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Peers label Gove's leasehold reforms 'unambitious' and 'disappointing'

leasehold reform

Peers debating the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill were almost unanimous in their belief that it doesn’t go far enough to protect leaseholders.

During its second reading in the House of Lords, it was labelled “disappointing”, a “shell of a bill” and “unambitious”. Labour peers promised that their party would finish the job of bringing leasehold to an end under a new government.

In response to concerns that plans to restrict ground rents to a peppercorn had been dropped due to lobbying by freehold-owning investors and pension funds, Housing Minister, Baroness Scott of Bybrook, said she understood the strength of feeling among peers.


She added: “We are aware that reforms to protect leaseholders will have a negative impact on those who benefit from ground rent income and are carefully considering this as we formulate our policy - that’s why we’re studying the consultation very carefully.”

Labour’s Baroness Taylor of Stevenage said it was incomprehensible that recommendations around regulation of property agents weren’t included, a view echoed by the Lib Dem’s Baroness Thornhill, who added she was disappointed that commonhold wasn’t being made the main tenure.

Baroness Bybrook replied that the government was committed to commonhold reform and saw it as a long-term replacement for leasehold.

Other peers criticised the government for not extending the sale of new leasehold houses to flats, while Conservative Lord Bailey of Paddington called for it to “turbo charge” the right to manage. He added: “Forfeiture…is a gangster-like power routinely used to abuse and extort money from hapless leaseholders under the threat of losing their home.”

Lord Thurlow argued that the abolition of marriage value would result in a huge transfer of wealth. “Many investors have bought leasehold flats to sublet…are buy-to-let landlords, foreign investors – for them this bill is the Christmas present of all time – having cheaply extended the leasehold they will put it for sale.”

The debate in full.