SUPPORTING LEASEHOLDERS

SIR PETER CAMPAIGNS ALONGSIDE THE LEASEHOLD KNOWLEDGE PARTNERSHIP FOR A POSITIVE IMPROVEMENT ON LEASEHOLD REGULATIONS IN BRITISH LAW.

I have for a long time campaigned for reforms to British law to end the injustice faced by leaseholders across the country. Below is a timeline of some of that work.

We can be grateful to the organisations and hard-working volunteers across the country that have been involved in this campaign. One charity that stands out is the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership who's aim is to cast a spotlight on crooked landowners and managing agents. Please consider signing this petition to abolish leasehold.

 

As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Commonhold Reform, I am also grateful to Justin Madders MP and Sir Edward Davey MP for their work to further this cross-party campaign in Parliament.

 

Cladding and Renters Reform Bill - March 2021

I was pleased to join the Private Rented Sector All-Party Parliamentary Group to discuss the Cladding and Renters Reform Bill. A summary of my words are below:

There are three types of tenants affected by problems with unsafe cladding: social tenants, who don’t have to pay costs of remediation; private tenants, who can leave their tenancy and move on; and finally, leaseholders who are stuck and unable to move on and as such have been most affected by problems around unsafe cladding despite them not being responsible for the problem in the first place.

We thank the Housing Secretary for the new funding provided by the Government to address unsafe cladding but argued that it is almost certainly £10 billion short of what is needed. Although a significant sum of money, it needs to be seen within the context of thousands of leaseholders who are stuck in unsafe, unsellable homes.

The representation of leaseholders is important. The National Leasehold Campaign and many MPs have woken up to this and the rest of this country would have woken up to this earlier if BBC had a Housing Editor.

There is a need to have a system of commonhold rather than leasehold. Ground rents need to be ended, and landlords need to be a fit and proper person.

Asked by Eve Willis from the Nationwide Building Society to what extent I felt the cladding problem will dent the public’s faith in the Conservative Party’s push for homeownership, I spoke of the need for local authorities/social landlords to be able to buy back flats sold under the right to buy to revert to them being tenanted properties. I also noted that an anomaly with shared ownership is that whilst someone might own 30% of a flat, they then have 100% of the responsibility for the costs of remediation work to remove unsafe cladding. I noted that the biggest problem for home ownership is the risk that the value of a home might go down. I argued that people need to be protected from taking on a risk they cannot afford, that is what is most damaging to the housing market.

The Earl of Lytton argued that those who provide construction warranties should have some responsibility for rectifying unsafe cladding. He also argued that the issue of problem cladding is also being conflated with other latent defects with buildings, arguing for the need to drill down to the parallel issue of basic failures to comply with the construction code at the time. He expressed concerns that the principle of “caveat emptor” allows people who would otherwise take responsibility from that to walk away and leave mayhem and grief in their wake. I argued for the need to learn from the fire courts following the great fire of London whereby leaseholders and landlords got together and got courts to establish rough and ready agreements on how liability should be apportioned. I noted that leaseholders cannot makes claims against owners from the building, as they have no “official legal interest” in the building. Secondly, I noted that the freeholder or landlord may not want to go into making a claim against builders/guarantors, leaseholders cannot afford to pay for it so government will need to find some way of getting the money which would come from the insurers/builders.

 

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP raised concerns that lenders largely do not recognise commonhold as a tenure. He raised a suggestion also that local authorities should consider buying back blocks of flats where the current landlord is not fit and proper. He suggested a fund to help councils to do this. I notedthat it does not necessarily require local authorities making the purchase.

Cladding Reform in Parliament - February 2021

I have been working on Leaseholders' problems for well over ten years with the support of Leasehold Knowledge Partnership. We can welcome the attention the Government is now giving leaseholders - they are beginning to understand the scale of the problems.

I gave the Government a clear roadmap of how to address the most critical issue currently facing leaseholders across the country - entrapment in dangerous Grenfell Tower-type clad buildings.

