Housing Policy

These were some of the new policies passed last year at the GP AGM and electonic voting.

The Green Party (the “Party”) resolves that the island’s housing crisis demands that attention be given to addressing the number of vacant and dilapidated housing that blight the island. Any house that sits unoccupied for more than 12 weeks in a year should incur an unoccupied tax. Owners of properties that are unfit for habitation should, in addition to the unoccupied tax, be given a specific time period to make them habitable or Government should compulsory purchase them and make them available to those who will upgrade them.
Rationale:
Un- or underutilised housing stock are fundamentally brownfield sites, many of which are in urban areas. Bringing them back into productive use will increase the number of homes available, improve the looks of the island and reduce the pressure for out of town greenfield developments

The Green Party (the “Party”) resolves to support the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for all residential and commercial properties for sale or rent on the Isle of Man. To be introduced over time, starting with residential rental properties.

Rationale:
In countries that have introduced EPCs rents have become aligned to the relative efficiency of the property. This has the advantage of either reducing rents on substandard properties and incentivising landlords to upgrade their energy performance of their properties to maximise their rental potential.

The Green Party (the “Party”) resolves to support the aligning of Isle of Man building regulations with the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2019. These provide equivalent levels of efficiency to Passive House/ Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs) (new builds) and EnerPHit (retrofits.) Embodied
carbon requirements to also be introduced. The current requirement for SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) calculations on new builds to be replaced with PHPP (Passive House Planning Package) calculations.


Rationale:
Current Isle of Man building regulations are behind those in the UK and significantly behind those of many European countries. The result is new houses are still being built that are substantially less energy efficient and more carbon intensive than is appropriate given that we are in a climate emergency
and the astronomical increase in energy costs. It is disturbing that almost all houses that are presently being constructed on the island will need to be
retrofitted by 2050 to meet current targets

The Green Party (the “Party”) resolves to support the extension of common consumer rights
principles when it comes to buyer and selling property.
a. Estate agents will be required to produce, at seller’s expense, a seller’s pack containing:
i. Valuation and survey reports
ii. Land registry information
iii. Searches information
Information contained within this pack will be valid for a period of 180 days at which time the valuation report will need to be revisited. This pack will be provided free of charge to any interested parties prior to any offer being made on the property.
b. Once a purchase price has been agreed between a buyer and a seller and the advocates have been instructed, the sale becomes a legally enforceable contract and binding on both parties. The property may no longer be offered for sales to any other party.
c. If either party is unable to complete the purchase for reasons not explicitly laid out in the purchase/sale agreement, then the aggrieved party is entitled to damages commensurate to all Page 3 of 5 19-10-2022 expenses and other losses incurred. The party responsible for this will, in addition, pay the aggrieved party 1.5% of the agreed sale price in damages.


Rationale:
The purchase of a home is the single biggest financial transaction that most will ever undertake. One that affords almost no consumer protections whatsoever. The two most significant shortfalls are the common law concept of caveat emptor (buyer beware) and the ability of buyers and sellers to renege
on an agreed price. Consumer protection laws are in place to protect far smaller priced items from defect and pricing abuse, yet real estate transactions on the Isle of Man remain a transactional Wild West. When one purchases a fridge or car, one typically signs a purchase agreement and pays a deposit. At that point, the purchase or sale becomes a binding agreement that neither party can walk away from without just cause. A retailer cannot tear up the sales agreement 10 minutes after you leave the store and prior to delivery because someone comes in and offers them £20 more (because the one you purchased was the last one in stock). Any business that did accept this late offer would likely fall afoul of
consumer protection laws and would not remain in business very long once word of this tactic spread. When selling a house, the seller determines a price that they will accept for the property. They or their agent then advertises the property at that price. A buyer will then offer the asking price or negotiate
with the seller until a purchase price and terms are agreed. In all equitable transactions an agreement becomes binding on both parties once the terms are agreed and the specified deposit is paid. The purchaser then immediately incurs considerable non-refundable costs by way of advocate fees, title
fees and property surveys in their good faith efforts to complete the transaction. It is inequitable that, once having agreed to a sale that a purchaser then continues to market the property and seek a higher price or better terms (i.e. a cash buyer over one that needs a mortgage approved) and then, having secured a “better deal” simply walks away from the original deal leaving the
buyer with considerable sunk cost and no house. The same logic applies to buyers who at the very lastminute attempt to negotiate a lower price than was agreed in the contract knowing that the seller has a need to complete the transaction for whatever reason. As is the practise in many countries, the agreed purchase price should comprise a contract of sale that
neither party can renege on without specific predefined reasons (e.g. unable to obtain a mortgage based on bank valuation of said property, purchase is subject to prior sale of another residence, survey shows defects, etc.). If either party pulls out of a sale they should compensate the other party for all expenses incurred until that point (e.g. advocate fees, survey fees, mortgage application fees, etc.). Under no circumstances should a seller be able to accept the offer of a higher price once a sale is agreed until that sale fails to complete for whatever reason. A related problem is the current onus being on the buyer to obtain a survey. I am aware of properties that have had up to 3 offers fall through based on survey results. Each prospective buyer has had to commission the same survey on the same property (sometimes from the same surveyor). If you are
selling your property and a survey shows defects that cause the sale to fall through, both the seller and the agent should be legally required to disclose those defects (and provide a copy of any surveys
conducted) to any other prospective buyer. Most surveys attempt to restrict distribution of the surveyvPage 4 of 5 19-10-2022 to third parties. The surveyor has obvious self-interest reasons for restricting the use of their surveys,
but it contributes further to the overall cost of housing due to repeated surveys being undertaken on the same property. The simple solution would be to adopt the method used in many countries where the onus is on the seller to commission the survey (from registered surveyors who carry professional
indemnity insurance). This is then provided to every prospective purchaser before they make their offers. This would significantly reduce the number of sales that fail to complete due to defects that comes to light only after an offer has been written and accepted. We have recently seen the case of developers who accept deposits on new houses and then decide to cancel the sales agreement and return the deposits on some pretext. That would be understandable were the houses no longer going to be built. However, to then a few months later put those same houses back on the market at a higher price is unconscionable. It should be a legal requirement that once those houses were once again made available, the original purchasers should have been given first
right of refusal at the exact same price and terms as the original agreement. Increases in the price of materials should not be a factor – any developer building in phases should have been able to lock in material costs prior starting construction of that phase. If they are unable to do so, then they should
not be pre-selling houses until they are able to determine the final price. Should the price of housing have collapsed during the pandemic (instead of the opposite), it is doubtful that any purchase agreements would have been cancelled and the properties then put back on the market at a lower
price. Buyers and sellers cannot have it both ways. A sale is a sale. And needs to be legally enforced.