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Welsh Government urged to adopt leasehold best practice guidelines

Welsh Government has been urged to adopt best practice guidelines that are already in place elsewhere in the UK to help deal with issues around the leasehold system in the residential property market in Wales.

RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) says that adopting the Service Charge Residential Management Code, which has already been approved by the UK Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, would bring a range of benefits for the housing market in Wales.

The potential benefits would include a reduction in the causes of disputes between tenants and landlords over lease service charges and a better resolution of disputes when they do occur, RICS says. The organisation also says that the benefits would include a general improvement in standards, uniformity, reasonableness and transparency in the management and administration of long leasehold residential property.

Welsh Government has already created a taskforce to advise on the reform of the leasehold system in Wales, which met last week (Friday 20th July). RICS says that this is welcome, but it also says that the government should go further and adopt the best practice guidelines now.

RICS Policy Manager, Hew Edgar, comments:

“Lease service charges can create tensions between landlords and tenants for a range of reasons, with disputes often arising in relation to services to be provided, costs, maintenance contributions and budgets. The Service Charge Residential Management Code aims to promote best practice, to minimise conflicts, and provide a mutual source of transparency and uniformity. We look forward to contributing constructively to the Welsh Government’s Task and Finish Group on Residential Leasehold Reform and we will be actively encouraging the government to sign up to the best practice guidelines.”

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration Rebecca Evans AM had stated previously that the areas the new Task and Finish Group on Residential Leasehold Reform should consider include:

  • Failings in the leasehold system in Wales: how they impact on leaseholders, and any recommendations to address these.
  • Advising on production and dissemination of awareness raising materials, guidance and relevant training for all those involved in buying / selling leasehold property.
  • Proposals for a voluntary code of practice for property / estate management agents.
  • Options for freehold homeowners on private estates to challenge estate charges.