I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Member’s Financial Interests and to the fact that I am a leaseholder. Ten days ago, I met some of my residents who are leaseholders. They are yet another group of residents in Hackney who are frustrated by the inaction and slow actions of their freeholder. They desperately want commonhold and yet, despite a manifesto commitment in 2019 and promises from Secretaries of State in each of the past three years, we have seen nothing from this Government. Why is this dither and delay continuing?
I do not agree that there has been dither and delay. We have already capped ground rents for significant numbers of leaseholders. We are committed to creating a housing system that works for everyone. We are determined to better protect and empower leaseholders to challenge unreasonable costs, extend the benefits of freehold ownership to more homeowners, and introduce more legislation within this Parliament.
There is no clearer example of the need for leasehold reform than in my constituency. The leaseholders from Rathbone Square and their affordable housing neighbours at 14 Newman Street are having a nightmare with their co-owners, WestInvest and Deka, and the managing agents, CBRE. There is no transparency. The affordable housing residents are being charged five times more for their energy. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we do need to ensure that there is a complete shake-up of leasehold reform and of property management in general?
Yes, my hon. Friend is absolutely right and I thank her for bringing the concerns of her residents to the Floor of the House. We are determined to reform this system. It is a hugely complex reform. I point out to the House that Labour had the opportunity to do this in its 13 years in government and did nothing.
Almost every country in the world has banned leaseholds. We are tired in York of nearly every development putting in place new leasehold arrangements, extracting thousands of pounds from residents, so that when they move into what is often their “forever” home, they are having to pay out more and more, which then leaves them trapped in that form of accommodation. When will the Government bring forward commonhold, because we have been waiting for it for far too long and seen no action?
It is right to point out to the hon. Lady that, since the Government’s announcement in December 2017 that we would ban the sale of leasehold houses, the number of newbuild leasehold houses coming on to the market has significantly decreased. Land Registry records show that 1.2 % of newbuild houses were registered as leasehold in 2020 compared with 17% previously, so the Government’s reforms are already working, but we need to bring forward more legislation, and we will do so.
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Obviously, as a Minister at the Dispatch Box today, I cannot pre-empt what is in the King’s Speech, but I am sure that my hon. Friend will recall the number of times that not only I, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, have stood at this very Dispatch Box and made those commitments very strongly and I am happy to repeat them today.
In an Opposition Day Debate that took place before the recess, the Minister claimed that there has been no Government U-turn on leasehold reform. She also refused to commit to the fundamental and comprehensive reform package that leaseholders had been led to expect was forthcoming. Can she give the House and the country a straight answer today: will the Government legislate to implement all of the Law Commission’s recommendations on enfranchisement, commonhold and the right to manage before the end of this Parliament—yes or no?
The hon. Gentleman will remember I am sure the detailed debate that we had on this very issue where we dug into many questions that he and many others asked. I have given my answers from this Dispatch Box. I have been very clear that we will bring forward comprehensive reforms to leasehold, which is something the Opposition failed to do for the whole time they were in Government. We have made a start, and we will make good on that promise.