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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Buying reform continues despite Cabinet chaos; leasehold uncertainty remains

A senior member of the Home Buying and Selling Group has insisted work on reforms is ongoing despite the ministerial merry-go-round in the background.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had just one minister amid mass resignations across the government last week.

Michael Gove was sacked as Housing Secretary and replaced by Greg Clark while housing minister Stuart Andrew quit and Marcus Jones has been appointed in his place.

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But Tim Main, chair of the Home Buying and Selling Property Logbook Working Group, insists it has been business as usual.

He said: “There is nothing to delay any development at this stage.  

“Having had 11 Housing ministers in 10 years we would not get anywhere if we kept stopping to see who the new minister was and their direction of travel. We have great support from the ministry, so we all keep going.”

However, leasehold campaigners are uncertain about the future for further reforms after Gove had made fast process on issues such as cladding repairs and banning ground rents. 

Campaigners are still awaiting long-awaited pledges of support for existing leaseholders such as on extending leases and buying freeholds.

Katie Kendrick, of the National Leasehold Campaign (NLC) group, said: “Gove was the most pro-leaseholder housing secretary since Sajid Javid, who started the ball rolling on this agenda in 2017, commissioning the Law Commission reform programme and committing to zero ground rents and banning leasehold houses.

“It isn't surprising we can't get the desperately needed leasehold reforms through parliament when ministers aren't in position long enough to implement the reforms.

“It is really frustrating that we have had 12 housing ministers and numerous secretary of states for housing in the past 12 years. We need commitment and consistency to ensure the promised reforms are delivered and not kicked further down the road.  

“Leaseholders hope that Greg Clark can be brought up to speed quickly and will assist anyway we can.  Leaseholders have had far too many delays and with every delay more and more leaseholders are left feeling powerless fighting a real life David V Goliath battle with no current way out in a tenure that is stacked against them.”

She said the NLC will continue to work with anyone and any party to ensure leasehold continues to be at the top of the political agenda to ensure the second part of the legislation to help existing leaseholders is delivered as promised.

Kendrick added: “We are not trying to recreate the wheel and this isn't a case of having to start from scratch. The leasehold reform work has been done. There is an incredible team of civil servants who have been working on this for years.  What we need is a government who will deliver the work already completed through to the end.”

Sebastian O'Kelly, of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, added: “Even with this government we finally made progress with curtailing leasehold scams and limiting voracious appetite of the UK's irresponsible and often unaccountable - think Grenfell inquiry - property capitalism

“We finally made some progress even with this government to stop the UK's irresponsible and often unaccountable - think Grenfell inquiry - property capitalism from wiping out poorer home owners and first-time buyers over cladding and assorted leasehold scams.

“This was thanks to Gove and Lord Stephen Greenhalgh. They at last understood that the property interests which now so disproportionately fund the Conservative party are at odds with the party's sole important housing policy: to increase home ownership. Will their successors?”

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