Stephen Greenhalgh is the housing minister who will take over responsibility for leasehold reform, as well as continue with his work on building safety.
With various landlord and tenant legal experts damning the Building Safety Bill variously as “a car crash” and “a dog’s dinner”, leaseholders might be forgiven for wondering whether this is particularly good news.
But it is, as Lord Greenhalgh is rather less political than the appointments in the Commons and he does have a pretty good knowledge of this sector having been involved in housing since Boris Johnson was mayor of London. Nor can the Building Safety Bill be laid at his door; it goes higher up the food chain.
LKP has had numerous meetings with Lord Greenhalgh thanks to video conferencing; rather more than we have had with any previous housing ministers.
So it is good news for leaseholders that we are not having to start all over again and try to tutor an elected shire Tory into the iniquities of English leasehold law which predominantly affects cities.
The Building Safety Bill has serious implications for leaseholders, as will be made clear. Indeed, the cladding scandal has caused the biggest crisis for the leasehold sector in a generation. It dwarfs the doubling ground rent scandal, where the Competition and Markets Authority announced enforcement action last month.
The cladding scandal will become ever more pressing in the autumn and the winter as the costs mount for the leaseholders affected and 10,000s of young first time buyers face uncertain employment.
Aside from the disaster, we now have the issues of:
- the repeated government promise to set new ground rents to zero and ban leasehold houses;
- the government action in response to the Law Commission leasehold reform proposals;
- the long outstanding Law Commission reform of leasehold law’s unjustifiable forfeiture laws;
- the Law Commission’s repeated requests to carry out a systemic study of leasehold laws and reform the lot. This wish is repeated in the introductions of all its law reform reports.
So it is good that we have a minister in charge who a/ understands this stuff; b/ doesn’t appear to be beguiled by the lobby that cheers on our greedy, inept and hugely subsidised house building sector.
So, welcome to the not entirely harmonious world of leasehold, Lord Greehalgh.