Clause 19 is included to prevent a potential loophole whereby a landlord might charge an administration fee in relation to a peppercorn rent. This measure is achieved by amending the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, thereby requiring that no administration charge is payable in relation to the collection of any ground rent that is restricted to a peppercorn by this Bill. Subsection (5) provides a leaseholder with recourse to redress, if needed. It enables a leaseholder to apply to the first-tier tribunal in England or to a leasehold valuation tribunal in Wales for an order varying the lease on the ground that such an administration charge is not payable.
A further measure, should it be needed, is included in subsection (6), which amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. This enables a leaseholder to apply to the relevant tribunal to request that it makes an order appointing a manager where prohibited administration charges have been made. A tribunal-appointed manager does not act on behalf of the landlord; they are appointed by the tribunal to take over the landlord’s right to manage the building. This is a strong measure, intended to provide a deterrent to help ensure that a landlord does not continue to seek administration charges in relation to a peppercorn rent under the Bill. Clause 19 is necessary to ensure we guard against any potential loopholes in this legislation.
I welcome clause 19. The interest in charges that are applied under various titles is well documented. I think the clause does close a loophole. Of course, the Opposition have stated our desire and concern to see these provisions extended to some 4.5 million leaseholds. There are 1.5 million households that are in leaseholds, with some 270,000 in the north-west and a similar figure in Wales. This measure obviously applies to those going forward. I welcome the clause within the narrow scope of the Bill.