CMA Formally Launch Investigation Into Leasehold Market
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has officially launched its investigation into the leasehold market today, June 11th 2019.
In May, Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, penned a letter to the committee chair of HCLGC emphasising the need to investigate the most onerous areas of leasehold property including permission fees, doubling ground rents and other onerous terms.
The investigation will determine whether these onerous leasehold features can be considered ‘unfair terms’ as legally defined.
Today, the CMA’s consumer protection law investigation will examine two crucial areas of onerous leasehold terms:
- Potential mis-selling – this ranges from determining whether those in leaseholds were offered the information necessary to make an informed decision all the way through to looking at the fairness of the lease terms including ground rents and freehold rights options.
- Potential unfair terms – this section of the investigation will focus on the fairness of fees being charged to leaseholders. This area will look at doubling ground rents, ‘permission fees’, service fees and administration fees.
In the coming weeks, developers, lenders and freeholders will be contacted by the CMA. They will be asked to share information about the leasehold sales process, including the terms the contracts contain.
The CMA will also seek information on the impact leasehold property is having on leaseholders.
Wherever the investigation finds unfair and onerous terms embedded within contracts or information has been mis-leading to the consumer, enforcement action could be taken.
Robert Godfrey, partner and head of professional negligence at Simpson Millar, said:
“We represent hundreds of people who feel they are now locked into leasehold deals that make selling their homes tricky, or cost a fortune in ground rents.
“A lease is a very complex document which needs to be carefully and simply explained to clients so they can understand the issues which may arise and make an informed decision in continuing with the purchase.”
“Many of our clients feel they did not have the full extent of a lease explained to them by their conveyancers. We therefore welcome the investigation and urge the CMA to take into consideration not only the financial, but also the emotional impact that this has had on victims as part of their Inquiry.”
George Lusty, Senior Director for Consumer Enforcement, said:
“Buying a home is one of the most expensive and important purchases a person can make. So, it’s essential they fully understand the contract they are signing – including whether they will have to pay more than they bargained for.
“Our investigation will shed light on potential misleading practices and unfair terms to help better protect people buying a home in future.”
Will this investigation help create a fair and transparent leasehold system?