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.

New plan to speed up delivery of affordable homes in London

St Ann's Hospital site in Haringey

St Ann’s Hospital site in Haringey

New moves are underway to speed up the construction of new homes on public land in London.  The London Development Plan (LDP) brings together developers, housing associations and contractors who will work with boroughs and planning authorities to accelerate house building on land they own.

Three car parking sites in the borough of Harrow at Canons Park, Rayners Lane and Stanmore are among the first sites to be identified for the LDP. Owned by Transport for London (TfL), these sites will be developed to provide 100 percent affordable housing for Londoners, delivered in a much quicker timeframe.

Publicly owned land freed up

The NHS has also sold the site of St Ann’s Hospital in Haringey to City Hall, with plans for the site to be the centre of a residential development offering at least 50 percent genuinely affordable housing.

In the north of the capital, Enfield Council will deliver up to 725 new homes as part of Meridian One, a major development pushed through by LDP. Meridian One will include the Meridian Water station and 25,000 square feet of commercial space and leisure facilities, and at least 35 percent of the homes provided will be affordable.

The LDP is the latest part of the Mayor of London’s aim to deliver 65,000 new homes every year in the capital. Mayor Sadiq Khan believes freeing up publicly owned land can be the key to delivering on that promise.

Tackling the housing crisis

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing and residential development, said: “Public land has a vital role to play in tackling the housing crisis, and the new London Development Panel offers public land owners a quicker and more efficient way to bring their sites forward.

“We want to see it playing an important role in building the homes Londoners so desperately need.”

Londoners expect to rent for shortest time before buying first home

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Londoners spend the shortest amount of time renting a place before they buy their own home. According to new research, the average Londoner expects to spend around 12 years living in a rented home.

Across the whole of the UK, the average time expected to rent before buying is 15 years and two months.

More than 2,000 adults were quizzed by Opinium on behalf of landlord insurer Direct Line for Business.

The research, which revealed that, unsurprisingly, London has the highest proportion of renters of anywhere in the UK, its 2.7 million tenants making up a sixth of all renters in the UK.

Renters revealed that affordability is the main reason they stick with renting – in 2017, the UK’s first-time buyers paid on average £207,693 for their first property, more than twice the average price paid five years earlier of £138,663. That’s an increase of almost £70,000 or around £1,150 a month in five years.

Christina Dimitrov, business manager at Direct Line for Business, said: “The UK housing market continues to change, and we are seeing a major attitudinal shift when it comes to renting.”

Affordable homes at centre of new London property developments

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Future housing developments in London will have to include a minimum of 35 percent affordable housing to get fast-track planning permission. Sadiq Khan, the capital’s mayor, has announced the proposal as part of a housing strategy designed to provide 65,000 new homes a year across London for the next 10 years.

Mr Khan’s plans include prioritising development on brownfield sites and delivering genuinely affordable homes in London with the criteria that a household’s housing costs should not exceed 40 percent of its income.

Leaseholders offered advice

The mayor has also provided £1.67 billion in funding for London councils to build 10,000 new council homes over the next four years. Councils will be able to ringfence the money they receive when tenants exercise their right to buy their home and use that money to replace the social housing on a like-for-like basis.

The mayor’s housing strategy aims to build more homes; deliver genuinely affordable homes; provide high-quality homes and inclusive neighbourhoods; provide a fairer deal for private renters and leaseholders; and tackle homelessness and hep rough sleepers.

As part of the strategy, leaseholders in London are to be given better advice and greater support from City Hall when dealing with increases in ground rent and abuse of leasehold tenure. The Government has announced that newbuild houses should no longer be sold as leasehold, but many developments in London are flats and apartments, which will continue to be sold as leasehold.

London’s newest property hotspots identified

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Estate agent Knight Frank has identified eight property hotspots in London. And the good news for those keen to buy in the capital is that affordability is high among the reasons for those areas being chosen.

In its third Hotspots report, Knight Frank looked at several factors that make an area a target for buyers. They include upgrades to transport infrastructure, regeneration and areas where prices are lower than nearby neighbourhoods.

The eight hotspots are: Southall/Hayes; Camden Town; Wood Green; Lisson Grove; Canada Water; West Ham; Leyton; and Hackney Wick.

