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Government commits to "fix the dysfunctional housing market"

Despite press speculation, today's Queen's speech was not all about Brexit.

On the housing front, the government has pledged to bring forward proposals to help ensure more homes are built. These were set out in the white paper, published earlier this year, which included measures to:

  • Release more land for homes where people want to live;
  • build the homes we need faster;
  • get more people building homes; and
  • support people who need help now.

Leasehold reform, in particular in relation to onerous ground rents, is also on the agenda, with the government has committing to review the leasehold market.

Recent press coverage has highlighted the unjust situation of purchasers of houses on long leases, rather than a straightforward freehold sale, who have been left paying onerous ground rents. The government will launch a consultation with a view to promoting transparency and fairness for leaseholders. This could lead to developers being unable to sell houses by way of a lease - the position in some other jurisdictions.  Even without legislative reform, we may see an increase in lenders' unwillingness to provide finance for the purchase of leasehold houses, and for leases with onerous ground rents.

Although the detail is not yet available, it is clear that housing remains a priority for the government.  We will continue to monitor and report on developments.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

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