Estates and Management Ltd.

Deputy Prime Minister written question – answered on 16th December 2004.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Chair, Education & Skills Committee, Chair, Education & Skills Committee

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will investigate (a) the activities of Estates and Management Ltd. and (b) its treatment of leaseholders in England and Wales.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Minister of State (Housing and Planning), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not have the power to carry out investigations of companies that own and/or manage residential leasehold properties. Investigations into companies under company law are the responsibility of the Companies Investigations Branch at the Department of Trade and Industry, who are able to consider applications for, and carry out investigations.

However, through the wide-ranging leasehold provisions in the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has significantly improved the rights of long leaseholders. These provisions include the right to ask a leasehold valuation tribunal to determine the liability to pay, and the reasonableness of, administration charges.

On 16 November the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also made the 5th Commencement Order which will bring into force the latest phase of provisions to protect leaseholders and improve their rights. These will include the requirement for landlords to demand ground rent in a prescribed manner before being able to take any action or imposing penalties for late payment, and will prevent landlords from forfeiting leases as a result of trivial debts consisting of ground rent, service charges and administration charges (or a combination of them) where the debt does not exceed £350, unless all or any part of the sum has been outstanding for more than three years. These provisions will come into effect from 28 February 2005.

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