Competition Watchdog to Probe Home Building and Renting

THE COMPETITION AND MARKETS AUTHORITY (CMA) has launched a market study into housebuilding, and a separate investigation into consumer rights for tenants renting.

The market study comes following concerns builders are not delivering the homes people need at sufficient scale or speed. The CMA’s consumer protection work will seek to shed light on the experience of renters and explore whether more could be done to help landlords and intermediaries to understand their obligations.

The CMA’s Annual Plan says it wants to promote an environment where ‘people can be confident they are getting great choices and fair deals in the areas where consumers spend the most money and time’.

Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “The quality and cost of housing is one of the biggest issues facing the country. Over the last few years, the CMA delivered real change for leaseholders, with tens of thousands of homeowners receiving refunds after being overcharged unfair ground rents.

“With that work nearly finished, we’re now looking to probe in more detail two further areas – the housebuilding and the rental sectors.

“If there are competition issues holding back housebuilding in Britain then we need to find them. But we also need to be realistic that more competition alone won’t unlock a housebuilding boom.

“In the same vein, we want to explore the experiences people have of the rental sector and whether there are issues here that the CMA can help with.

“We will of course be guided by the evidence, but if we find competition or consumer protection concerns, we are prepared to take the steps necessary to address them.”

The CMA publish a market study report within 12 months, setting out its findings and actions proposed.

Housebuilding Market Study

The CMA’s market study into housebuilding will focus on four areas:

housing quality: looking at how builders are delivering the right sorts of homes that communities and buyers need – including the fairness of estate management fees charged for ‘unadopted’ roads and amenities
land management: examining whether the practice of ‘banking’ land before or after receiving planning permission is anti-competitive
local authority oversight: exploring how councils oversee the delivery of homes and how developers negotiate affordable home requirements
innovation: considering whether factors may be holding builders back from adopting new building techniques or moving towards more sustainable, net zero homes

A market study allows the CMA to use compulsory information-gathering powers to probe the entire market. As well as helping develop a deeper understanding of how and when housebuilders decide to deliver new homes and the interaction of that with local authority housing targets, the study will consider the issues faced by smaller, regional firms.

More information can be found on the housebuilding market study case page.

Consumer Protection in Rented Sector

The CMA’s consumer enforcement work in housing will focus on:

the end-to-end experience from a tenant’s perspective, including finding somewhere to live, renting a property, and moving between homes
identifying the consumer protection issues that may arise. The project will examine the relationship between tenants and landlords and the role of intermediaries, such as letting agents

Following a period of stakeholder engagement, the CMA will report on its initial findings and proposed next steps this summer.


>> Read more about housebuilding & renting in the news

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