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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Conveyancers want more transparency in leasehold transactions

The Conveyancing Association has set out recommendations to end what it claims are significant delays and overcharging taking place within the leasehold transaction process.

The association says there is a growing number of leasehold transactions taking place each year across all UK regions – 260,000 in 2015 up from 220,000 in 2011, according to the Land Registry – with 57 per cent of all transactions in Greater London and 40 per cent in the North West being for leasehold properties.

Now the body has released details of a leasehold survey of conveyancers which shows  56 per cent saying they believe lease administrators often charge unreasonable fees. It says administrators are charging between £250 and £360 per hour for administrative work, far in excess of what conveyancers and customers might expect those charges to be.

Some 62 per cent of estate agents questioned say the provision of leasehold sale information causes real issues in the house-moving process, with 34 per cent branding it ‘an absolute nightmare’.

The association also alleges that there is also often a duplication of costs with leaseholders required to pay multiple parties to complete their LPE1 (Leasehold Property Enquiry) form, and that there is no redress system available to existing or incoming leaseholders with no effective consumer rights and no recourse to the Ombudsman given its lack of jurisdiction over costs - unless, that is, the complaint is in respect of a breach of agreement for those costs.

So the Conveyancers Association wants to see an update to the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 to include all administrative payments to lease administrators by any party to be a reasonable fee and these fees should not be duplicated were there are multiple administrators.

It also wants any lease administrator providing this service to be a member of one of the three existing property redress schemes.

“Now is the time to develop a much fairer system, with transparent and reasonable costs, as well as an obligation to provide the data required within a 20-day timescale. The extortionate costs being levelled by some coupled with a distinct lack of motivation to provide the necessary information means action has to be taken” says an association spokeswoman. 

  • Rob Hailstone

    As recently reported recently in the Law Society Gazette:

    “The government has ruled out forcing landlords of leasehold properties to belong to a redress scheme, dealing a blow to conveyancers seeking urgent reform of leasehold legislation.

    Department for Communities and Local Government minister Lord Bourne said the government ‘is not persuaded that more burdensome approaches to regulate landlords would be effective’.”

    This is a blow to conveyancers, but a bigger blow to the sellers of leasehold properties.

    There appears to be no joined up thinking. The government with its ‘Better Deal’ initiative wants to speed up, simplify and make conveyancing cheaper. Listening to the CA, and acting on some of the suggestions, would have been one step closer to achieving those aims.

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    What was also worrying about the recent response to questions raised by Baroness Hayter is the mistaken belief by the DCLG that there is a redress scheme in place when items such as notice of assignment, deed of covenant and certificates of compliance fall outside of the jurisdiction of the First Tier Tribunal due to a loophole in the drafting of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act.
    It also ignores the fact that there is no legislation on timescales which is why the leasehold process takes on average 4 weeks longer. A simple amendment to the Act and implementation of a standardised fee scale and time scales and it would be sorted.

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