Clause 12 - Costs of enfranchisement and extension under the LRA 1967

Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:30 pm ar 23 Ionawr 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Minister of State (Minister for Housing) 3:30, 23 Ionawr 2024

I beg to move amendment 29, in clause 12, page 15, line 6, at end insert—

“(8) See also sections 20CA and 20J of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which prevent costs in connection with a claim under this Part being recovered by way of a variable service charge (within the meaning of section 18 of that Act).”

This amendment is consequential on NC7.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 4, in clause 12, page 16, leave out from line 19 to line 12 on page 17.

This amendment would leave out the proposed new section 19C of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967, and so ensure that leaseholders are not liable to pay their landlord’s non-litigation costs in cases where a low value enfranchisement or extension claim is successful.

Clause stand part.

Government amendment 31.

Amendment 5, in clause 13, page 21, leave out from line 26 to line 12 on page 22.

This amendment would leave out the proposed new section 89C of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, and so ensure that leaseholders are not liable to pay their landlord’s non-litigation costs in cases where a low value enfranchisement or extension claim is successful.

Amendment 128, in clause 13, page 22, leave out lines 13 to 39.

This amendment would leave out the proposed new section 89D of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, and so ensure that leaseholders are not liable to pay their landlord’s non-litigation costs in cases where a leaseback has been granted under Chapter 1.

Clause 13 stand part.

Government amendments 45, 49 to 51 and 121 to 123.

Government new clause 7—Restriction on recovery of non-litigation costs of enfranchisement, extension and right to manage.

This new clause, to be inserted after clause 35, would prevent variable service charges being paid by a tenant for non-litigation costs in connection with enfranchisement, extension and right to manage claims made by other tenants.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Minister of State (Minister for Housing)

New clause 7 is a key amendment to close a loophole that landlords could potentially use to recoup process costs from tenants via variable service charges. These are costs to which they are not entitled under the new cost regime. The new clause is supported by a number of consequential amendments.

The new clause will support the new cost regime introduced in the Bill, which, as the Committee will be aware, seeks to prevent landlords from recovering process costs from leaseholders making enfranchisement or right-to-manage claims in the appropriate tribunal. In its current form, the Bill takes active steps to prevent a potential loophole by ensuring that variable service charges cannot be used by landlords as a mechanism to charge leaseholders for their litigation or process costs in connection with any of the aforementioned claims made by leaseholders.

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Ceidwadwyr, Walsall North

Can the Minister clarify whether the prescribed format would include the application of charges for insurance?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Minister of State (Minister for Housing)

I hope to clarify that issue for my hon. Friend in the next few minutes. If I am unable to do so, I will write to him.

New clause 7 seeks to go a step further in blocking the loophole by ensuring that landlords are unable to recoup costs through variable service charges issued to other tenants who are not actively participating in the claim. To be certain that the new clause is effective, we are clarifying that these costs are not defined as relevant costs that a landlord is allowed to include in service charges. We are also giving the appropriate tribunal a new power to order landlords to repay leaseholders in cases in which they have wrongly been charged for such costs.

Although we recognise that it is unlikely that landlords will seek to circumvent the intent of the Bill, it is important that our efforts to remove barriers to leaseholders bringing applications to enfranchise or to exercise the right to manage are not undermined, and that we ensure that the cost regime is watertight and fairer for leaseholders. I reiterate that new clause 7 will have the effect of preventing landlords from using service charges to obtain from leaseholders costs to which they are not entitled. This will be supported by a power for the tribunal to order landlords to repay leaseholders to whom they have incorrectly passed on such costs. I commend the new clause to the Committee.

I turn to the Government’s position on the amendments tabled to clauses 12 and 13. Amendments 4 and 5 would remove proposed new section 19C of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 and proposed new section 89C of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, which together would establish an exception to the new general rule that each side will bear its own costs in tribunal proceedings for enfranchisement and lease extension claims for flats and houses respectively. The exception exists to entitle landlords to receive a portion of their process costs from leaseholders in low-value claims—those for which the premium to be paid to the landlord by the leaseholder is less than the process costs.

