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Leasehold Reform Task Group Report released for Wales

Wednesday 17 July 2019

A Task and Finish Group, which included participation from NAEA Propertymark, has released its report on Residential Leasehold Reform.

The report has two main recommendations for estate agents. Firstly, to create an accreditation for estate agents to include minimum standards for information provided to purchases of leasehold. Secondly, estate agents to provide a new ‘How to buy and live leasehold’ guide with property particulars and ensure the correct detailed information are presented when advertising the property.

TASK AND FINISH GROUP REPORT

Other recommendations include introducing a ban on the unjustified use of leasehold in new build houses with potential exceptions. Ban onerous ground rents and where current levels are measured to be excessive implement the reduction of future ground rents to a nominal financial value.

There are also calls for the Welsh Government to establish a code of practice and accreditation scheme for managing agents on freehold estates as well as work with mortgage providers to require lending only on properties for which the managing agent is part of the accreditation scheme. The group would also like to see a feasibility study and impact assessment conducted on the effect of compulsory commonhold on the current stock of houses and flats.

Key tasks of the working group

The Task and Finish Group included residents’ groups, housebuilders, advice services, and housing professionals to consider different perspectives on leasehold. The key tasks of the work group were to:

  • Identify failings in the leasehold system
  • Consider and analysis existing industry codes of practice
  • Look at the options available to freehold homeowners
  • Improve education/training/ raising awareness 

A common theme highlighted is the difficulty consumers have in accessing accurate and current information on leasehold. To address the issue the Group recommended the development of a Welsh Government housing portal. It would create a single point of access to information for any person with a home in Wales where they will be directed to the right information by answering a few simple ‘high level’ questions.

Different options

It has also been recognised there is a much wider lack of knowledge about the different types of tenure/housing options which can lead to confusion and misuse. The Report outlines that consideration should be made in terms of a wider educational approach to housing knowledge, such as in schools through the Welsh curriculum.

In a written statement on the publication of the report Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government said: "We will also consider the recommendations from the Leasehold Reform Task and Finish Group to identify those actions we can take forward with immediate effect drawing on the ‘tools’ we already have at our disposal.”

WRITTEN STATEMENT

Commenting on the release of the report, Mark Hayward Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “It’s clear that change to the leasehold system in Wales is required to improve consumer experiences. The Task and Finish Group has identified key areas where reform is needed. NAEA Propertymark has worked with organisations across the sector to provide the Welsh Government with a constructive set of recommendations to take forward. At the heart of this is a need for greater education, knowledge and understanding from all sides. The challenge now is to implement change in a way that works with the industry, improves transparency and builds on existing good practice.”

The Report will now advise the Minister on leasehold reform including the reform of practices carried out by property agents. Further information will be provided in the Autumn.

Propertymark resources

NAEA Propertymark has worked closely with Leasehold Solutions, the National Leasehold Campaign and Leasehold Valuers, to raise awareness of the scandal, and to bring the latest leasehold advice to agents and consumers alike. To see NAEA Propertymark's lobbying work, view the Understanding Leasehold guide and more, you can click on the Leasehold Properties page below.

LEASEHOLD PROPERTIES