According to Knight Frank, London’s development landscape has changed in the two years since its last report, adding: “These changes have been triggered by political, economic and policy events – not least the vote to leave the EU and additional stamp duty.

“The new development hotspots identified feature a wider geographical spread than previous reports.

“In terms of values, the majority are localities where new-build developments are priced at sub-£800 psf [price per square foot] and most are also outside zone 1. This emphasises the changing landscape for development in London, with a greater focus on affordability.”

Crossrail expected to boost prices and development

The timeframe for the areas to become hotspots is 2018-21, which will cover the opening of Crossrail, the high-speed rail link that will improve London’s link with the south-east.

In Southall and Hayes, the current price per square foot is £600, forecast to be £750 psf by 2021. Crossrail trains will be running there by next year and developments are in the pipeline to take advantage of the new rail link.

Wood Green‘s current psf is £650, forecast to be £800 by 2021. More than £3 billion has been set aside for development in the area by Haringey council, including 7,700 new homes.

One of London’s hippest areas, Camden Town‘s current psf of £1,100 reflects its popularity. That psf is forecast to reach £1,500 in three years’ time. Redevelopment plans there include the Camden Lock Village, boosted by investment from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund and Camden Council.

Lisson Grove‘s proximity to Regent’s Park and St John’s Wood has marked it out as a property hotspot. Currently its psf is £1,400, potentially rising to £1,850 by 2021. Westminster Council is investing £1.2 billion over 20 years as part of its regeneration blueprint.

Regeneration plans already in place

South of the river, Canada Water will be boosted by the £2 billion Canada Water Masterplan that will include 3,500 new homes. The psf is £900 at the moment, rising to £1,250 in 2021 say Knight Frank.

In West Ham, the psf is present £700, estimated to hit £950 in the next three years. West Ham has been rezoned by Transport for London to Zone 2, saving commuters hundreds of pounds annually on fares. Its transport options include the Underground, Overground and DLR, while Crossrail will run from Stratford from next year.

Nearby Leyton has a psf of £675, forecast to rise to £800 by 2021. Its proximity to areas that have already been regenerated, including Westfield and the Olympic Park, make it the next area to be prioritised for population growth in Waltham Forest.

Also close to the Olympic Park, Hackney Wick is currently being regenerated as part of the London Legacy Development Corporation’s work. Its £700 psf in 2018 is predicted to be £850 in 2021. Its overground train station, connecting the area to Canary Wharf and the West End, will be transformed by a £25 million facelift.

London house price growth at lowest rate in a decade

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London’s house prices have slowed to their lowest annual growth rate in almost a decade. The capital’s sluggish property market is bucking the upward trend seen across the rest of the UK.

At just 1.0 annual price growth in the year to February 2018, London’s growth rate is the lowest since September 2009 when it was a negative 3.2 percent at the height of the credit crunch.

The latest figures from the UK House Price Index compiled by the Office for National Statistics and the Land Registry showed that average house prices in the UK rose by 4.4 percent in the year to February, down from 4.7 percent on January. The average house now costs £225,000 ­– £242,000 in England, £153,000 in Wales, £144,000 in Scotland and £130,000 in Northern Ireland.

However, London house prices dropped by 1.0 percent in the year to February, a slowdown that began in mid-2016 and one that means the average home in the capital now costs ££471,986, down more than £16,000 from its July 2017 high of £488,247.

Capital outstripped by other regions

While London house prices are on average much higher than elsewhere in England and indeed the rest of the UK, the fall in its house price growth is in marked contrast to other regions. The West Midlands registered the UK’s highest annual growth, prices rising in the area by 7.3 percent in the 12 months to February 2018. The east Midlands were just behind with house price growth of 6.3 percent.

The Land Registry data examines house prices by property type. In London, flats in particular are falling in value, their average price dropping by 3.4 percent. Detached properties and terraced homes rose in value in the 12 months to February, from £887,959 to £915,162 and £482,631 to £489,639, respectively.

While the slowing rate of growth is disappointing for anyone looking to sell, those keen to buy in London will see this as an opportunity they can use to their advantage.

Talk to the experts in conveyancing for London at Capital Conveyancing today on 0207 406 5880 to see how we can help with your purchase or sale.

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