Clause 26 - Commencement

Part of Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 9 December 2021.

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Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 11:30, 9 December 2021

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. I will no doubt refer later to meetings I have had, including as recently as yesterday, with representatives from the sector. It is not necessarily for us to prescribe how they might change their business models, but different developers in the sector certainly take different approaches. Given that we signalled one intention and subsequently changed to another, I think we are striking the right balance in allowing a transition period.

In the other place, arguments were raised on both sides; there were those who wished to extend the transition period and those who wished to remove it. As I said, conversations are ongoing, including as recently as yesterday, and hon. Members including my right hon. Friends the Members for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) and for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) have been in favour of amending the transition period for the sector.

We acknowledge that the retirement sector has had less time to prepare than the rest of the development industry. However, we have given the matter careful consideration, and we believe the transition period in the Bill strikes the right balance between protecting retirement property consumers and providing a fair period of adjustment for developers. In my conversation with representatives yesterday, it was clear that prospective purchasers are already aware of the planned legislation—they seem to be a well-informed group—and I guess they will be mindful of that when deciding when to complete their purchase.

With regard to hon. Members’ concerns about the impact, I think it will be minimal for two reasons. First, the people who buy this type of property seem to take longer to make the purchase than would perhaps otherwise be the case; in fact, the sell-out rate for such properties is considerably slower than for normal residential properties. Buyers have a greater period over which to consider the purchase, and they frequently visit several times—first by themselves, and subsequently with members of their family—so this is a very considered purchase. Secondly, they seem to be well-informed about the changes to legislation. For those reasons, I feel they will be protected.