Protection for Homebuyers

Part of Treasury Committee – in Westminster Hall at 3:36 pm on 13th December 2018.

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Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:36 pm, 13th December 2018

There are discussions going on about commonhold. I will be happy to talk to my hon. Friend about this offline.

Our technical consultation on how to improve the leasehold market and make it fairer for consumers has now closed, and we are analysing the responses. We want to see developers support everyone who has onerous ground rents, including second-hand buyers, and for customers to be proactively contacted. We are helping existing leaseholders by making it easier and quicker for leaseholders to form residents’ and tenants’ associations. We are proposing a single, mandatory and legally enforceable code of practice covering letting and managing agents, giving people a clearer and simpler route to redress. We are publishing a how-to-lease guide for consumers and looking carefully at how we currently give support and advice to leaseholders.

Mrs Hodgson was very interested in educating leaseholders. We are publishing the how-to-lease guide, which will educate leaseholders. We have also held workshops with the industry to develop the how-to-buy and how-to-sell guides, which will be published in 2019.

The hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse asked about leasehold reforms. LEASE, the group that we use to help give information, is unambiguously on the side of leaseholders. LEASE no longer pursues any commercial interests and it does not advise leasehold professionals. [Hon. Members: “Good.”] Yay—I just had a good. Get that in Hansard—sorry, I shouldn’t say that.

The hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West asked about permission fees. Lord Best has a working group that is considering permission fees and whether they are reasonable or they should be banned in total.

Justin Madders mentioned the £10 ground rent. For a peppercorn to exist there must be a consideration of exchange of money. We are concerned that peppercorn could be open to abuse and therefore we have considered that an amount should be specified in statute. We have chosen £10 because that is the annual amount used for right to buys.[This section has been corrected on 21 January 2019, column 1MC — read correction]