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 Jim Fitzpatrick MP and Sir Edward Davey MP for their work to further this campaign in Parliament.

 

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.

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.

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.

18 October 2017: Regulation of Property Agents

Sir Peter spoke in the UK House of Commons regarding the regulation of property agents.

The Housing Minister Alok Sharma launched a call for evidence into the property agents' market, which Sir Peter wholeheartedly supports.

Currently a lack of minimum standards allows unscrupulous agents to enter the market. Anyone is able to become a property agent, regardless of their background, skills and experience.

You can read a transcript of the exchange here:

Sir Peter Bottomley MP:

'The all-party parliamentary group on leasehold and commonhold reform, which I co-chair along with the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick), will be grateful for the Minister’s remarks. We will submit more evidence.

I put it to the Minister that it will be quite important for people to be able to submit their evidence to the consultation confidentially. There are so many crooks and dodgy people around that there may be threats of legal action, such as the one I received from Carter-Ruck on behalf of Barry Weir when I was looking after a park home resident. Ordinary people cannot face that; Members of Parliament can...

Alok Sharma:

'I pay tribute to my hon. Friend. He and the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) have done brilliant work as co-chairs of the APPG. He talks about people being able to give information anonymously, and we will of course not release the individual names of those who give evidence when the consultation’s outcome is published.

As for the two references to particular individuals made by my hon. Friend, I suggest that we speak about those other matters after this debate.'

You can watch my contribution by clicking HERE and skipping to 13:12:33 on the media player.

You can watch the Minister's statement from the beginning by skipping to 12:50:21.

APPG Meeting - September 2017

Ground rents should simply be banned; commonhold introduced and made compulsory; developers should be summoned for ‘Philip Green’ shaming by select committees; and rip-off ‘fleasehold’ permission fees should be ended.

These were issues discussed at a standing-room only meeting of All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold and commonhold on Monday, that attracted more than 100 attendees. These included more than a dozen MPs and peers and housing minister Alok Sharma.

Mr Sharma, who is new to his post, was representing his boss Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, whose senior policy advisors were present.

Mr Sharma’s predecessor Gavin Barwell, now chief of staff at Number 10, and Mr Javid are seen as the two figures driving the government’s reforms of leasehold.

Both Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, and Sir Peter Bottomley, Conservative MP for Worthing West, urged the Communities Select Committee to summon developers and freehold owners to explain their practices.

Sir Peter said the solution to freehold game-players holding on to lucrative “consent fee” incomes even on freehold estates – which campaigners are dubbing “fleasehold” – is to give them “Philip Green treatment” by MPs.

You can read more HERE.

APPG Meeting - July 2017

The meeting was the first of the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold and commonhold reform of this Parliament. There now 86 MPs and Lords who have joined up.

Sir Peter joined fellow Leasehold Knowledge Partnership patrons Sir Ed Davey and Jim Fitzpatrick (pictured above) at the event.

 

Mortgage lenders and conveyancers told MPs that leasehold is in desperate need of legislative reform.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders, now renamed UK Finance, spoke of its “disappointment”, acknowledging that ordinary buyers are living in blighted homes.

Nationwide talked of a “legislative” response to the issue of leaseholders trapped in homes owing to onerous lease terms making them unsellable. It underlined why it was not prepared to lend on leaseholds with higher than 0.1 per cent ground rents.

The Conveyancing Association, deploying data drawn from 21,000 homes sales, listed the numerous scams freeholders use at the end of occupation when a leasehold property is sold.

 

You can read a full report of the meeting HERE.

APPG Meeting - April 2017

Around 50 leasehold stakeholders and seven parliamentarians attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold reform on Wednesday 19 April.

On March 22 the APPG was cancelled an hour and a half before it was due to start owing to the Westminster attack. This time the leasehold house owners arrived with five minutes to spare owing to the Euston fire.

You can read a full report of the evening HERE.

BBC Radio 4 - 'You & Yours'

Sir Peter Bottomley MP appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘You & Yours’ programme to discuss much-needed reforms to leasehold law in the UK.

 

Sir Peter’s interview followed a segment in which exploited leaseholders in the north of England explained their plight. One interviewee likened it to ‘the PPI scandal of the housing industry.’

 

He said:

 

‘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].’

