Two successes but we have to make sure we do not allow ourselves to go soft and stop fighting. The Government has announced that it plans to ban builders from selling new houses as leasehold. At Money Fight Club, in the Financial Times and on Share Radio I have long campaigned for the feudal leasehold system to be reformed. The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership has also been brilliant.
Sajid Javid late last night announced that the market was broken and was harming home buyers. Builders and the companies that make fat profits from buying freeholds from property developers to inflate dramatically the cost to home buyers may disagree. Nationwide has already said it will not offer mortgages on new leasehold houses or flats with short leases. Let the consultation begin.
Battle the vested interests
It should take about eight weeks but until legislation passes through parliament, which is home to many vested interests, I will continue to battle to make sure that the good intention is not killed off. And that those lawyers who took the builders’ shilling to smooth through the conveyancing without alerting the leasehold buyers to the dodgy small print need to pay their clients compensation.
Small victory on train ticket machines
The other success is more everyday and local. My local train station in Sussex has updated its ticket machines to enable passengers to buy cheap tickets when the ticket offices are closed.
The offices are open for far fewer hours and the machines until the beginning of the month would not sell the cheapest tickets and were difficult to navigate. It meant good old Southern Trains could save money on staff costs and make more from inflated fares.
Maybe the £13m fine a few weeks ago for poor passenger service over the last year hit home. But there is still a long way to go.
But small print still confounds
Anyone buying tickets in machines or online have to agree the terms and conditions of travel. Those who actually access these ts and cs will find they run to 36 pages. You can carry three items of luggage and two dogs, even an unloaded gun – with prior permission. That is unless there is not enough room for your luggage. How travellers are meant to establish that in advance is not clear.
You cannot complain and claim compensation if there is no seat – unless you have a first class ticket. Then you can claim the difference between the first class fare and the cheapest standard class ticket.
Terms and conditions must be fair to all
My next challenge will be to make the terms and conditions fair and reasonable for all. That might require briefer and clearer terms and conditions. Maybe the Southern work experience boy can move on from his social media role.
The battles must continue.