Clause 1 - Regulated leases

Part of Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 7 December 2021.

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Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 9:25, 7 December 2021

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone, and to see the hon. Member for Weaver Vale still in his place following recent moves.

Government amendments 1 and 2, and Government amendments 3 to 5, which we will come to later, relate to the process known as a deemed surrender and regrant. For the benefit of those who are not experts in property law, me included, when the extent of the demise is changed—for example, where an extension is made to a property or to correct an error, or where there is an extension to the term of a lease—the lease is deemed to be surrendered and regranted to the leaseholder.

Government amendments 1 and 2 provide further protection for leaseholders in situations where that happens. Taken together, the two amendments disapply the requirement for a premium to be paid when a regulated lease or a lease granted before the Bill’s commencement day has been surrendered and regranted. In other words, a lease can have a peppercorn rent under this legislation after it has been regranted even if no new premium is paid.

Without these amendments, there is a significant risk that a previously regulated lease could cease to be regulated, leaving leaseholders to pay a potentially significant premium for a simple change, such as correcting an error within the lease, or leaving them to pay a ground rent. It might be helpful if I provided an example of such a situation. If a future leaseholder were to seek the correction of an error in their regulated lease and there was no premium charge for that correction, the Bill, as currently drafted, means that the lease would no longer be considered a regulated lease and therefore the peppercorn requirement would not be applicable to that newly corrected lease.

Amendments 1 and 2 will remove the requirement for a premium to have been paid for regulated and pre-commencement leases subject to a surrender and regrant, in order for the peppercorn rent to be applied. These amendments and the clarifications in amendments 3, 4 and 5 ensure that the Bill does not have unintended consequences when there is a deemed surrender and regrant and that there is fairness in the system for leaseholders and freeholders.