I should note that I share the worthwhile desire of the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich to make it cheaper for leaseholders to enfranchise or extend their leases. For too long, the balance of power has been weighted too much in favour of landlords. We have introduced changes to the cost regime because we believe that they will make it fairer, and because we wish to remove the risk and uncertainty facing leaseholders bringing such claims. While restoring balance, however, it is important that the new regime is fair for both sides when there are claims of this nature. Rightly, leaseholders have a statutory ability to enfranchise or extend when they like. In low-value claims, it is not fair for landlords to be required to incur a net financial loss at any time that leaseholders wish to exercise their rights. In claims that are not low-value, the landlord will receive sufficient compensation and will be able to use this to cover the costs incurred; in low-value claims, that is not possible, as the premium is less than the process costs.

Part of the reason why leaseholders have been liable to pay their landlord’s reasonable process costs is to ensure that landlords are protected from unfairly burdensome costs. They could face these costs at any time. In many cases, landlords have no choice but to pay out, given their duty to honour the statutory rights of leaseholders to enfranchise or extend their lease. The low-value claim cost provisions create protection. They mean that leaseholders will be liable for some of their freeholders’ costs, but their exposure to cost will not be excessive. Although it is right that the cost regime changes, we must continue to ensure that there are protections in place both for leaseholders and for landlords. I ask the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich kindly not to press his amendments.

We have been clear that we want to make it cheaper and easier for leaseholders to extend their lease or buy their freehold; that is the whole point of this Bill. Clause 12 will make it cheaper for owners of leasehold houses to exercise their enfranchisement rights. It introduces a new cost regime with a general rule that, in future, both landlords and leaseholders will bear their own process costs during an enfranchisement claim. Process costs could include costs for services such as valuation, conveyancing and other legal costs. This could save a leaseholder thousands of pounds. Leaseholders will no longer be deterred from bringing a claim because of the process costs demanded by their landlord, and a leaseholder will no longer face unknown costs from their landlord, making it much simpler to buy their freehold or extend their lease.

There are some exceptions to the new rules to protect landlords in certain circumstances. Proposed new section 19A(1) lists the exceptions that protect landlords, including where a leaseholder’s claim ceases for a reason that does not count as a permitted reason, which we have sought to define clearly, and where a landlord’s non-litigation costs exceed the premium payable in low-value cases. Proposed new section 19A(4) confirms the continuing role of the tribunal to make orders on litigation costs. Proposed new section 19E makes it clear that, since there will be no general requirement for leaseholders to pay a landlord’s process costs, they will also no longer need to make a security payment.

The legislation also closes a potential loophole by preventing landlords from passing their costs to the enfranchising leaseholder via a service charge or a similar contract. The amounts to which landlords will be entitled under the exceptions will be prescribed in regulations; proposed new sections 19B(3) and 19C(3) provide powers for the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers to make such regulations. Together, these measures will level the playing field, making it cheaper for leaseholder owners of houses to extend their lease or buy their freehold, and removing a core barrier deterring leaseholders from enfranchising. I commend clause 12 to the Committee.

I thank the hon. Member for Brent North for tabling amendment 128. The Bill introduces a general new rule that each side will bear its own costs for enfranchisement and lease-extension claims. The hon. Gentleman’s amendment would remove proposed new section 89D of the 1993 Act, which would establish an exception to that rule with regard to process costs where a freeholder in a collective enfranchisement claim takes a 990-year leaseback of some property in a building. In such situations, freeholders will receive a portion of their process costs. I share the desire of my hon. Friends and of the hon. Member for Brent North to lower cost, risk and uncertainty for leaseholders, but it is still important that the new regime be fair for both sides. The Government will not be accepting the amendment today.

Process costs will be greater for the landlord in such cases in which there are more complicated transactions overall: a new lease will need to be granted and registered, and new terms will need to be negotiated. Those will add to the freeholder’s process costs. In addition, the price or premium payable to the freeholder will still be lower than if the leaseback were not part of a transaction, because the freeholder will be retaining a proprietary interest with a substantive value, which has the effect of reducing the premium.

