The Leasehold Reform Bill, piloted by Simon Hughes and co-sponsored by 11 other MPs, looks set to start serious progress through the Commons today, with cross-party political support. Mr Hughes’ Bill is the Second Bill listed for debate today (22nd February). Andrew Miller’s Temporary and Agency Workers Bill, the only Bill ahead of Mr Hughes’ Bill, is expected to complete its second reading in time to allow the Leasehold Reform Bill to start and possibly complete its Second Reading this afternoon.
The Leasehold Reform Bill, which is aimed at giving greater rights to people who live in leasehold properties bought from local councils in England and Wales, would make a number of much needed improvements which would benefit hundreds of thousands of leaseholders across the country.
The main proposals in the Leasehold Reform Bill are to:
make sure leaseholders can only be hit for £250 a month for service charges
set up a system for councils to buy back a percentage of the property where the residential leaseholder needs help to meet costs and service charges
allow all leaseholders to set up an individual sinking fund with their council to help finance capital works
give leaseholders the chance to have their plans for works implemented when at least a quarter propose a plan which then gains majority support
give leaseholders and councils the option of resolving disputes through local arbitration rather than nationally
In the London Borough of Southwark alone, which includes Mr Hughes’ North Southwark & Bermondsey constituency, this Bill would potentially affect over 13,000 households*.
Simon Hughes said:
‘Since Mrs Thatcher introduced the Right to Buy in the early eighties, tens of thousands of families have ended up as leaseholders of local councils up and down the land.
25 years later, council leaseholders are still struggling for a fair deal.
My Bill is a response to the continuing concerns of young and old houseowners alike who struggle to pay the Bills and feel they have too little say over their homes.
I hope the government will make a positive response to this serious attempt to produce a better deal for council leaseholders.’
London Borough of Southwark currently has sold over 1,300 freehold properties, over 13,000 leasehold properties and keeps over 41,000 tenanted properties.