by Charles Oliver BSc MSc FRICS FAAV MEWI FCIArb, Associate Director, Associate Director
Concerns continue over new build houses being sold as leasehold.
The problem stems from onerous lease clauses that double the ground rent as often as every ten years. Consequently, this could make future selling or mortgaging impossible.
In many cases, buyers say they were also encouraged to use developers' recommendations for their conveyancing and mortgage broker.
Until recently, new houses have been sold freehold and some commentators have described this new departure as a profit boosting exercise that should be outlawed.
One developer, Taylor Wimpey, has already set aside £130m to compensate those affected by 'toxic' leases – often sold on to anonymous third or fourth parties whilst the ink is still wet on the contract.
The government has now been galvanised into action and proposes to outlaw 'unjust leases' on new houses.
Sajid Javid the Communities and Local Government Minister said "Enough is enough. These practices are unjust, unnecessary and need to stop. Our proposed changes will help make sure leasehold works in the best interests of homebuyers now and in the future."
The government will consult with the aim to make leases fairer by reducing ground rents to zero in order for them to "relate to real costs incurred". Plans include closing legal loopholes to protect leaseholders left vulnerable to possession orders.
Sarah Singer, a senior negotiator at Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, has been awarded the Best Letting Agent in Gillingham by allAgents in their 2017 People's Award for Customer Experience.
allAgents.co.uk is the UK's largest customer review website for the property industry where clients rate their letting agent depending upon the level of service they receive. Reviews comprise an overall ranking for the agency; responder's comments; agent's fees and the name of the negotiator that handled the transaction. allAgents then use the information when judging their annual awards.
Caxtons is delighted that Sarah has been rewarded in this way. Alan Stewart, Director & Head of Residential Lettings
& Property Management said that he is not at all surprised Sarah has received this accolade as she always goes out of her way to ensure that clients are provided with the best possible service.
Of 94 residential lettings and management property agents in the Canterbury, Kent area Caxtons is officially *number 1, having secured the most 'new instructions' in the 10-week period between 7th November 2016 and 17th January 2017.
According to latest statistics from Rightmove, with 294 instructions, Caxton beat its nearest registered rival into second place by a massive 120 more instructions. The total number of new instructions during the period was 611, meaning that Caxtons managed to capture almost 50% of the available 'new instruction' market.
In addition, and across the same time-period, Caxtons came top of the 'let agreed' table. Of the 66 registered residential lettings and management agents' offices in the area, Caxtons secured 89 of the 164 total residential properties let during that time – well in excess of 50% during what is traditionally a quiet season for moving home.
Duncan Reeves, Associate Director at Caxtons, said "We are delighted that both our Canterbury Student Lettings and Residential Lettings teams are reaping the rewards of all their hard work.
The past six months have been tough for the property sector, not only in Kent but country-wide. There has been much uncertainty following the referendum vote and new legislation has, and will, affect landlords and buy-to-let property. This means we, as residential lettings and management agents, have to be extremely diligent, professional, efficient and cost effective at what we do. And we not only have to please our landlord clients, but their tenants too.
"Kent is a lovely county to work and live in and Canterbury is a busy and desirable residential and university destination. At Caxtons we will continue to ensure we look after both landlords and tenants to the very best of our ability. And even if their time in Canterbury and the surrounding villages and towns in Kent is short, we will help them find - and hopefully enjoy - their new homes."
*Rightmove Intel Report statistics