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

Or pink—yes, please—or green; we could have green pepper as well. This poor Hansard writer, dearie me.

I recognise that many freeholders have to pay charges toward the maintenance and upkeep of communal areas on an estate. That is especially prevalent on new estates, exactly as the hon. Member for Blaydon mentioned. Freeholders who are unhappy about the transparency of those charges are becoming an increasingly frequent part of my ministerial postbag, and I understand why they are unhappy. Leaseholders have a whole suite of protections and rights that enable them to hold management companies to account, but freeholders have no such equivalent, even though they may be paying for the same or similar services.

The Government agree that the current situation is unfair to freeholders, and we are committed to legislating to plug that gap. We have set out our proposed approach to implementing those measures in part 4 of the recent leasehold reform consultation, which closed on 26 November. We intend to create a new statutory regime for freeholders, based on the rights enjoyed by leaseholders, which will ensure that maintenance charges must be reasonably incurred and services provided of an acceptable standard, and include a right to challenge the reasonableness of charges at the property tribunal.