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Welsh Government launch expert leasehold group

Friday 13 July 2018

The Welsh Government has established an ‘expert group’ of representatives from residents groups, housebuilders, advice services, and housing professionals to assess failings within the leasehold system in Wales.

Leasehold practices in England and Wales have come under close scrutiny in the past year after it emerged that house buyers were being charged exorbitant ground rents.

Now, Housing and Regeneration Minister Rebecca Evans has announced the formation of a task and finish group which will discuss how to address leasehold issues, producing materials to better explain how leasehold works, proposals for a voluntary code of practice for managing agents, and options for freehold home owners on private estates to challenge estate charges.

England consulted on the issue earlier this year - although no actual changes have as yet been introduced - and in March, the Welsh Government agreed a deal with major housebuilders which sees them no longer eligible for Help to Buy money if they sell houses as leasehold unless there is a “genuine reason” for doing so.

The group, made up of the Federation of Private Residents Associations, the Homebuilders Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and NAEA Propertymark, has been convened for up to two years and will prepare a report for the Minister next summer.

Rebecca Evans, Housing and Regeneration Minister, said: “We have seen widespread criticism of poor practice in the use of leasehold in Wales. We will not support practices which have a negative impact on homeowners, and I have already taken action to prevent the use of leasehold in new build houses in Wales.

“In terms of where we go next, these are complex issues, and I have asked a wide range of interested parties to advise me so that I can take well thought through and appropriate steps to address the wide and varied concerns that have been raised with me.”

Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “We’re pleased to be involved in this important project announced today by the Welsh Government. The leasehold sector is a big focus for us, and we’re pleased the Welsh Government is looking into it, and taking action to help the country’s most vulnerable homeowners.”