Amendment 12

Part of Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 22 April 2024.

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Photo of Lord Bailey of Paddington Lord Bailey of Paddington Conservative 4:15, 22 April 2024

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Stevenage. I do not want to rehearse the reasons why I think that a mandatory share of the freehold is necessary, in the way that the noble Baroness laid out. I want to speak more to the contact that I have had with so many different groups and individuals who feel that they are trapped in their leasehold.

The number one thing that comes up is, of course, service charge abuse. Which? did a study in 2011 which suggested that £700 million in service charges had been overcharged. The market for that has grown now to £7.6 billion, so we can only assume that this overcharging has grown along with it.

The challenge becomes: how do we make this market fair? How do we make sure that these abuses are washed away? That is to give the people paying the bills control, and not to lock them into the monopoly that leaseholders are currently locked into. Ultimately, the answer would be commonhold, but while commonhold is not on the table, we need to look at a share of the freehold. It should be mandatory, and it should happen straightaway. The noble Baroness laid out very eloquently the benefits that this would give to leaseholders.

We must understand that leaseholders do not want a landlord; that is why they have left the private rented sector—to avoid landlords. These amendments should stand. They really give leaseholders what they want. I have tabled an amendment which asks the Government to retain the power to bring forward a share of the freehold on new flats. That is the most important thing going on here.