CMA investigate house builders for mis-selling leaseholds
The Competitions and Markets Authority is to investigate how house builders sell leaseholds following evidence of unfair terms and mis-selling, consequently trapping buyers into rising ground rents and unfair fees. The CMA will also work with the Government to work to ban the sale of new leasehold houses and reduce ground rents for new leases to zero.
Santander extends branch opening hours
Santander has extended its current branch opening hours from 9.30am until 4.30pm on Monday to Friday. Saturday hours will return to normal with branches open from 9.30am to 12.30pm, or 4pm.
Further delays in Smart Meter rollout programme
Due to COVID-19 lockdown, the target for the installation of smart meters in all homes and small businesses has been pushed back to 2025.
Change to age when Private pension funds can be accessed
Since April 2015 workers have been able to take 25 per cent of their private pension as a tax free lump sum from age 55. However, from 2028 workers will have to wait until they are 57 to access private pension funds. The state pension is not affected. This is due to concerns about scammers preying on savers accessing pensions and a worry that people are spending savings too quickly and will run out of money.
Survey indicates people don’t check their energy bills
A survey by energy helpline.com, an independent comparison site, found that 46% of respondents did not check the accuracy of their bills.
Additional support for customers by Natwest
Natwest has launched its new service “Banking My Way” to enable customers to request additional banking support needs e.g. to be spoken to slowly. The service can be set up online, over the phone or in branch.
Vehicle purchase scams
Beware of vehicle purchase scams where scammers lure people into paying for cars that don’t exist. Scammers use photographs from websites of legitimate car dealerships to advertise cars for sale but don’t allow a prospective buyer to view it in advance of purchase. Only after payment does the victim realise the car does not exist.
New shared ownership announced by Government
The Government has announced a new shared ownership model which would allow the minimum initial share to buy in a property to be 10% rather than 25%. Additional shares could be purchased in 1% instalments with heavily-reduced fees. There will also be a 10-year period for new shared owners where the landlord agrees to cover the cost of any repairs and maintenance to the property. The new Shared Ownership model will be implemented on all new build Shared Ownership homes delivered through the new Affordable Homes Programme, beginning in 2021.
Legal to witness wills by video-link
The Wills Act 1837 will be amended to state that the ‘presence’ of those making and witnessing wills includes a virtual presence, via video-link, as an alternative to physical presence. The legislation will be in force until 31 January 2022 and will also apply to codicils. Witnesses must see by video-link the will being signed in real-time, pre-recorded videos will not be allowed. If possible, a recording of the signing and witnessing process should be retained. The Government will not allow electronic signatures or counterpart documents (when two copies of the will are prepared and the will maker signs one copy and the witnesses sign another copy).
Government announces a “truce” on housing evictions this Christmas
The Government has changed the law to increase notice periods to six months, so renters given notice can stay in their homes over the winter whilst they look for alternative accommodation. Exceptions will only apply in cases of anti-social behaviour or fraud by the tenant. Bailiffs won’t be able to enforce evictions in areas of COVID-19 lockdown. They also should not enforce possession orders over Christmas, exact dates to be confirmed.
Driving licence renewals extended until the end of the year.
The DVLA has announced driving licences which were due to expire between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020 will be automatically given 11 month extensions. Drivers will not need to renew until they receive a reminder from the DVLA.