Firstly, making the money available so these buildings can be made safe.

Secondly, challenging the insurance industry who are putting premiums up at rates that should be investigated.

Thirdly, making sure that, in the end, the people who are responsible for this dangerous chaos will have to pay. That those who are responsible, not all knowingly, includes the developers, the builders, the landlords, local building control, national regulators, and the component manufacturers.

This has to be tackled in a way that cuts short waiting for court action which may take years. Work must start and be finished as soon as possible so people have homes they can live in safely or leave securely and are affordable.

Decisions need to be taken in Downing Street before more lives are wrecked and lost.

 

Talk RADIO Interview - January 2021

I spoke to Mark Dolan on talkRADIO about the issues facing leaseholders across the country in the wake of the Grenfell Tragedy.

There was a series of mistakes by everybody. Developers should not have put dangerous cladding on their buildings. Builders were wrong to use such cladding. Regulators were wrong not to have caught this. Within ten years this will have been sorted out in court and we will know who was to blame.

The one people who were not responsible are the innocent leasehold residents. The other two type of renters - social tenants who are not responsible for the costs, private tenants who can move on freely, but leaseholders are not. They have been burdened with the costs even though they do not own the building. Many are now trapped in a prison of rising costs, neglected buildings and increasing risks to their lives.

We are calling on the Government to indemnify these leaseholders. They are unequivocally not responsible for the mistakes of others and should not be imprisoned in unsafe housing whilst lawmakers argue about who IS responsible.

It is thanks to the support of many individuals, campaign groups and, finally, the media. TalkRADIO, the Daily Mail and The Times and The Sunday Times have been unequivocal in supporting this campaign and the wider fight for leasehold justice.

I encourage constituents and campaign supporters to listen to the discussion below and to look out for The Times article this Sunday.

Leasehold Reform on the Agenda - November 2020

I made an urgent request to the Leader of the House that this Government signal how they will address leasehold concerns regarding cladding, compounding ground rents and lease extension costs.

For the forty five years I have been here, I have been vocal in campaigning to support tenants and leaseholders in tower blocks. Over the last 15 years, I have been actively campaigning for each Government to accept the urgent need for leasehold reform. There are 6 million of them, at least 1 million affected by cladding issues and many more affected by lease extention costs.

It is important that the Government take action now and allow a debate in the House of Commons. Inaction is not acceptable. We need positive action, now.

 

Speaking to BBC Newsnight - August 2020

I spoke on BBC Newsnight regarding the ongoing cladding crisis for homeowners, leaseholders and commonholders across the country.

Regulations brought in after Grenfell require cladding safety checks for thousands of buildings and many are now struggling to sell their homes until they’re certified as safe.

The number of people involved in between six hundred thousand to a million whilst the number of available and qualified surveyors is probably as low as three hundred.

In too many cases, there is no need for a safety check yet the requirement is being expected on a blanket wide basis: a great deal of buildings are covered in safe varieties of cladding, some aren't even covered with any cladding yet they are all expected to comply with the expensive and incredibly time-consuming bureaucratic stranglehold. This is but the tip of the iceberg.

This is a form of slavery.

Those trapped are unable to take the jobs they want, they are unable to join households as a family, they are unable to live their lives as they have the right to. It is yet another form of abusive incarceration for those wishing simply for homeownership.

The Government can make up for what hasn’t happened yet. Thousands of lives should not be left on hold whilst the Government does nothing. This can and should end, now.

 
 

Requesting Urgent Action - May 2020

I asked the Secretary of State when the Government will act to ban the sale of leasehold and fleecehold houses and when he can announce actions for justice for leaseholders and renters stuck with excessive ground rents.

It is time that the Government made clear to landlords and developers that their financial games are over.

It is right that our housing industry begin to return to standard operation. Too many houses continue to be sold as shoddy and deceitful leasehold properties rather than the safe and secure homes we should be sold.

It is positive to hear that the Government has plans to shortly release legislation to be scrutinized by the House. I look forward to this and to helping to progress this important campaign.

