The Government’s long-awaited white paper titled ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ was finally published recently, met with a lot of analysis and a fairly mixed reaction. “A housing market that works for everyone” is the Government’s goal, and the paper does indeed include a little something for everyone. The general consensus was that despite some missed opportunities, the white paper is overall a step in the right direction. So, what exactly are the proposals and how will they affect ordinary people?
Homeowners and Landlords
It’s clear that landlords can expect to weather a few more changes in the coming months and years. The Government is keen to introduce contracts for tenancies of up to three years in order to provide more security for tenants. Depending on your personal circumstances, this could be good or bad news if you’re a landlord. While some may be pleased by the prospect of longer tenancies and consequent stability of income this brings, others may find that the inflexibility of a three year contract concerning.
The Government has also pledged to promote transparency and fairness for leaseholders. This is in an effort to put an end to the unexpected or unfair costs many come up against after purchasing a leasehold property. Though the plans have not yet been fully fleshed out, the Government’s promise to tackle the unnecessarily complex and opaque nature of leasehold is good news for many homeowners in the UK.
For older homeowners, a significant announcement in the white paper was the Government’s focus on making downsizing a more attractive choice. This is with a view to freeing up larger homes for families with children. If the government goes through with this plan, it will mean building better quality, fit-for-purpose sheltered accommodation that will be a positive alternative to spending one’s later years in a large and empty property – potentially a win-win policy.
Some were surprised to find that the white paper launched a considerable shift of government emphasis towards renting instead of home ownership. One of the most talked-about points of the publication was the promotion of more secure renting conditions for families, in the form of longer and more secure tenancies. For tenants who are happy to continue renting for a long time, this will be good news, but for those who would rather buy their own home, the idea might not hit such a positive note.
A welcome proposition was the banning of agency fees for tenants. The government has previously hinted at this idea but was more concrete in its stance in the white paper, indicating that legislation may be brought forward soon. This will certainly help take some of the financial strain away from renters.
The most prominent theme of the white paper was the Government’s desire for housing development in the UK to pick up the pace. This means placing greater pressure on developers to get building once they have planning permission, and on local authorities to ensure the housing need in their local area is met. It may not provide immediate relief for those who are currently striving to get on the property ladder, but a boost in the supply of affordable housing in the coming years is likely to be helpful to young families and others trying to buy their first home.
As for what else was in store for first-time buyers, the government largely placed emphasis on its existing policies for this group, mainly the Help to Buy scheme. This scheme currently offers first-time buyers a leg-up onto the ladder with the Help-to-Buy ISA, low interest loans, and a shared ownership initiative.
As a long-established South Wales law firm, Devonalds Solicitors have been proud to assist our clients through all kinds of property transactions for many years. We are renowned for our expertise in conveyancing and are committed to being clear on costs, with our clients’ best interests at heart. Whether you’re a first-time buyer hoping to get that first foot on the property ladder, you’re thinking about downsizing for your later years or anything in between, make sure you have the experts by your side. Get in touch with our friendly experts today.