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 Baroness Pinnock Baroness Pinnock Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Levelling Up, Communities and Local Government) 4:15, 22 April 2024

My Lords, we on these Benches far prefer a move to commonhold. The journey towards commonhold is a solution to the leasehold/freehold issue.

I understand why the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Stevenage, and the noble Lord, Lord Bailey, have proposed a share of freehold as a route towards commonhold as being the ideal solution, as recommended by the detailed report from the Law Commission in 2020. However, it is only a small step, and it is an option that is already being exercised by some flat owners.

It seems to me that the disadvantage of share of freehold is that, in practice, it will be possible only for blocks of flats with a small number of units. Where there is a large number of units in a single block, it would be very difficult to have a share of freehold for some but not others. It will be interesting to hear what the Minister and the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Stevenage, think.

We on these Benches support any move that enables leaseholders to gain some full ownership rights over the home in which they live. However, I am not yet convinced that this is the route to go down. If this is accepted by the Government, it will probably be seen as a further barrier to the promotion and reinvigoration of the option of commonhold, which, after all, has been in existence since 2002. This alternative was investigated by the Law Commission, which came down in favour of commonhold—that is the subject of the next group, for which I will move the lead amendment. It is a small step in the right direction, but whether it is the step that will lead to commonhold has yet to be seen.