Now, more than ever, people deserve security in their housing. This is one critical step to ensuring that. We can be grateful to the Secretary of State for the suggested progress.

 
 
 

Joining the Rally - February 2020

I was pleased to join with owners and leaseholders of high-rise apartments wrapped in combustible cladding yesterday.

The message was clear, for the Prime Minister and Government to release billions of pounds to end a national fire safety crisis that continues nearly 1,000 days after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Our job as MPs is to listen to you. It is the Government's job to listen to both the public and to the Parliament and to make the decisions that improve lives nationwide.

Alongside LKP, we were the first to realise the living hell that would go beyond the Grenfell tragedy with regards to dangerous life threatening cladding.

I will go on doing what I can to make sure that effective action is taken and that the financial burden does not fall on the people least able to pay.

A New Parliament with New Priorities - December 2019

Following the election of a new parliament, I spoke to Adam Bolton about the campaign so far for Leasehold and Commonhold reform.

It is thanks to the support of many; inside and out of Parliament, who work tirelessly for the campaign. During the General Election, the issue came up on many doorsteps across predictably every constituency in the country. There is a need and a deep desire for radical change. Six million leaseholders are at risk of being abused.

We can expect the Government to come forwards with major legislative changes to the sector.

Leasehold Knowledge Partnership Summer Reception - July 2019

We thank a number of dedicated and exemplary individuals for the progress we have made in advancing the campaign for leasehold reform.

They are to be commended and applauded for everything they have given to bring the campaign this far. That is precisely what we did yesterday afternoon at the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership Summer Reception held in Parliament.

Martin Boyd and Sebastian O'Kelly of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership have achieved a great amount. I was pleased to join with my colleague and friend, Jim Fitzpatrick Mp, in presenting an award to LKP from the APPG recognising their outstanding achievements in the residential leasehold sector.

We were also pleased to applaud the work of the National Leasehold Campaign: Abolish Leasehold; Katie Kendrick, Joanne Darbyshire and Catherine Williams.

Also present, ensuring the success of the Reception, was Katherine from my team. She supports the APPG in everything it does. We are each and all grateful to her for her initiative, care and imagination.

Gavin Barwell, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, apologised for not being able to present the award. He said he knows 'LKP will continue to play a key role in what is to come.'

We can celebrate our success thus far and we inspire each other to go further.

We are determined and together are making a significant difference, still there is much to do on leasehold and commonhold reform.

DHCLG Questions - June 2019

We owe it to a number of people for the progress we have made in dealing with the scourge of Leasehold.

At the end of the last month, the Government announced that Leaseholdwould be banned on all new-build houses. But the ban only applies to new homes meaning properties already built can still be sold asleasehold - as can new-build flats.

This shows that progress has and can be made, but there is still more to do. Cooperation and interaction between the Government, the Opposition and supporters across the country is going to lead to significant progress unmatched for decades.

Martin Boyd, Sebastian O'Kelly and the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership have achieved a great amount. Martin has given a direct list of a number of times the Government appointed Leasehold Advisory Service through its conferences and publications has allowed and, I would say, encouraged expertise in how to exploit residential leaseholders.

I made the suggestion to the Minister to invite, and if she wouldn't do it, to instruct the Chair of Leasehold Advisory Service to invite the Chair of Leasehold Knowledge Partnership to come to LEASE offices and meet the staff. If there are problems, they can be dealt with quietly. If there aren't problems, we will know we can go on cooperating.

Progress can be made when we work together for the same goal. We all want a solution.

Cladding Forum - May 2019

In May, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Commonhold held a meeting focused entirely on providing a forum on cladding and the issues being faced by leaseholders and renters up and down the country following the tragedy at Grenfell.

Several prominent and knowledgable individuals and groups spoke at the forum, discussing the need for conclusive action and support from the Government to protect the lives of thousands across the country.

