Government today gave assurance that the leasehold reform bills would be brought forward in this session of Parliament, but it would not publish the bills for pre-legislative scrutiny as former housing minister Lord Greenhalgh has urged.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Labour chief whip in the Lords and a powerful voice for leaseholders, raised the issue, and received the following response from Baroness Scott of Bybrook, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Lords:
“We are committed to making enfranchisement simpler and cheaper for leaseholders. We will abolish marriage value, cap the treatment of ground rents in the enfranchisement calculation and prescribe rates to be used saving some leaseholders thousands of pounds. An online calculator will also be introduced to make it simpler for leaseholders to find out how much it will cost them to enfranchise. We are due to bring forward further leasehold reforms later in this Parliament.”
Lord Kennedy raised whether the minister would raise the LKP interview with Baroness Scott’s predecessor Lord Greenhalgh, in which he doubted that the leasehold reforms would be in the King’s Speech in November, with Secretary of State Michael Gove.
She replied: “I have already done so.”
Lord Kennedy also raised the issue, referred to in the interview with Lord Greenhalgh, of leaseholders who extended their leases being disqualified for financial aid under the Building Safety Act.
Baroness Scott said: “We are looking to resolve this issue as soon as Parliamentary time allows.”
Lord Young of Cookham, a former Conservative minister and leader of the Commons, asked whether these protections would apply retrospectively, but received a non-commital reply.
There was strong interest in leasehold expressed by several other lords including Lord Naseby and Baroness Thornhill, who referred to the “unsatisfactory service” of the First Tier Tribunal, and the 19th Earl of Devon, a former barrister, who raised the issue of commonhold, about which he had helped write a book after its introduction in 2002, and which he welcomed.
The only false note from a leaseholders’ viewpoint was made by Conservative peer Baroness [Ros] Altmann (“pensions expert and campaigner”) who urged that leasehold reforms did not neglect to reference the excellent landlords in the sector.
This prompted a bit of schmoozing from the junior minister, echoing this sentiment.
The point may be lost on both of them that whether freehold owning landlords in leasehold are good or bad, they have far too much power over the homes of ordinary people (which is also wholly disproportionate to any investment on their part).
Here, for example for the hundredth time, is the otherwise admirable Wellcome Trust spendig £114,000 to break a leaseholder who withheld only £6,000 in service charges. (Of course, Wellcome was advised by property managers over this issue):