Clause 40 - Estate management charges: general limitations

Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 25 January 2024.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Minister of State (Minister for Housing)

Clause 40 sets out general limitations with regard to estate management charges. Subsection (1) states:

“A charge demanded as an estate management charge is payable…only to the extent that the amount of the charge reflects relevant costs”— in other words, purely the costs associated with estate management—and cannot be used to fund wider activities. This means that not every cost incurred by an estate manager is chargeable; an example would be if costs arose from the award of damages against the estate manager or an activity outside the estate by the estate manager that is not regulated. Those costs cannot be passed on.

Subsection (2) goes on to set out more detailed circumstances in which costs that are relevant costs may cease to become relevant costs and hence not payable or only partially payable.

Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller Conservative, North East Bedfordshire

I want to probe a bit more, because of the speed with which we shot through clause 39—with your leave, Chair, I am sure you will find this in order, because clause 40 also relates to relevant costs. Clause 39(10) says that relevant costs,

“in relation to a dwelling, means costs which are incurred by an estate manager in carrying out estate management for the benefit of the dwelling or for the benefit of the dwelling and other dwellings.”

As the Government were considering clauses 39 and 40, the general limitations on what might be a relevant cost, what consideration did the Minister or the Government give to the fact that there are some costs that might be covered within that general limitation that, for some people, are covered by payments they make through their council tax? Therefore, in certain circumstances it may be the case that people are paying twice for the same services covered by what are defined as estate management running costs.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Minister of State (Minister for Housing)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his point. He tempts me, at this relatively late hour, to get into an extremely important conversation that we will come to in the coming days. With his leave, I will limit my response to acknowledging his broader point, which is potentially broader than simply the discussions here on this Bill. Having listened to the evidence given to the Committee last week, I recognise that this is a key area that those impacted by estate management charges would like to debate further. I know that we will come to this in due course. I am putting that down as a marker for further discussion—I am not sure if I can satisfy him with the discussion, but I will put down a marker for it none the less.

To conclude on clause 40, specifically, subsection (2) refers to the provisions in clauses 41 to 43, which cover the requirement for the reasonableness of estate management costs and broader consultation requirements. Clause 40 provides clarity that not all costs incurred by estate managers may be passed on and sets out circumstances when even chargeable costs are not payable. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 40 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Mr Mohindra.)

Adjourned till Tuesday 30 January at twenty-five minutes past Nine o’clock.

LFRB57 Bowlwonder Ltd (further submission)

LFRB58 Paul Robertson

LFRB59 The Conveyancing Association (supplementary)

LFRB60 CommonholdNow