As I noted in response to the proposition of removing the exception for low-value claims in amendments 4 and 5, it would not be fair for landlords to be required to incur a net financial loss if leaseholders wish to exercise their enfranchisement rights. Although it is right that we reform the cost regime, we must ensure that there are protections in place for both sides. I therefore ask the hon. Member for Brent North not to press his amendment. Having covered the detail of the clauses, I commend them to the Committee.

Finally, in reply to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North on insurance, the answer is generally no. There is little reason why insurance should be part of the process. There may be exceptions; if there are, we will write to my hon. Friend to indicate them, but the general answer is no.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:45, 23 Ionawr 2024

I thank the Minister for his explanation of the Government amendments and for his initial response to my amendments and the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent North.

We welcome the new costs regime provided for by these provisions. The Minister is absolutely right that, as things stand, there is no balance of power: the playing field is tilted very much in favour of landlords rather than leaseholders. That needs to be addressed. Under the current law, leaseholders are required to pay for certain non-litigation costs incurred by their landlord when responding to an enfranchisement or lease extension claim. That obviously does not reflect normal practice in residential conveyancing, where each party bears their own costs.

The argument for imposing non-litigation costs has always been that in enfranchisement or lease extension claims, a landlord is being forced to sell his or her asset, and that that justifies a departure from the costs arrangements that operate in open market sales of residential property, where any valuations and final price will reflect the fact that each party must pay their own costs. However, when it comes to lease extensions or freehold purchases, a landlord is obviously not simply being compensated for the value of the asset they are being compelled to sell. They are instead securing, through the payable premium, a share of the profit to be made from selling to the leaseholders in question. In addition, as things stand, through capitalised ground rents they are extracting funds from leaseholders over long periods—often decades—prior to securing that profit share for no explicit services in return, a point that the hon. Member for Redditch made.

The valuations of lease extensions and freehold acquisitions under the existing statutory regime rely on prices agreed via an open market transaction, but those valuations do not account for the fact that leaseholders are expected to pay their landlord’s non-litigation costs. A landlord in an enfranchisement or extension transaction therefore receives both a price for the asset being sold, which reflects the market rate without non-litigation costs factored in, and their reasonably incurred non-litigation costs on top.

As the Law Commission’s 2020 final report on enfranchisement puts it, the effect of the law and current market practice is that

“the landlord is over-compensated for the non-litigation costs that he or she has to incur in order to transfer the interest to the leaseholder.”

In addition to the fact that landlords are over-compensated for non-litigation costs, many of those who are better resourced use the fact that such costs are borne by leaseholders as leverage in negotiations on the price of the lease extension or freehold acquisition, confident that the expense of challenging those costs in tribunal will dissuade many leaseholders from doing so.

The Opposition’s view is that freeholders should not receive compensation in respect of non-litigation costs. The fact that a landlord sells his or her asset and receives a share of the profit as a result is not sufficient justification for departing from an arrangement in which reasonable non-litigation costs are factored into the ultimate price. That is not least because the decision to enfranchise or extend a lease is often not discretionary; it is often a requirement brought about by the fact that a lease is due to expire, because the payable premium is rising as the lease shortens or as a result of the decision to move or re-mortgage.

We therefore fully support the intention behind clauses 12 and 13 to provide for a new regime based on the principle that leaseholders are not required to pay the freeholder’s non-litigation costs in those circumstances. We note the Law Society’s concern that landlords are being asked to bear their own non-litigation costs despite the fact that the proposed standard valuation method provided for by schedule 2, which the Committee has just considered, will lead to payable premiums below full open market value because it caps the capitalisation rate. However—this point touches on one of our previous debates—political decisions set the rules of the game for market competition. In our view, it is simply not the case that there is some kind of inherent market value for premiums that is entirely independent and autonomous of legislation in this area. Every sale of a flat and every lease extension process relating to a flat since 1993 has been undertaken against the backdrop of the 1993 Act, which reduced ground rents to a peppercorn.

