By Harry Scoffin
42 MPs have endorsed Sir Keir Starmer’s move to force the repeal of a controversial new law allowing block owners to add two storeys without planning permission.
The permitted development right, which LKP has criticised for gifting freeholders a £41bn windfall while fettering flat owners, was rushed through days before MPs broke for summer recess and without a vote in Parliament.
The Labour leader’s early day motion has attracted support across all corners of his party, boasting signatures from ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell and other leftwing MPs sympathetic to his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, such as Rebecca Long-Bailey, who he sacked in June, and Apsana Begum, whose Poplar and Limehouse constituency has the second highest number of leaseholds in the country.
It has been sponsored by Nick Brown, who has been the chief whip for every Labour leader since Gordon Brown, alongside shadow housing secretary Debbonaire Thangam, shadow housing and planning minister Mike Amesbury, shadow communities secretary Steve Reed, and shadow minister for local government Kate Hollern.
LKP urges readers to get their elected representatives to endorse the parliamentary petition.
There have been a number of criticisms from across the sector about the rule change and there is an awareness the existing protections for leaseholders are inadequate and that the previous regime allowed for a number of poor quality developments, which have led to a number of difficulties for the leaseholders and residents on site.
Leaseholders at one prime London block have told LKP their period building has never been the same since the freehold owner pressed ahead with an incongruous and bulky upward extension which, despite having council sign-off, has allegedly resulted in subsidence and intermittent leaking.
Meanwhile, landlord and tenant solicitor Giles Peaker criticised the new regulation to enable automatic rooftop extensions for freeholders.
In a series of tweets, he explained a case where he was representing leaseholders whose apartments were being repeatedly flooded by properties on a new penthouse floor, but where the building owner was using tripartite leases and an intermediate landlord to evade responsibility for many years.
Sir Keir’s formal demand to annul the freeholder-friendly statutory instrument that was bundled together with emergency coronavirus regulations in August has also found the backing of LKP patron Sir Peter Bottomley, who first drew parliamentary attention to the subject with his now-rescinded early day motion.
The father of the House of Commons is also joined by former Green party leader Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru MPs.
It is anticipated that the new Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, who also co-chairs the APPG on leasehold reform, will add his voice to the chorus of opposition – and instruct his party to formally support the initiative.
Members of the House of Lords registered opposition to the planning giveaway last month, with crossbench chartered surveyor Lord Thurlow warning of botched rooftop extensions and a ground rents-style backlash from consumers.
A professor of law, the former Welsh Tory leader Lord Bourne highlighted the adverse impacts the planning deregulation would have on the enfranchisement rights of leaseholders:
“This provision gives a windfall profit, as it were, to the freeholders in added value, but for leaseholders, who might seek to purchase their [leasehold] interest from the landlord, it will inflate the price. It also means that any appropriate windfall profit for a particular property will not help the leaseholder, only the freeholder.”
While Sir Keir’s early day motion is not binding on government, it puts down a marker on leasehold and commonhold reform.
Town and Country Planning – Early Day Motions
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (S.I., 2020, No. 632), dated 23 June 2020, a copy of which was laid before this House on 24 June 2020, be annulled.
I remember just after the last election, Boris said he would not forget the voters who put him in office, mainly working class people many I would imagine being flat tenants, many others being leaseholders.
If it were not for Mr Corbyn’s indecision over Brexit I think we might have a Labour Government now.
Mr Starmer seems to be a person who doesn’t dilly dally and has a different approach to the ideas of Boris who it seems has been charmed by the developers into giving away taxpayers money to enrich them; as I understand it a Labour government would have abolished this leasehold scandal, and it is a scandal, lets not forget that the whole idea of leasehold is to enrich the freeholder for no service and no responsibility for the property they ‘own’ as is evident by the way they have denied responsibility for allowing “their” properties to be maintained in an unsafe manner.
What Government in God’s name would allow such a thing!
The money they collected from the tenants should have been used to create a fund in case the worst happened, but no, the money in many cases has gone to unknown speculators for what purpose we shall never know.
Mr Pincher stated some months ago that he wanted more transparency in the leasehold system, I sent him a note asking if that meant he would make it a rule that the actual owners of properties would be named…. I never got a reply and to be honest did not follow it up as I have given up hope that this leasehold scam will ever end.
What seems incredulous to me at least is that there has been talk, sometimes put out by leaseholders themselves that a one off capped payment could be made to the managing agents to buy the freehold, lets get this straight, these people have benefitted from ground rent payments for no service in most cases, their operation is in place and purposed to extract as much money as possible from leaseholders, they are aided by an unjust legal system which they have managed over many years to set up with the help of uncaring Governments, and now they want to pay an unkown person in order to have a normal life!.
The system that freeholding managing agents adhere to is nothing less than a gross breach of human rights, and the irony is that they themselves use this argument for their own purpose!, this is very obviously not right, we are dealing with a company set up for the sole purpose of fleecing ordinary folk and denying their human rights. they are not an individual.
It is obvious that Law and Justice are at odds with each other in this game. Justic is not being seen to be done.
Some years ago in the Thatcher era, Mr Tebbit a minister, complained about the power that Trade Unions had whom he thought were causing great problems for industry, he was possibly right, what he said was that Trade Unionism is the “British Disease” notwithstanding that there were and still are many countries with trade unions, however what is evident with the leaseholding system is that this is the real “British Disease” it is confined to England and Wales, although I do accept that there are some countries with considerably much much lower leasehold tenure practices.
Many people I speak to from other countries cannot believe that such a system exists, a system that blatantly exults in making money for no service and sometimes causes untold misery for those who keep them fed, usually their expression is of disbelief along with expletives as to what they think of these parasites.