Amendment 41

Part of Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 6:30 pm ar 24 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Scott of Bybrook Baroness Scott of Bybrook Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 6:30, 24 Ebrill 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor, and my noble friend Lord Borwick for Amendments 41 to 45 in this group. I turn first to the series of amendments tabled by my noble friend, and I thank him for his constructive engagement with me and for the time he spent in trying to address this vital matter.

Amendments 41 and 43 to 45 would seek to replace the current provisions in the Bill, which will allow the Secretary of State to set the deferment rate used in enfranchisement valuation calculations, as well as removing a requirement to review these rates every 10 years. Instead, these amendments would require the deferment rate to be prescribed by a formula, which would be based on the Bank of England’s base rate plus 5%. The specific deferment rate would then be calculated based on the date of the leaseholder’s enfranchisement claim.

As I have discussed with my noble friend Lord Borwick, this is one potential solution for setting the deferment rate, but it is not the only one. I am aware of the importance of the deferment rate to both leaseholders and freeholders, and it is important that we take the time to take this decision carefully. There are serious consequences with any attempt to prescribe the methodology for setting the deferment rate in the Bill; this would tie the hands of this Government, and successive ones, in terms of adapting the approach if the need were to arise. It is also important that the Government retain their role in providing balance between market stability and the need to review the rates. It is the Government’s view that the proposals in the Bill enable this balance, and it would therefore be inappropriate, at this stage, to prescribe in the Bill the methodology for setting the deferment rate.

These deferment rates are a really important part of the Bill. At the moment, it is difficult for leaseholders to understand how much they may have to pay to the landlord when they enfranchise. Different rates are used across the country and across the industry on a case-by-case basis. The deferment rate is used to calculate the reversion value, and this provides the landlord with the compensation for the value of the freehold property with vacant possession in the future; that is, at the end of the lease. Prescribing these rates and using them to develop an online calculator, which will help leaseholders understand what they may have to pay, is also important. These rates will be prescribed at a market value to ensure that the amount that landlords are compensated reflects their legitimate property interests. These are important decisions.

The noble Lord, Lord Moylan, asked about the timing; this could take years and years, but we do expect the majority of these reforms to come into effect in 2025-26, as set out in the Bill’s impact assessment. Obviously, this may change, but that is what we expect. We will continue to carefully review all the information and views shared on the setting of rates, and I welcome any further thoughts that the Committee has on this matter.