The market value for premiums is shaped by the laws this House passes, and it is right in principle that, to achieve the Bill’s objectives of making it cheaper and easier for leaseholders in houses and flats to extend their lease or buy their freehold, leaseholders do not pay non-litigation costs in addition to the payment of a premium, as determined by the new method proposed in schedules 2 and 3. It is because we believe that leaseholders should not be liable for these costs as a result of an enfranchisement or lease extension claim on principle, irrespective of the method by which the premium is calculated, that we take issue with the fact that the clause as drafted does not protect all leaseholders from liability for costs incurred.

As the Minister has made clear, the clause entails only a selective extension of rights in this area, because it does not ensure—as the press release that accompanied the publication of the Bill claims it does—that all leaseholders will no longer have to pay their freeholder’s costs when making a claim. Instead, by means of proposed new section 19C, it makes exceptions to the general rule whereby the price payable for the freehold or extended lease is below an amount to be prescribed in regulations.

We understand the rationale for the proposed new section, namely that leaseholders should pay a freeholder’s non-litigation costs in such circumstances, so that low-value claims do not cost the freeholder money; the Minister has been very clear that the Government believe that that must happen to ensure that the process is fair for both sides. We also appreciate that there are risks in prohibiting a landlord from passing on non-litigation costs to leaseholders in instances in which they would be required to spend more in carrying out the transaction than they received for the asset. The Law Commission highlighted a number of those risks in its final report on enfranchisement, including the incentive created for landlords not to co-operate with a claim, or for them to transfer the low-value freehold into the name of a shell company, then liquidate the company and ensure that the lease becomes bona vacantia.

We are concerned, however, that exempting claims below a certain value will create a different set of practical problems. I hope I can get the Minister to engage with those problems, with a view to convincing him to reconsider. They include costly and time-consuming disputes in cases in which the price payable is close to the level of the non-litigation costs in question for low-value claims, and the potential for landlords to game the new system by arguing for a price payable below the threshold, in order to secure both it and associated non-litigation costs because of the burden of disputing the amount.

We appreciate that the Government have incorporated into the clause the Law Commission’s recommended remedy, namely that in low value claims for which the non-litigation costs are higher than the premium payable, the leaseholder would be required to pay the lower of the two values, one of which is to be prescribed by the Secretary of State. However, we believe that it does not entirely remove the potential for significant disputes to arise between leaseholders and freeholders, with leaseholders in a weak position to challenge them because of the cost and time required. We therefore worry that the prescribed sum, at whatever level it is ultimately set, will become the minimum sum payable to enfranchise. We are concerned that the difficulties of challenging a claim to the prescribed sum will deter some leaseholders from initiating the process of extending their lease or from acquiring their freehold altogether.

Taking a step back, we fail to see the logic in the Government’s position. On the one hand, they seem to be ignoring the Law Commission’s recommendations in relation to costs; they have chosen to provide for a general rule that leaseholders are not required to make a contribution to their landlord’s non-litigation costs, but have not chosen to adopt a valuation methodology that seeks to reflect open market value, which was the commission’s stated prerequisite for such a rule. On the other hand, they are following strictly the commission’s recommendations in respect of low-value claims.

Put simply, we believe that, by means of this Bill, we should take the political decision—it is an explicit political decision—to exempt all leaseholders from paying the costs incurred by landlords in processing enfranchisement or lease extension claims. Amendments 4 and 5 would omit proposed new section 19C of the 1967 Act and proposed new section 89C of the 1993 Act, thereby removing any exception to the general rule that leaseholders are not required to pay the freeholder’s non-litigation costs in such circumstances. Having argued my case on the basis of the practicalities, I live in hope that the Minister might reconsider.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Llafur, Brent North

Can my hon. Friend clarify whether the proposals in his amendments 4 and 5 would cover my own amendment 128, which deals with the exactly parallel situation in which each side bears its own costs, but in relation to leasebacks?

