property, as well as understand their rights and how to get redress.

The guidance provides example scenarios and instances where consumers can lodge a complaint under the Consumer Protections from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPUTs), along with a glossary of common terms, such as ground rent, event fees etc.

Whilst the guidance is aimed at consumers, it is useful for estate agents too as it provides a valuable insight from the consumers perspective, and highlights the sort of information which is important to them, but which agents can often take for granted, assuming that people already know.  

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said:

“This Government is determined to reform the leasehold sector to better support homeowners, including improving support available to existing leaseholders.

“That’s why we have asked NTSEAT to produce this new guidance, which will help ensure that people understand their rights and responsibilities as leasehold property owners, including how to make a complaint if something goes wrong.”

Our own research is referenced by NTSEAT which shows that often, buyers of leasehold houses didn't understand what being a leaseholder meant, and an even larger percentage felt like they had been mis-sold their property. 

In our consultation response to the 2018 leasehold enquiry, we said that the Government must ensure that developers no longer build on land when they do not own the freehold. Secondly, the Government should amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 to extend the right of first refusal to houses.

Escalating ground rents are also a massive concern. The Government should prevent doubling of ground rents and ban ground rents where they increase above inflation for existing leaseholders. They should also set ground rents at zero on all newly established leases. We also advocate that associated costs must be explicitly advertised to consumers, particularly in the case of ‘event fees’. We support the Law Commission’s proposal for a standard disclosure document 18 detailing any fee payable on certain events.

Download the guidance