The former Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Christopher Pincher has been appointed as the new Housing Minister, replacing Esther McVey, whose July 2019 appointment was cut short by the new government.

From the outgoing Housing Minister:

“I’m very sorry to be relieved of my duties as Housing Minister… I wish my successor the very best and every success. I’m very grateful to the Prime Minister for having given me the opportunity to serve in his government and he will continue to have my support from the back benches.”

Mr. Pincher is now the tenth minister of housing.

On Mr. Pincher’s appointment, NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive, Mark Hayward says:

“We welcome Christopher Pincher as the new Housing Minister. Unfortunately, the lack of continuity in this post and the persistent changes means it’s near impossible for anyone in the role to make an impact.

Fixing the broken housing market should be the priority, and there’s a number of consultations and policy that requires action – most importantly the Regulation of Property Agents. We forward to working with the new Minister on these important changes to the industry.”

Responding to the Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey’s, written query on what the government is planning to do to protect the freeholders from service charges and other fees where rentcharges have been highlighted after the leasehold fees’ fiasco, the newly appointed Housing Minister replied:

“The government is committed to promoting fairness and transparency for homeowners and ensuring that consumers are protected from abuse and poor service.

The government is aware that homeowners could be subject to a possession order or the granting of a lease of their home by the rentcharge owner over rentcharge arrears.

As part of our leasehold reform work, we are moving forward with legislation to repeal Section 121 of the Law of Property Act 1925 to ensure homeowners are not subjected to unfair possession orders.”

Mr. Pincher further adds:

“Furthermore, where people pay estate rentcharges, it is not right that these homeowners have limited rights to challenge these costs.

That is why the government intends to legislate to give freeholders on private and mixed-tenure estates equivalent rights to leaseholders to challenge the reasonableness of estate rent charges.”

The Regulation of Property Agents working group, chaired by Lord Best, has been asked to look into “how service charges for leaseholders and estate rent charges for resident freehold homeowners could be made more transparent.”

The working group’s July 2019 report has the following recommendations:
* a model for an independent property-agent regulator, including how it will operate and how it will enforce compliance
* a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for property agents
* a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for property agents
* clarifying processes and charges for leaseholders

The Housing Minister said that the government is “considering the report’s recommendations and will announce next steps in due course”.

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