SUPPORTING LEASEHOLDERS

SIR PETER CAMPAIGNS ALONGSIDE THE LEASEHOLD KNOWLEDGE PARTNERSHIP FOR A POSITIVE IMPROVEMENT ON LEASEHOLD AND PARK HOME 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. 

 

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.

 

Park Home Energy Cost Support - 22nd August 2022

Park Home owners have, thus far, been overlooked in much of the Government's response to the rising price of energy.

I am extremely pleased to have received reassurance from the Government that, as part of a renewed package of support for households this winter, further funding will be available to provide equivalent support of £400 for energy bills for the 1% of households who will not be reached through the initial package.

This includes those who do not have a domestic electricity meter or a direct relationship with an energy supplier, such as park home residents.

I pledge to continue to do whatever I can, alongside Sir Christopher Chope, to ensure that Park Home owners receive the services, rebates, allowances and rights and protections granted under legislation and regulations, equal - where applicable - to those afforded to all property owners/residents. This includes campaigning to bring about the Government's promised change from RPI to CPI.

Going forward, I will continue to raise with Government any further unfairness and injustice faced by Park Home owners.

Government Reassurances on Leasehold and Park Home Reform - 09th June 2022

The Government must set out how they will provide greater security and fairness to the quarter of a million Park Home residents and the six million private Leaseholders.

They are both trapped by both fire safety and other unfairnesses where the Government has already received clear proposals from the Law Commission on where to act.

Two years, at most, remain of this Parliamentary Session. The Government made a clear commitment to addressing these urgent issues.

The Secretary of State's reassurances must be met with clear, unequivocal action from the Government.

He is right that we must end the absurd feudal system of leasehold which restricts the rights of residents in a way which is indefensible in the 21st century, let alone the 12th century.

Action is overdue.

Queen's Speech Debate - 10th May 2022

HRH Prince Charles delivered the Queen's Speech setting out the Government's agenda for the next Parliamentary session.

As Father of the House, I have the honour of speaking first following the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition and of the SNP.

I shared concern about the lack of progress in tackling severe issues facing park home residents and leaseholders across the country.

I encourage the Government to do what is necessary. There are simple solutions that will have dramatic effects.

I ask the Government to ensure that the legislative process is accelerated to ensure that we do not leave the 4.6 million leaseholders nationwide hanging when legislation is left too late to progress.

I have spent over 15 years trying to get justice for leaseholders. We have seen good progress over recent years but it is still not good enough.

An exert of what I said and a video of the speech is below:

Why should park home residents have to lose a significant part of their home’s value when they sell it? Those two things can be changed quite simply, the second probably through a handout Bill. There are plenty of MPs who could take that forward if their number came up in the ballot— my number has not come up in the ballot in 46 years —but the Government can make the RPI/CPI change quite easily.

 

From the notes to the Queen’s Speech—I thank the Government for giving us copious notes on the proposals—we learn that the numbers of social tenants, private tenants and leaseholders are each about 4 million to 4.6 million.

 

The fastest-growing type of home occupation is leasehold. We will not get decent information from the last census, because the only choices that people could put down were whether they owned their home or were a tenant. When I asked what a leaseholder should say, I was not given a clear answer. People think they own their home and might say, “I own it”, but they are wrong. If they put down “tenant”, they might think, “I’m not, actually. I’m a leaseholder.” Why could the people who compiled that census question not wake up to the fact that we are talking about 4.6 million households? Actually, it is probably 6 million, to be complete, but let us take it as 4.6 million. Why did the Office for National Statistics and what is now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities agree a question that does not allow accurate answers and totals to be given?

 

On leasehold, over the years, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has commissioned the Law Commission to write reports on what would make life easier, fairer and cheaper. We have not had legislation on that put forward. There are words about how something will happen in this Parliament, and we know that uncontroversial legislation often comes in what is expected to be the last year of a Parliament, but that legislation can often be lost if the election comes early. Let us assume that the election comes in May 2024. Will those 4.6 million leaseholders be left hanging if legislation, having been proposed, does not get through both Houses of Parliament?

 

I ask the Government to try to get that legislation ready for the next Session, and to get it through Parliament early as a priority. I suspect that it could start in the House of Lords and come through to the House of Commons quickly, rather than us having the controversial stuff start here.

 

I have spent about 15 years—I am following others who have been doing it for longer—trying to get justice for leaseholders. The crooks, exploiters and heartless people in the field—the sort of people on whom one could justifiably use parliamentary privilege—need to be held back, and the ordinary people need to be brought forward.

In debates on the Building Safety Act 2022, we heard how many people were stuck; the Government eventually came round to making changes, which are welcome. On fire safety defects, we know that we have to find, fix and fund the problems, and then get the money back from those who have not yet coughed up.

End Our Cladding Rally - 20th April 2022

I spoke at the recent END OUR CLADDING SCANDAL rally in Old Palace Yard.

Thanks to the Cladding Groups, the National Leasehold Campaign and the campaigning charity Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, the injustice faced by millions of innocent residential leaseholders across the country have been brought to the forefront of policy discussion in Westminster.

The cost of remediation and associated work must be borne by the people who are responsible for this dangerous chaos.

Faults were made by regulators, governments, component manufacturers, designers, developers, builders and sales forces.

The only certainty is that the leaseholders are innocent.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Commonhold Reform will continue to bring experts, victims and campaigners together to present the urgent case to Government and keep up pressure until resolute action is achieved.

We go on fighting for what is necessary.

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Leaseholders Together Rally - 16th September 2021

We welcomed those affected by the leasehold and cladding scandal across the country to Parliament Square to deliver a clear message to the Government: set leaseholders free, bring forward the solutions, do the right things and do it now.

Attached is the speech I was proud to give at the launch of the rally.

We welcome the Competition and Markets Authority’s announcement yesterday which unveiled yet another developer who accepted it did wrong and we welcome the work of the Law Commission who recognise and understand the problems residential leaseholders face, better than most.

Due to continued growing pressure over the last 10 years, so many leasehold scandals have been recognised and are rightly being exposed.

Sill there is much more to do…

Step by step progress, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly we have the chance to transform the lives of so many.

We thank the organisers: the National Leasehold Campaign and Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and, most importantly, all the cladding groups who came today and helped make this possible.

To those who can bring forward a solution to the leasehold crisis, do the right thing now and set leaseholders free.

Fire Safety and Cladding - September 2021

I was pleased to speak on BBC Newsnight about the appalling situation leaseholders across the country have been left in since the events of Grenfell.

This is probably the worst housing crisis since the Blitz. The difference being, at least during the Blitz, when there weren't planes overhead threatening to bomb your house, you could sleep soundly at night.

There are ways forward for the Government. It is important they take action to retrospectively address issues and free the millions of leaseholders trapped in unsafe flats, and not just prevent it from happening again.

Leaseholders are not responsible for remediation work.

They do not own a brick.

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.