 

Discussing what needs to be done next, Sir Peter said:

 

‘Raising awareness and getting ideas of what will work. Some of the lawyers who are working with us for free have got ideas of how the long-term arrangements can be made fool-proof, in effect. The short-term ones basically require transparency. It requires going to the annual general meetings of the major housebuilders, asking questions, and saying, “as a shareholder, you should be socially responsible. What have you done that’s wrong and what are you going to do to put it right?”’

 

To listen to the full interview, you can click on the link below and skip to 01:14 on the media player.

 

For more information on this topic, visit the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership website: www.leaseholdknowledge.com

'News on the Block' Leasehold Conference

On 1st March 2017 Sir Peter addressed a leasehold conference and exhibition titled ‘News On The Block’ in Central London.

The event was attended by legal, management and valuation professionals in the leasehold sector. It facilitated cross sector discussion on leasehold issues and featured speeches by Sir Peter among others.

 

Sir Peter opened his address by reiterating Parliament’s commitment to ending injustice in the leasehold sector:

 

‘Part of the job of Parliament, and part of the job of Government, catching up, is that when there is injustice, that it is spoken about in public, and that the law, in practise, changes.’

 

Later he quizzed the room about the practise of ground rents, which in some cases spiral uncontrollably, leaving leaseholders in financial crisis:

 

‘What is the purpose of having ground rents? Exploitation is a good suggestion; generating an income stream… and what is the purpose of that income stream? Who loses out? The leaseholder.’

 

He concluded by predicting the decline of managing agents, comparing them to the now-defunct professions of coal miners and typists. He appealed to them directly:

 

‘If you find that your livelihood changes, I hope that you will find a good way to use your talents and your time because, at the moment, too much time and effort and talent is being used to exploit the vulnerable, to identify the weaknesses of the weak, and to make life absolute hell for people to whom buying a home was an ambition which turned into a nightmare.’

Speaking at the LEASE Conference

Leasehold Knowledge Partnership covered Sir Peter's speech at the annual LEASE conference:

'Leasehold sector insiders were aghast at the address given by Sir Peter Bottomley on Wednesday at the Leasehold Advisory Service annual conference.

The event was packed with surveyors, valuers, lawyers and property managing agents paying £350 a head to attend what has until now been the most important trade show of the sector.

Earlier housing minister Gavin Barwell had said that the taxpayer-funded Leasehold Advisory Service must be “solely, and unapologetically, on leaseholders’ side”.

That was an indication to the LEASE politburo – Anthony Essien, the chief executive, and Roger Southam, the chairman – that this conference was not going to be the usual knees-up and mutual back-slapping event that the monetisers of the leasehold sector have made their own (courtesy of taxpayers).

“If I offend anybody, I’m very happy to talk with you afterwards,” Sir Peter began, “And if I fail to offend you, remind me and I’ll do it next time.”'

For more information on the LEASE conference, click HERE.

The Victoria Derbyshire Show, 2/2/17

Sir Peter Bottomley MP appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show to discuss leaseholders’ rights. He spoke alongside abused homeowners and legal experts on the scandal of spiralling ground rent charges by unscrupulous landowners across the UK.

 

Sir Peter is a long-time campaigner for reforms to British law to protect the rights of leaseholders. He works closely alongside charities Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and CARLEX to cast a spotlight on crooked landowners and managing agents. He also Co-Chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Commonhold Reform.

 

Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire about the exploitation of first-time buyers by property developers, Sir Peter said:

 

‘It is [stressful] and it shouldn’t be. You have to remember, everyone is a first-time buyer once, and they are usually dealing with people who are in this business in the long term. And I say to those developers, watch your reputation and watch your bank balance.’

 

On defining leasehold exploitation as a ‘scandal’, Sir Peter said:

 

‘Let’s take the habit of selling houses as leasehold when there’s no reason to: if they own the land, no house should be sold as leasehold. Number two: no house or flat should be sold with ground rents at a reasonably high level doubling every ten years. That’s an increase of seven percent a year.’

 

He closed the discussion by urging affected viewers to contact their MPs, adding:

 

‘Government is beginning to move, and we can move a long way.’

 

To find out more about leasehold exploitation, you can visit the following links:

http://www.leaseholdknowledge.com/

http://www.carlex.org.uk/

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© 2019 Sir Peter Bottomley

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