Bad practice in the leasehold market is old news for anyone living or working in the sector. So today's announcement that the findings of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) probe into the industry will lead to enforcement action is cause for optimism.
In case you missed the launch of the CMA investigation into leasehold mis-selling in June last year, here's what the authority has been looking into:
Having asked a wide range of industry stakeholders for information, the CMA found worrying evidence that leaseholders are being misled and taken advantage of. So the CMA is taking action. It will launch direct enforcement proceedings against companies that flout consumer protection law. This could mean firms signing legal commitments to change how they do business and facing legal action if they don't. Long term, even better news is that the CMA supports the case for changes to the law that frames leasehold. Of course, legal reform takes time ? too long to help people who are already trapped in homes they cannt afford or sell due to ongoing issues around ground rent, or facing huge charges to buy their freehold.
In the meantime, the CMA is developing consumer advice for existing and potential leaseholders. This will offer tips on what they can do when faced with permission fees and service charges they consider unjustified. Leasehold is complex and involves charges that buyers don't always understand or even know about - and which are too often quickly passed over by developers and agents keen to make a sale. This has to stop. Let's hope the CMA's action helps.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
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Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
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