Manchester councillor Suzanne Richards has been at the forefront of representing leaseholders caught up in the Grenfell cladding scandal. She spoke about how the potential for developers to pay up had been exhausted in the city and acentuated the need for government funding.

 

In direct response to this, the following morning Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said it would be forthcoming. 

Officers of the APPG welcome this positive announcement by the Prime Minister and the Communities Secretary. We all continue to be very grateful to the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership (LKP) and the UK Cladding Action Group UKCAG for “early identification of the perilous situation of private leaseholders in high rise buildings. 

 

At the beginning of May, I requested that the Secretary of State acknowledge the positive action of groups such as the LKP in raising awareness of the dangerous issues being faced up and down the country. You can view his response here.

 

Our call for effective action is being met. 

We offer to help make it work fairly and fast.

APPG Meeting - May 2019

At the recent APPG on leasehold reform meeting that I co-chair, we were privileged to hear several important individuals and groups leading the way on leasehold and commonhold reform. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Commonhold Reform (APPG) welcomed a report from Helen Hayes MP on the excellent inquiry into leasehold and commonhold reform by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Select Committee.

Law Commissioner Professor Nicholas Hopkins, a regular speaker at the APPG provided an update on reform and the President of the First Tier (Property) Tribunal Siobhan McGrath spoke about new approaches to resolving legal disputes, placing much emphasis on mediation.

MHCLG Senior Officials, Director of Private Rented Sector Anne Frost and Deputy Director Lakhbir Hans updated the Group on their Department’s work on leasehold and commonhold reform.

Principle Matthew Jupp on behalf of Mortgages for UK Finance expressed the general consensus of lenders on the subject of commonhold and how lenders are keen to engage with this.

This comes after the government confirmed funding to cover the costs of removing cladding from high-rise buildings where leaseholders were facing spiralling costs to live safely. 

As ever we are grateful to the APPG Secretariat, Martin Boyd together with Sebastian O’ Kelly of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership for their ongoing dedication and hard work for leasehold reform.

Still, there is much more work to do.

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Question to the Secretary of State - 6 March 2019

On the 26th of February, I wrote to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for an answer to the following:

 

What steps the Secretary of State is taking to help leaseholders with onerous leases.

 

I received the attached response earlier this week from Heather Wheeler MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Homelessness:

"The Government is clear that unfair practices have no place in a modern housing market. That is why we are putting pressure on developers and freeholders to vary onerous lease terms, such as those with doubling ground rents. Some developers have introduced schemes to assist individuals which is welcome, but this support must be extended to include second hand buyers, and leaseholders proactively contacted. We are keeping a close eye on progress and will consider taking further action as necessary.

We are also working with the Law Commission to make it faster, fairer and cheaper for existing leaseholders to extend their lease or buy the freehold. In addition, we have worked with Trading Standards to ensure there is better information on redress, and they recently published guidance to help leaseholders understand where to go if things go wrong, and how they can access support."

The Minister's answer is positive, but there is more to do. I want commonhold and leasehold to be easy, fair and safe for all. Information may not be enough when there is a systemic problem. We can all aspire to our own home, it should be a respected right.

House of Commons - 10 December 2018

During the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government's weekly questions, I drew his attention to the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership's concerns regarding the Government Help to Buy Scheme.

The Government must ensure that everyone is given the right and opportunity to purchase their own home, especially when concerning a Government led scheme.

Current understanding and advice from the Government does not ensure commonhold purchasing rights for individuals when they live in flats. The rules can and should be changed quickly. 

A simple action can enable people up and down our country to live comfortably and securely.

The Secretary of State's response is positive but does not go far enough in reinsuring those affected by this easily corrected issue.

Downing Street - 4 December 2018

I was pleased to be joined by Martin Boyd, Chair of Trustees at Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, in taking the issues faced by leaseholders across the country directly to the Prime Minister and her team. 

Those behind the campaign share many concerns with the Government's most recent progress, namely the Tenants’ Associations Regulations.

