Today is our annual Conference so Newsround was a bit late today!
The effect of this judgment is that if there is fraud involved in a sale and purchase, both sets of solicitors are responsible for not spotting it.
The buyer’s solicitors should have picked it up in their investigations for the buyer and (as per this new case) the seller’s solicitors should have checked their client our properly before acting for them.
So in effect, the solicitor’s firms between them are guaranteeing the sale.
I suspect that solicitors firms will be most unhappy about this. It will mean that their indemnity insurance (already one of the biggest law firm expenses) will go up. Meaning that probably so will conveyancing costs for their customer. They just won’t be able to do cut-price conveyancing any more.
It may also mean that conveyancing will take longer as the solicitors cover their backs by doing more checks. Although this Property Industry Eye post believes that already it is far too long a process.
NB Ros Renshaw in Eye has published a list of signs that the seller may be dodgy and not the property owner. Conveyacers take note!
A loophole in the letting fees ban?
Generation Rent are complaining that the Tenant Fee Bill still allows ‘default’ fees which could allow unscrupulous agents and landlords to charge excessive fees,
Default fees remain in the Bill despite warnings from Generation Rent, Shelter, and Citizens Advice that these fees are open to abuse, and potentially incompatible with consumer contract law. The Commons Housing Committee report on the Draft Bill recommended that clear guidance needs to be provided on what default fees can be charged for, how much is reasonable, and how this will be enforced.
The Tenant Fees Bill also allows for tenants to be charged a change of sharer fee, which is supposedly capped at £50. But it then permits landlords to ignore this if the “reasonable” costs of changing a contract are higher.
We gave a list in the last Newsround of the sorts of things that are being charged. Tenants organisations are calling for “limiting the type of default fees allowed and making it easier for tenants to challenge any unfair fees”.
We shall have to see what happens.
News from Wales
The National Assembly has introduced legislation to ban tenant fees in Wales David Cox, ARLA Property Mark CEO said:
ARLA chief executive David Cox said:
“Looking at the Committee’s calendar of meeting dates it is likely that the draft Bill will be introduced imminently.
“We have already engaged with the Welsh Government to explain our grave concerns about the impact a ban will have on staff numbers, the quality of properties and rent prices across the sector.
“We will be engaging fully with Assembly Members to ensure they understand the negative implications that a ban will deliver.”
The Welsh government is also looking to crack down on the unsavoury practice of ‘sex for rent’.
It looks as if the code of practice for landlords and agents licensed under Rent Smart Wales is going to be amended to make it clear “that anyone who advertises property for rent with a requirement of sex risks losing their license to operate in Wales”.
RLA calls for longer tenancies
The RLA is calling for provision to be made for longer tenancies in view of the face that more and more older people are being forced to rent as they cannot afford to buy.
David Smith, Policy Director for the Residential Landlords Association said:
“We recognise that older tenants, especially those with children, want security in rented housing. Although official statistics show that tenants have, on average, lived in their existing rented homes for almost 4 years, we have called on the Government to do more to support the provision of longer tenancies. This includes addressing the problem that mortgage lenders often prevent landlords offering longer tenancies with an RLA survey showing that 44 per cent of landlords have mortgage conditions that limit the maximum length of tenancy that can be offered.
“The growth in the number of older tenants is one factor behind an increase in demand for rented housing at a time when an increasing number of landlords are not investing in more properties or are selling off homes because of Government tax rises on the sector. This is making it more difficult in areas of high demand for tenants to find decent accommodation.
“The Government is increasingly asking the private rented sector to house people in categories that it was never intended or structured to do. Ministers need to undertake a comprehensive review to ensure the support is in place for landlords to meet the changes in the types of tenants in rented housing.”
- An interesting report from Eye of the Property Ombudsman’s annual report shows more complaints being made. Katherine Sporle says that there should be one scheme for the social and once scheme for the private rented sector as one organisation (as proposed by the government) can’t effectively cover both.
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission reports that disabled people are often trapped in unsuitable properties as there are not enough suitable ones available.
- Some people are reporting that there is going to be a boom for first-time buyers as around 400,000 landlords are looking to sell up, presumably because of the tax changes
- A new government guide looks at what Universal Credit means for landlords.
- Congratulations to Giles Peaker of Nearly Legal fame who has been shortlisted to be Housing Legal Aid solicitor for the year, an award made by the Legal Aid solicitors Group.