Competition and Markets Authority to investigate fairness of leasehold contracts
The CMA has launched an investigation into leasehold contracts after MPs and consumer groups raised concerns about costly fees, leaseholds being sold by developers to investors and the high costs to buy the freehold, resulting in some householders unable to sell their homes.
A freeholder owns their property outright, including the land it is built on. A leaseholder owns a lease which gives them the right to use the property, however their landlord has to give permission for any work or changes to their homes. When a leasehold property is first sold, the lease is granted for a fixed amount of time, however a leaseholder may be able to extend their lease or buy the freehold. A leaseholder will pay an annual ground rent fee to their landlord.
As part of its investigation, the CMA will write to developers, lenders and freeholders asking for information about how leaseholds are sold and managed, and the terms of their contracts. It also wants leaseholders to share their experiences, by 12 July, to gain an understanding of the impact the terms of the lease has on homeowners.
New Living Hours programme to offer security to some zero-hours contract workers
The Living Wage Foundation has created the Living House programme to offer greater security to zero-hours contract workers. Organisations that follow the programme will have to pay the Living Wage and give workers with at least four weeks’ notice of shifts. Workers will also get a contract that accurately reflects hours worked, and a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours a week.
Current Living Wage employers who have committed to the programme include Richer Sounds, SSE and Standard Life Aberdeen. Employers who commit to the programme will receive Living Hours accreditation.
UK financial regulator to tighten ‘buy now pay later’ rules
‘Buy now, pay later’ deals offer customers a promotional period, usually up to 12 months, when they don’t need to make payments and won’t be charged interest. However, once this period is has ended, customers have to start paying interest if they haven’t paid for the item in full. Usually the interest is charged on the full amount of the item, from the date it was bought, even if the customer has paid back part of the amount by the end of the promotional period.
The Financial Conduct Authority is introducing new rules for “buy now, pay later” deals. From 12th November, firms won’t be able to charge backdated interest on money that’s already been repaid. From 12th September firms must provide consumers with reminders of when the offer period is about to end, to give customers the chance to repay before they have to start paying interest. They must also provide customers with better information about the offer, including explaining how they calculate the interest if the customer doesn’t repay the full amount by the end of the promotional period.
Blue Badge scheme extended
From 30th August the blue badge scheme is being extended to people with problems including dementia, autism and anxiety disorders who struggle with getting about. However, local authorities will have the final say on who qualifies.
Government to tighten role of Competition and Markets Authority to reduce effect of the loyalty penalty
Following the Super complaint submitted last year by Citizens Advice regarding the loyalty penalty, when firms offer new customers discounts but not current customers, The government is to consult on giving the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) the power to fine firms that overcharge or mislead their customers without the need to go through a court.
Ofcom and the Financial Conduct Authority will also be given the ability to stop loyal customers being taken advantage of if their existing powers are found to be insufficient.
Other proposals in response to the super complaint include legislating, if necessary, to ensure mobile providers stop charging customers the same rate once they have effectively paid off their handsets at the end of the minimum contract period.