All posts by Frances Traynor

The £2m London apartment that’s a prize draw

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You could become the proud owner of a £2 million London apartment in a prize draw that costs just a tenner a ticket.

Gatsby Property is raffling off a luxury renovated flat on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, with entries expected to close in June 2019.

The two founders of Gatsby Property – Harry Dee and Jonny Jackson – have been developing properties in London for five years.

Gap in the market

With sales in the capital starting to stutter thanks to a glut of properties on the market and affordability issues for potential buyers, the duo decided to take a different approach to offloading their latest project.

Jonny Jackson told the Evening Standard: “We felt like there was a real gap in the market at the top end, and our aim was to put our money where our mouth is and raffle off one of our own newly refurbished apartments in one of the capital’s most sought-after locations.”

Tickets are expected to go on sale imminently on Gatsby Property‘s dedicated payment platform Cadivus, priced at £10.

High-end refurbishment

The property itself is located opposite the Science Museum in South Kensington, close to Hyde Park and the V&A.

Having been completely refurbished from top to toe, the apartment has an open-plan living/cooking/dining space with a modern, en-suite master bedroom. The fixtures and fittings are from high end manufacturers and designers such as Camerich, Fired Earth, Lefroy Brooks and Buster & Punch.

Legal costs covered

In the prize draw, the developers will pay both stamp duty and legal fees, along with the first year of the service charge. The property is leasehold with 964 years remaining on the lease.

Once the draw is closed on a date yet to be decided, the winner will be drawn at random by compliance service Promo Veritas.

A minimum of 300,000 tickets need to be sold for the draw to go ahead. If that number is not reached, the winner will receive a cash prize instead.

Move to expand commonhold to reform the leasehold system

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Commonhold should become the easy alternative to leasehold ownership property in England and Wales, says the Law Commission.

As part of its review of leasehold, the Law Commission wants to simplify the way in which shared property owners, including flats, terraces and townhouses, can turn their development into commonhold tenure.

Tenure allows outright ownership

There are around 4.2 million leasehold properties in England alone, the majority of which are flats or apartments.

Under leasehold, the property owner must pay a lease for the land on which their home stands. That lease must be extended or renewed to ensure the property remains mortgageable, while the leaseholder must pay annual ground rent and maintenance charges to the landlord or freeholder.

Under commonhold, the property owner will own their home outright. They will form part of a limited company with the other owners in their development, which will raise the finance to maintain and insure the whole development.

That gives homeowners the security of knowing their home remains their own no matter what, while giving them control over costs.

Expert help on hand

At Capital Conveyancing, we work with a nationwide panel of expert conveyancing solicitors who can deal with your leasehold extension or your conversion to commonhold.

Professor Nick Hopkins, the law commissioner leading the review of leasehold, launched a public consultation on the move to simplify commonhold.

He said: “Commonhold provides a once in a generation opportunity to rethink how we own property in England and Wales and offers homeowners an alternative system to leasehold.

“It involves a culture change, moving away from an ‘us and them’ mindset towards ‘us and ourselves’.

“We want to hear what people think of our proposals so we can be sure the commonhold system will work for homeowners and the wider property sector.”

The consultation runs until March 10, allowing interested parties to have their say on leasehold and commonhold.

Law firms follow Capital Conveyancing in offering transparency on prices

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Law firms in England and Wales are to publish their pricing structure for services such as conveyancing and probate from next month.

New rules imposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority will give prospective clients more information on what services are likely to cost as well as an idea of how long their case should take to process from start to finish.

At Capital Conveyancing, we pride ourselves on always providing price transparency, guaranteeing our clients that there will be no hidden extras or unexpected costs when they instruct a conveyancing solicitor through us.

High standard of customer service

Our high standard of customer service is now being taken up by the SRA and will apply to law firms across England and Wales who are regulated by the SRA – at Capital Conveyancing, we only work with SRA-regulated solicitors.

The new rules will mean law firms must publish pricing for specific services on their website or make that information easily accessible to potential clients where they don’t have a website.

They must also provide a projected timescale for work so clients know how long the legal work is expected to take. Details of the qualifications of the legal staff working on cases will also be published, along with information on how to make a complaint.

Information benefits public

Each law firm will also carry a digital badge on their website to confirm they are regulated by the SRA.

Paul Philip, chief executive of the SRA, said: “Publishing information on price, services and protections will not only benefit the public but will also help those who deliver these services win business and connect with their customers.

“We are providing guidance and support for firms to assist with meeting the new requirements and making the most of the opportunities they bring.”

Property giant aims to build 4k homes across London

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The downturn in the retail sector could mean a boost to London’s housing stock. Landsec, which owns and manages a large number of offices, retail and leisure facilities in the capital, is to build more than 4,000 homes on some of its sites.

The property giant is to submit planning applications for schemes at Finchley Road and Shepherd’s Bush that would include 1,700 homes. There are further plans to add residential property to its site in Lewisham, which includes a shopping centre.

