Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill

On Tuesday 27 February 2024 the House considered the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill.

The Bill would make long-term changes  intended to improve homeownership for leaseholders and freeholders in England and Wales. The Bill seeks to implement Government commitments to improve choice and make leasehold fairer. It also takes forward many of the leasehold reform recommendations made by the Law Commission in 2020. Although I consider this legislation lacks ambition, I recognise that this limited Bill will provide some relief from the unjust and discriminatory practices that our archaic leasehold system facilitates. For that reason, I supported the passage of the Bill at this stage.

I supported amendments tabled by the Opposition which attempted to strengthen the Bill and rectify some of the problems within it. For example, I was in favour of proposals to prohibit landlords from claiming litigation costs from tenants, other than under limited circumstances determined by the Secretary of State.

Additional Opposition amendments which I supported, would have ensured leases on new flats required a residents’ management company to be established, and would have removed the power of repossession of a freehold property where a freeholder fails to pay. These amendments were not voted on. Three of the Opposition’s amendments were voted on, including one to ensure that all leaseholders have the right to vary their lease and replace rent with peppercorn rent.

In addition, an amendment was considered to stop landlords being able to terminate a lease and seek repossession for a breach of terms or an unpaid debt of more than £350. Finally, the House considered a change that would have made sure that when determining deferment rates, consideration should be given to allowing leaseholders to acquire the freehold at the lowest possible cost. I backed these amendments but unfortunately, they were defeated by Government MPs. I supported the Bill overall at Third Reading. It will now progress through the House of Lords.

Mr Marcus Jones signified King’s consent, as far as His Majesty’s interest is concerned.

Mr Marcus Jones signified Prince of Wales’s consent, as far as his interest is concerned.

The Bill was read the third time and passed.