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I will have to come back to my hon. Friend on that point, but my understanding is that, by deleting the relevant proposed new sections, amendments 4 and 5 would ensure that in all circumstances non-litigation costs will not be chargeable to leaseholders. That was certainly the Opposition’s intent in proposing the amendments.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean The Minister of State, Home Department

I ask the Minister to clarify a couple of points. It is extremely unusual for me ever to find anything in his comments to disagree with or depart from. If I heard him correctly, however, I think he stated that he thought it was unlikely that landlords would ever seek to circumvent the intent of the Bill. Possibly I took that out of context, but I suggest strongly that, on the contrary, it is extremely likely that landlords will intend or try to circumvent the intent of the Bill, because that is what we have seen from freeholders over decades. That is why we are in the position that we are in.

We are obviously starting from the position that we want this to be fair—each side needs to see justice—but, as I think most of us have remarked, there is a massive imbalance of power. The Minister spoke powerfully about how it is not Conservative to promote a market with such imbalances of power and, in such situations, it is incumbent on us as Conservatives, who believe in free markets, to free those leaseholders—those tenants, who have bought those properties in good faith—from under the yoke of the freeholders, who hold all the power and, in particular, the threat of blocking those court actions and tribunal claims.

The difficulties that those leaseholders face are such that they often give up years of their lives to them. These people are just doing normal jobs, already working hard to pay their mortgage on the flat that they thought they had bought and owned, but instead they might have to spend hours, days or years of their life trying to familiarise themselves with incredibly dry, complex bits of legislation that we are grappling with in this Committee with great difficulty, even though we all have a reasonable degree of familiarity with it. Imagine being a flat owner who finds themselves wondering what on earth they are going to do to challenge their freeholder in a court of law. They face the stress and difficulty of mounting a claim, wondering who is going to help them, and fearing that they will be lumbered with all the costs at the end.

I have two specific questions for the Minister. First, is he confident that we have addressed to the best of our ability, with all the information and work that we have done, the statement that—I believe this; I am very cynical—landlords will seek to circumvent what we are doing? They are probably already doing so. Does the Minister feel confident that he, his excellent officials and the whole Department have scrutinised the matter to the best of our ability to prevent that?

Secondly, in the Minister’s view, are we addressing the egregious situations that we heard about in some of the evidence sessions in Committee? Groups of leaseholders have taken freeholders to court because of all sorts of spurious and seemingly tiny and insignificant things, and they have found that the freeholders have had the costs awarded to them and they are then seeking to recoup those costs through the service charges of the leaseholders. To me, that seems an absolute violation of justice. We believe in a fair market, but this cannot be one when leaseholders are operating in a dark room—they cannot see the prices, or the other buyers and sellers. It is not a free market in any shape or form. We are inching towards some degree of freedom, but I would welcome some reassurance from the Minister.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Llafur, Brent North 4:00, 23 Ionawr 2024

Here was me thinking I was going to be helpful to the Minister with my amendment 128, that I was going with the grain of the Bill—its whole point. He was so eloquent, and said that it is absolutely right that each party should bear its own costs, and I was thinking, “Great, we’ve got one here. They’re going to support us”, and then he said that he could not accept the amendment. I urge the Minister to consider it again.

I am trying to take out that whole proposed new section 89D, because it is a new class of cost—this whole idea of a leaseback. These are new ways in which landlords will be able to increase the costs of enfranchisement, because they will engage a series of lawyers to review separately every single one of the contracts of the non-enfranchising leaseholders and, indeed, all the individual elements of the commercial premises that they are being forced to take the leaseback off. Those costs will be absolutely enormous, because they will do it on an individual basis. The hon. Member for Redditch spoke eloquently about her cynicism, and I am afraid that it is not cynicism: it is reality. It is an understanding of what is happening in the commercial world out there.