Exploring potential across capital

The Lewisham development would create a new town centre in the south London borough.

Landsec chief executive Robert Noel said: “We are exploring the potential at other locations in London.”

There is increased demand from home buyers for property in London and across the UK. At the same time much of the retail property sector is contracting.

Easier to convert retail to residential

Last month the Chancellor Philip Hammond addressed that situation in his Budget, announcing relaxation of planning regulations that will allow easier conversions of retail and commercial units into domestic residences.

The move by Landsec to build homes on their retail sites reflects the direction of travel for that type of land.

How housing types will change in the future

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Future populations will have some interesting types of housing to choose from, according to a new report from estate agent and property specialists Strutt & Parker.

Its 2018 Housing Futures report identifies the housing trends that are likely to influence buyers and sellers in the next few years.

Among them are what it refers to as the Yo-Ho House, a property that is specifically designed to meet the requirements of modern families.

Flexible accommodation

This type of home is flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances, such as children from previous relationships moving in or older relatives requiring a room. The Yo-Yo House will employ such innovations as moving walls to create different living spaces, easy access to pipes and cables to incorporate new technologies and the ability to divide the property into flats.

Adaptability is the key to a Yo-Ho House, and the property will evolve and change with its occupants over their lifetime stay in the home.

Housing Futures also looks at the “grey pound” – the financially secure older generation of homeowners – and how they are attracted to Platinum Places, mixed-tenure properties embedded in local communities. Platinum Places aren’t only for older people but also attract families, young couples and singletons.

According to the report, Platinum Places are rich in top-class amenities such as gyms and swimming pools, while also having easy access to cultural experiences such as theatres and farmers’ markets. And their attraction for older homeowners is that they can convert their property wealth into useable funds while “rightsizing” from a bigger home into accommodation more suited to their golden years.

Attractive living spaces

Another interesting property type that is expected to grow in popularity in coming years is a Micro Mansion. These tiny living spaces are aimed at people who want to live in the heart of a city but cannot afford typical flats or houses there.

With only 100-125 sq ft on offer, they are not long-term living destinations but attractive to those who are mobile when it comes to work or simply want to experience living in a particular spot.

Leasehold reform will ensure new-build properties sold as freehold

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Major reform is on the way to the leasehold property market in England. The Government is to ensure that the majority of new-build properties are now sold as freehold while also capping ground rent at a nominal sum.

With around 4.2 million leasehold properties in England alone, the new measures will have a wide-ranging effect.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire says the changes are intended to end the “unjustified selling” of new houses as leasehold.

The new measures will also work to make it faster, fairer and cheaper for leaseholders who want to buy their freehold.

Protecting homeowners

Leaseholders pay on average more than £300 a year in ground rent with some paying up to £700. One proposal from the Government is to cap ground rent at £10 a year.

There will also be support for leaseholders who want to form a tenant association to enforce their rights under the law.

Announcing a consultation on the proposals, Mr Brokenshire said: “The government is committed to making the economy work for everyone by helping people with the cost of living.

“Unfair ground rents can turn a homeowner’s dream into a nightmare by hitting them in the back pocket and making their property harder to sell.

“That’s why I’m taking concrete action to protect homeowners and end those unscrupulous leasehold practices that can cost tenants hundreds of pounds.”

Exhibition showcases modular homes possibilities in London

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The possibility for modular housing to help resolve the crisis of a lack of housing supply in the UK will be at the centre of a three-month exhibition in London.

The exhibition has been put together by New London Architecture (NLA), an independent forum for discussion, debate and information about architecture and construction in London. Accompanying that exhibition, which opens on October 9, is a series of events looking at how factory-made housing could benefit the capital.

NLA research has looked at how factory-made housing could revolutionise attitudes, processes and delivery to provide quality housing in London.

Innovative models of design

Experts in the field of modular housing manufacturing will discuss new and innovative models of design, construction and delivery at a number of events over the next three months. The exhibition itself is in the NLA galleries at the Building Centre in Store Street, central London, until January.

Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council is to launch a pilot scheme to deliver 50 homes that have been manufactured off-site.

The housing scheme will be built using both modular and volumetric solutions – volumetric building involves stacking and joining factory-built modules on site, while modular homes are often completed in a factory setting before being moved to their permanent site.

Birmingham trial project

Birmingham Municipal Trust, which is owned by the council, is to trial this project before a bigger programme of modular homes is rolled out in 2020. Work is expected to start in the spring with contractors invited to tender to build one of five pre-designed homes.

Modular homes are factory built using precision engineering. An entire home can be completed in weeks compared to the months required for traditional construction. Financial giant Legal & General, which is investing in a variety of housing programmes, has established a factory at Selby, near Leeds, with the capacity to build up to 3,000 modular homes every year.

1500 affordable homes on former Ford site in east London

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Up to half of the properties in a new 3,000-home development in east London will be genuinely affordable. The redevelopment of the former Ford site in south Dagenham was given the go-ahead by City Hall last month.