Over recent months, the campaign to end the Leasehold Scandal has seen many positive steps forwards. The concerns and evidence has been heard by the Communities, Housing and Local Government Select Committee.

 

Multiple meetings have been had with the Secretary of State. Government legislation has been brought forwards to address many of these issues. However, problems persist and current proposals are not good enough.

 

We continue to press the Government to unequivocally address the issue and today's meeting was one step forwards.

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Meeting the Prime Minister's team with Martin Boyd, Chair of Trustees at LKP

House of Commons - 5 November 2018

I asked the Secretary of State confirmation that he is committed to addressing those already affected by unfair and unjustifiable leasehold issues. 

I also requested that the Secretary of State meet together with official bodies, charities and campaigners representing those affected (such as Leasehold Knowledge Partnership). It is critical that the Government's response reflects and represents those affected by such practises, not those enacting them. 

The Secretary of State's response positively shows that the Government is becoming increasingly aware and concerned with the issues of leaseholders.

House of Commons - 5 November 2018

I asked the Secretary of State confirmation that he is committed to addressing those already affected by unfair and unjustifiable leasehold issues. 

I also requested that the Secretary of State meet together with official bodies, charities and campaigners representing those affected (such as Leasehold Knowledge Partnership). It is critical that the Government's response reflects and represents those affected by such practises, not those enacting them. 

The Secretary of State's response positively shows that the Government is becoming increasingly aware and concerned with the issues of leaseholders.

Leasehold Newspaper Article - August 2018

My article for the Worthing Herald, Thursday the 2nd of August.

Leasholders' rights has always been a very important campaign for me, seeing the injustices and dangers faced by many people unwittingly drawn into such dubious contracts. This week I discuss the ongoing campaign alongside Jim Fitzpatrick Mp, Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, and the National Leasehold Campaign ( NLC ), and why it is a fight worth fighting.

"When a constituent around retirement age approached me about unfair payments being demanded by the freeholder of his block of leasehold flats, I did not expect to be drawn into a lasting national campaign for fairness and freedom for residential leaseholders. The local case was quickly resolved with the expertise and a day freely given by a barrister through the Pro Bono Unit..."

To view this article in whole, please visit here.

House of Commons - 23rd July 2018

Today I urged the Government to take action in ensuring that leaseholders are not left in severe danger due to highly-combustable cladding being left on tower blocks up and down the country.

It is urgent that freehold companies take responsibility for their negligent actions in using unsafe cladding. It is also critical that leaseholders are not left out-of-pocket for it's removal. 

Families are facing enormous bills and risk losing their homes and livelihoods because of profit-hungry companies that put profit ahead of their tenants' lives.

The Minister's response is reassuring, but highlights that there is still more work to be completed in ensuring the lessons from Grenfell are learned. I look forwards to continuing to work alongside such charities and groups as Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and National Leasehold Campaign in ensuring this.

National Leasehold Campaign Rally in Westminster - July 2018

The injustices faced by leaseholders up and down this country are scandalous and too often simply overlooked.

The people who are the innocents in this are the leaseholders: often first-time buyers; often under the Government ‘help-to-buy’ scheme, and they have now been exposed to a scandal which is even worse, in my view, than the PPI scandal.

On Wednesday 18th July I was pleased to join with my colleagues from across the political spectrum as we rallied outside of Parliament to urge the Government to take action.

The consequences of inaction have become painstakingly clear. People's livelihoods have been ruined, their homes taken away from them, and in some case where the removal of highly dangerous cladding has been delayed, their lives have been put at critical danger. All of this for the sake of profit.

I will continue to work alongside Leasehold Knowledge Partnershipand other key partners to further this important campaign against injustice.

Leasehold and Commonhold APPG Meeting and Reception - April 2018

The recent All-Party Group meeting on leasehold and commonhold reform to which Sir Peter is Co-chair was a great success with over 80 attendees from within the leasehold sector including the legal profession.  The APPG is certainly going from strength to strength.  

 

Speakers included John Hall, Director at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, who updated MPs and leasehold sector insiders on government action to outlaw leasehold houses and reduce ground rents to as low as zero.

