HQN Leasehold Network News

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Leasehold Network Lead Associate Richard Waft, as well as other associates for the Leasehold Network, regularly find and outline the big news stories for members, while providing their own analysis and comments.

For more expert analysis, briefings and best practice for everyone working with leaseholders in social housing and wanting to improve service delivery, be sure to join The Leasehold Network. You can find out more here.

Four new members appointed to Homes England’s Board

Four new members have been appointed to the Board of Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator.

Mark Rennison, Olivia Scanlon, Sadie Morgan and Vanessa Murden join the Homes England Board with immediate effect, increasing its gender diversity and boosting its resilience; taking its non-executive members from 6 to 10.

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Are Social Housing Green Paper proposals on ice? We look at what has happened since last year

One year ago this week, the government published its long-awaited Social Housing Green Paper. This document, which was overdue, was supposed to be the “most substantial report of its kind for a generation” and deliver a “fundamental rethink of social housing in this country”.

But these lofty aims remain – as yet – unfulfilled.

A consultation on the paper closed in November, with a response and a potential white paper expected in spring. But as we pass the one-year anniversary, we are still waiting.

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Leasehold Technical Talk – July 2019 – by Helen Muir

House sales increase in Wales for first time in three years

During 2018-19 the overall number of housing sales by social landlords increased for the first time since 2015-16. This is likely to be due to the ending of the Right to Buy (RTB) and Right to Acquire (RTA) schemes for existing stock in January 2019.

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New housing statistics show increase in schemes for shared ownership and Rent to Buy

A total of 17,772 affordable homes started in 2018-19 were for Affordable Rent – a 4% increase on the previous year. Of these, 11,560 were for schemes including Shared Ownership and RTB – a 24% increase on 2017-18. The remaining 1,231 were for social rent, a 12% decrease on the previous 12 months.

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Right to Buy sales plummet by almost a quarter

RTB sales fell 23% in the last quarter of 2018/19, while replacements slipped more than 4,000 homes behind the government’s one-for-one pledge. Official figures just released show councils in England sold an estimated 2,612 homes through the policy from January to March 2019, down from 3,396 in the same period last year.

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Measures confirmed to tackle ‘unfair’ leaseholds

The Communities Secretary said that government are to return to ‘original plans’ to reduce ground rents on future leases to zero.

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Experts demand urgent removal of cladding from tower blocks

Experts say more than 100 more tower blocks must be urgently stripped of combustible cladding panels in a significant widening of the fire safety crisis since the Grenfell Tower disaster.

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Council-owned company commits to sprinklers in new-build homes

With the government condemned by a House of Commons Select Committee for its “far to slow” response to Grenfell, a council-owned housing company has committed to fitting sprinklers in all its new-build properties. WV Living (Wolverhampton) is one of the first UK council-owned housing companies to make the commitment.

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Housing health and safety standards in the PRS being modernised

The Housing Health Safety Rating System (HHSRS) used to assess health and safety in residential properties it to be reformed to make it more accessible for landlords and tenants. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said that the system will be simpler, making it easier for the sector to understand the hazards that could put tenants’ health at risk.

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Thursday 27 June 2019

Government announced leasehold axed for all new houses

All new-build houses will be sold as freehold in a bold move to tackle unfair leasehold practices and prevent future home-owners from being trapped in exploitative arrangements, the Communities Secretary has revealed.

In a wide-ranging speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP confirmed plans to abolish the selling of new houses as leasehold properties and reduce ground rents for new leases to zero – putting cash back into the pockets of future homeowners.

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A government-backed pledge which commits freeholders, developers, conveyancers and managing agents to taking concrete steps to help leaseholders who are stuck in unfair deals can be viewed here.

Leasehold Technical Talk – June 2019 – by Helen Muir

Ministers accused of ‘desperation to contain cladding scandal’ as details of non-ACM tests emerge

The government has been accused of a “futile desperation to contain the cladding scandal” as it prepares to combine high-pressure laminate (HPL) material with non-combustible insulation in its forthcoming fire safety test.

The long-awaited fire safety tests on a series of cladding materials are due to start soon, with the result of the HPL tests most anticipated.

Read more (registration required)

Government warned of another Grenfell-type disaster as 60,000 people still living in buildings covered in same flammable material

Almost 60,000 people are still living in tower blocks covered in the highly flammable material that was used on Grenfell Tower, two years on from the blaze at the west London block, new figures have revealed.

There are 24,800 homes in high-rise blocks that are still covered in Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding that is “unlikely to meet building regulations”, ministers admitted.

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Grenfell survivors and relatives open US legal battle

More than 100 Grenfell survivors and relatives are taking legal action in the US against three firms they blame for the fire.

The lawsuit will target the cladding maker Arconic, insulation maker Celotex and fridge supplier Whirlpool.

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Welsh government announces regulatory reform for fire safety in high-rises

The Welsh government has announced it will reform the system regulating fire safety in high-rise buildings.

Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James has said she will consider new legislation to replace the current Fire Safety Order and building control process.

The developments come as part of the government’s response to the Building Safety Expert Group’s Road Map, intended as a guide for improving fire safety in high-rise buildings – following Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent report in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.

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Shared ownership demand set to rise 150% once Help to Buy ends

Shared ownership demand is set to rise by over 15,000 homes once Help to Buy ends in March 2023, according to new projections from Savills – that’s more than twice the number of shared ownership homes being built now.

Currently, around 40,000 households become first time buyers each year through the Help to Buy equity loan and of these, around 38% – or 15,300 buyers – could not have afforded to buy their homes without the scheme.

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