And Jules Pipe, the deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, confirmed permission for the site to be developed hinged on the developers, L&Q and Countryside, upping the number of affordable homes from 35 percent to 50 percent.

The site at Beam Park was once an assembly site for the car giant. Its future includes a new neighbourhood and railway station, two primary schools, a nursery, community facilities, retail and open spaces alongside 5,000 homes.

City Hall ‘called in’ decision

Beam Park is within the London Riverside Opportunity Area where up to 26,500 new homes and 16,000 new jobs are predicted to be delivered over the next decade.

As the site straddles two boroughs – Barking and Dagenham, and Havering – both had to agree to give planning permission. Barking and Dagenham gave the project the thumbs up, but Havering rejected the plan over concerns about the height of the proposed new buildings.

That meant City Hall “called in” the decision on whether the project would be given the go-ahead.

Crucial role in London’s economy

Mr Pipe said: “This is a large, very important site, and these plans will deliver 3,000 much-needed new homes, along with transport, schools and community facilities to help make this a liveable and attractive new neighbourhood for this part of east London.

“Having weighed up the evidence available to me and given the overall importance of the application, I have decided to grant approval.

“The wider area around Beam Park has the potential to deliver thousands of new homes and jobs, and could play a crucial role in London’s economy in the decades to come.”

Driverless cars could free up space to build 180k homes in London

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Driverless cars could free up enough space in London to build an extraordinary 180,000 new homes, according to a major new report.

Arcadis, a consultancy that looks at the built environment, says 15,500 acres of land in the capital would be released for other uses once more connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) – driverless cars – are on the streets of the capital.

Replace private vehicles

In its report, Citizens in Motion, Arcadis forecasts what’s ahead for 14 world cities, including London, when driverless vehicles become commonplace. In London, where there is both a growing population (predicted to grow by a 0.7 every year) and a diminishing housing supply, Arcadis says more than half of all households (54 percent) have at least one vehicle.

With a vast amount of space dedicated to providing parking for those vehicles and the many that commute into London daily, Arcadis suggests driverless vehicles could instead reduce or replace private cars and reduce congestion.

At the moment, there are 27.1 million passenger trips by vehicle every day in London, and more than 4 million people regularly use ride-sharing apps to get around. Removing private vehicles and the car parking areas needed to service them would theoretically create more places for residential development.

Key fork in road

Meanwhile, CAV is being tested in Greenwich as part of a trial led by the Transport Research Laboratory and the Government.

Peter Hogg, UK Cities director at Arcadis, said: “As London moves towards mega city status by 2040, mobility challenges will be ever present. How the city embraces CAV will be a key fork in the road, that will either enhance or frustrate city performance.”

Arcadis concludes that London’s mobility objectives should be: Transform London’s streets; improve public transport; create opportunities for new homes and jobs through encouraging more people to walk, cycle and use public transport by 2041.

Radical reform promises fairer deal for leasehold property owners

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The Law Commission is proposing a radical shake-up of the leasehold property system in England and Wales, describing the current system as “complex, slow and expensive”.

Launching a consultation paper on its proposals, Leasehold home ownership: buying your freehold or extending your lease, the commission is asking the public to add their voice to the conversation to ensure both freeholders and leaseholders are represented.

With an estimated 4.2 million leasehold properties in England, the majority of which are flats, leasehold is a thorny subject for millions of homeowners.

In leasehold, the homeowner only owns the property itself and not the land on which it stands. The freeholder retains ownership of the land and leases the land to the homeowner for a specific period of time, usually decades. When the lease is close to expiring, some property owners have faced charges of thousands of pounds for renewal.

The cost of buying out the freehold is also seen as prohibitive while also being a legal minefield. More than 50 Acts of Parliament govern leasehold, and the process of extending a lease or buying freehold is known as enfranchisement.

Making system easier and cheaper

Law Commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins said: “The current system is complex, slow and expensive, and it’s failing homeowners. Many feel they are having to pay twice to own their home.

“Our proposals would make it easier and cheaper to buy the freehold or extend the lease of their home, ensuring the system works for ordinary homeowners across the country.

“We want to hear views from across the spectrum on how this complicated area of law can be improved.”

The Law Commission now proposes:

  • Making the enfranchisement process easier, cheaper and quicker;
  • Improving and enhancing the rights of leaseholders to buy the freehold or extend a lease;
  • Introduce a simpler unified procedure for houses and flats;
  • Remove any limitations on the right to enfranchise – at the moment, leaseholders must have owned their property for two years before making a claim.

Capital Conveyancing has the answers to leasehold conveyancing

When it comes to dealing with leasehold properties in London, Capital Conveyancing has the city covered, working with the most experienced property lawyers across the capital. The conveyancing solicitors on our panel are experts in dealing with leasehold sale and purchase, leasehold extension and buying of freehold.

We’re standing by to answer any of your questions on 0207 406 5880 and we’re open seven days for your convenience. Or get an instant, no-obligation quote on the leasehold conveyancing services you require.

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