Consumer Rights Bill — Report (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 26th November 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 9:45 pm, 26th November 2014

My Lords, we are very happy to support this amendment, which would ensure that tenants do not end up being charged a share of the landlord’s legal costs which were perhaps incurred when he was challenging those very same leaseholders, as the noble Baroness has said. That makes sense and I hope the Government will accept the amendment.

While I am standing, perhaps I might report to the House the outcome of our discussions in Committee on the rights of leaseholders. In that case, the discussion was on insurance and the difficulty which leaseholders have in seeing the underlying information in the insurance policy, as the contract is actually between the landlord and the insurer. Partly because of that and partly because the cost is passed onto tenants by the landlord, there is no incentive for the landlord to shop around for a better deal.

I received a letter today from the ABI, which agreed with the statement that I had made in Committee that leaseholders should have increased opportunities to engage in the process when the managing agent purchases insurance and that the landlord, as the client of the insurer, should request relevant information from the insurer. The ABI supports leaseholders being given clear and timely information about the insurance contract. The letter from the ABI suggests the sort of information that should be provided before the contract is signed, including any commission paid to the agent. While the Government were not able to accept the amendment in Committee, it is very good that the knock-on effect has been that it will become a note of good practice, which should have some impact on leaseholders. I hope the Government will now accept this amendment and help them in that way, too.