25 January, 2024
Having navigated the challenges of 2023, we now turn our sights towards 2024. Unfortunately, some of last year's challenges may not have gone away just yet, and there are some big unknowns waiting around the corner.
The elephant that remains in the room is the continuing implementation of the Building Safety Act 2022, and the gradual ever-increasing involvement of the Building Safety Regulator. Will 2024 bring the introduction of the New Homes Ombudsman and the introduction of 15-year new home warranties? Both of which are provided for within the Building Safety Act and are yet to come into force.
Plot sales will need to be on alert for any changes potentially being introduced rather quickly and it may be prudent to start considering its implementation when drafting documents on site development.
Despite the deadline having come and gone long before 2023 bid us farewell - there are still high-rise residential developments which have not been registered with the Building Safety Regulator. It is only a matter of time before penalties start being applied and it is something anybody who has an involvement with a high-rise residential development needs to address urgently in 2024. With this, we should also gain more insight into how the Building Safety Regulator is going to assess and respond to Safety Case Reports as it starts to call them in.
Whilst the above are all known issues that are carrying over to 2024, the main unknown is the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill. Will the current government try to rush something through in time for the general election, or will it take a back seat? It is a significant and crucial piece of legislation, with potentially huge implications across the whole property spectrum - especially in relation to any potential caps on ground rents. We could see leasehold houses formally banned, except in exceptional circumstances and we could even see a renewed push for Commonhold tenure. Given the rushed and problematic introduction of the Building Safety Act, the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill must be well thought out as the sector can ill afford a repeat of the chaos we saw following this.
Towards the end of February, we should also have received the market study into housebuilding being undertaken by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA are currently investigating in greater detail five keys areas, which includes land banking, planning rules, and estate management charges. Once its investigations are completed, the CMA will look at what needs to be done in relation to these areas. Will it launch a market investigation? Will it recommend legislative changes? Only time will tell.
2024 should also see the introduction of regulations to bring some much-needed clarity to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023. Those provisions relating to the new powers granted to local authorities to conduct compulsory rental auctions of empty high street premises are of particular importance.
When you also consider a possible review of the 1954 Land and Tenant Act, and the ban on no-fault evictions in the Renters Reform Bill amongst a whole host of other changes - 2024 looks like it could well be a year where significant changes come thick and fast.
For more information contact Matthew Jones in our Commercial Property department via email or phone on 01254 222316. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
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