 

Law Commissioner Professor Nicholas Hopkins outlined progress on his review of leasehold enfranchisement and extension, and commonhold.

 

From the floor, Conservative MP, Andrew Selous raised the issue of those who had bought a lease with doubling ground rent as a re-sale, who are not covered in any of the redress schemes so far proposed by the housebuilders.

 

After the meeting there was a drinks reception to celebrate the achievements of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, which is also the secretariat of the APPG, in finally getting leasehold reform onto the government’s agenda.

Sir Peter with two representatives, Srikant Alla and Anuj Vats, of the 95-flat Citiscape site in Croydon, where Barratt – which built the site 17 years ago is picking up the tab to replace the Grenfell cladding and pay for fire marshals.

Lakhbir Hans, Deputy Director of Homelessness, Leasehold, and Private Renting in Ministry for Housing, Communities, and Local Government.

House of Commons - April 2018

Today, Sir Peter Bottomley MP welcomed the newly appointed Secretary of State for Department for Housing, Communities, and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP, and invited him to address the issues faced by leaseholders across the country with regards to highly hazardous cladding and the battle to ensure that they are not unfairly burdened with the cost of addressing issues that were outside of their control.

The Secretary of State's response was highly positive and signals a reignited campaign to further defend the rights of leaseholders up and down the United Kingdom.

You can view a video of the discussion below:

House of Commons - March 2018

During today's update regarding the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for the Department for Housing, Communities, and Local Government, accepted Sir Peter's advice to bring together the most important and experienced actors and bodies to address the issue swiftly.

Many leaseholders, not only in Worthing but across the country, are being left in danger due to a severe delay in removing unsafe cladding from buildings. The Secretary of State has the opportunity now to ensure that the safety of leaseholders across the country is addressed urgently and resolutely.

You can view a video of the discussion below:

House of Commons - March 2018

Following a statement regarding the Grenfell Tower tragedy and subsequent measures to address dangerous cladding, Sir Peter Bottomley MP today urged Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government, to bring together key actors and stakeholders in order to finalise a deal and get the dangerous cladding removed and replaced with the upmost urgency.

You can view a video of the discussion below, or follow this link to see both his recommendation to the Secretary of State and his response: https://parliamentlive.tv/hoc

Westminster Hall Debate on Grenfell Cladding - March 2018

Today, Sir Peter Bottomley MP spoke out in support of both leaseholders and tenants, calling on the Government to hasten the determination of liability for fire safety remedial work, ensuring that the Government, local authorities, and those involved can swiftly move forwards with making the necessary improvements to protect lives both in Worthing, West Sussex and across the country.

 

This is an issue of extreme importance, especially following the atrocity of Grenfell Tower.

You can watch a brief segment of the speech in Westminster Hall below, or follow this link to see the speech in its entirety, as well as the rest of the debate: https://parliamentlive.tv/whd

Holiday and Home Parks Conference

Sir Peter spoke at the annual British Holiday and Park Homes Association conference at the QEII Centre in Westminster. He joined Sonia McColl and the Justice Group. Sir Peter delivered a passionate call for the park home industry to help drive out bad operators and provide greater justice to tenants.

He told the audience: 'Those who suffer need their voices heard.'

For more information on the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, click HERE

Leasehold Reform Breakthrough

On 21 December Sajid Javid announced the Government's plans to ban leaseholds for new build houses. Ground rents will be set to zero for new leases. This means home buyers will be better protected from unnecessary leaseholds and unjustifiable charges.

Sir Peter spoke on the issue during the day in a Westminster Hall debate. 

Speaking to MPs across the House, he said: 'Leasehold is a form of residential tenure that has been abolished in most places around the world. It should be ended in this country. People can be exploited by scoundrels, crooks, rogues and those who exploit the law by making those who are badly off even worse off. Through some legal stratagems, they can manage to take away the last assets that some people have.'

You can watch the debate HERE.