Clause 26 - Commencement

Part of Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:30 am ar 9 Rhagfyr 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 11:30, 9 Rhagfyr 2021

It is a pleasure to see you back in the Chair, Ms Elliott.

As hon. Members will know, it is our intention to protect leaseholders from unfair practices through the Bill by ensuring that future regulated leases are restricted to a peppercorn rent, unless excepted. The Government believe that those who purchase retirement homes should benefit from the same reform as other future leaseholders. Although we would like the provisions of the Bill to come into effect as soon as possible, we have decided to give the retirement sector additional time to prepare for these changes. The hon. Member for Weaver Vale has tabled amendment 10 to remove this provision and do away with the transition period entirely. I am grateful for his consideration of this point and would like to explain the reasoning for including a transition period for retirement properties, and why I believe that that is the right thing to do.

The plan for peppercorn ground rent was announced in 2019, following the Government consultation entitled “Implementing reforms to the leasehold system”. At the time, we also announced that we would proceed with the proposal to exempt retirement properties from the peppercorn ground rents policy. That decision was made on the basis that developers of retirement properties incur additional costs as a result of the communal spaces that are characteristic of these kinds of development. However, having reviewed this in further detail, we concluded that the argument in favour of an exemption did not outweigh the benefits of ensuring that those purchasing retirement homes can take advantage of reform in the same way as any other leaseholder could.

The Government believe that it is a matter of fairness that those buying retirement properties should be able to realise the benefits of this legislation. It was therefore announced in January 2021 that the exemption for retirement property would no longer apply, and we have offered the transition in recognition of that change of policy. As such, the Bill will come into force no earlier than 1 April 2023 for retirement homes. This transition period will allow developers of retirement properties time to adapt to the forthcoming changes. We believe the transition period in the Bill has been fairly granted in balancing the needs of developers and fairness to leaseholders.