The Minister really needs to look at this again. I understand that he has a commitment not to accept the amendments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich, or, indeed, by me, but I urge him to think again and actually see what that might cost in practice—he can get his officials to look at that—for a large development where, we must remember, only 50% of the residential element may have enfranchised, meaning that 50% may not have; they will be leasebacks. The whole of the commercial element, which could be up to 50% of the development, will also be leasebacks, which will be individuated. The cost of an individual review by a landlord of every single one of those lease contracts will make it impossible for the 50% residential interest to enfranchise. It goes against the grain of the Bill. I urge the Minister to look at that again and come back at a later stage with his own amendments.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Minister of State (Minister for Housing)

I will briefly address those points. I understand the broad point made by the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich. If we need to look at specific areas in more detail, I would be happy to receive those from him outside the Committee. We think that the structure will work and is effective. On the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch made a moment ago, officials have spent a significant amount of time trying to make the provisions as watertight as possible. Can I guarantee on absolutely everything that there is no possibility that we have missed something? No. That is why I am happy to take further information from any colleagues on the Committee, but we think that this is a valid prospectus on which to proceed.

My hon. Friend made a point about my potential naivety, although that is not how she described it. I assure her that having dealt with freeholders from a building safety perspective now for 16 months, even though I have dealt with this sector for only a couple of months, I am under no illusions about the cynicism of part of that sector. Even when we go through legal processes—I know that colleagues in this room have had a great deal of this, particularly those who represent urban areas—and it is absolutely clear and staring us in the face that there are responsibilities and requirements to do things with regard to building safety, it is absolutely extraordinary that some freeholders continue to seek to get around their obligations and must be dragged kicking and screaming to them.

I listened to a rather erroneous and misleading discussion on the “Today” programme this morning where the BBC presenter said, “It is all terrible on building safety. An insufficient amount of progress has been made in terms of building safety a number of years on from the very sad events of Grenfell.” It is also the case that a substantial amount of work is going into dragging some of the freeholders to do the things that they are supposed to do in the first place and have the basic humanity to recognise that they need to provide buildings that are safe for people to live in.

I hope that I have assured the Committee that, if nothing else, I am absolutely cognisant of some of the challenges that were indicated by my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch. We hope that the elements that I articulated in my initial comments address some of the egregious situations. One of the reasons why we are tightening covenants is to ensure that there is not a workaround or way around some of the things that we have talked about.

I say to all three hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Brent North, that there is always a balance to be struck, but we are trying to make this as watertight as it can be. Although we cannot accept the amendment, if there is something that we genuinely think we have forgotten or missed, I will happily take further information, separately, and look at it again. We think this provision is okay, but I am always happy to take further information, if it would be helpful.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I thank the Minister for that response. Before turning to amendments 4 and 5, I have a brief note about the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent North. It is a very strong idea, and there is a genuine deficiency in the law. If he is minded to press it to a vote, I would certainly support him. He may want to return to it at another date.

On amendments 4 and 5, perhaps I have misunderstood the Minister. We are not trying to make the argument that the Government have forgotten to include something in the Bill or that there is something missing; the point is that the exemption that they are providing for low-value claims will cause problems. I have taken on board what the Minister said about the Government’s position being that the exemption is essential to ensure that the new process is fair, but we are very concerned that the prescribed sum that the Secretary of State will bring forward will become the de facto minimum amount payable for those low-value claims. Because of the problems challenging that, I think that leaseholders will be deterred from taking this process forward. That is the best-case scenario.

The worst-case scenario—I fear that this is the more likely scenario, for the reasons outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent North and the hon. Member for Redditch in relation to the behaviour of some freeholders —is that it will become a recipe for litigation and gaming of the low-value exemption in ways that will be detrimental to leaseholders. With that in mind, I am minded to press amendment 4 to a vote and, if that is successful, amendment 5 as well.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Llafur, Brent North

There is a word in the clause that the Minister should pay very specific attention to. Line 29 of proposed new section 89D states that

“‘non-litigation costs’ means costs that are or could be incurred by a freeholder”—

I stress “could”. If the Minister is minded to look at this again, he should ask his officials to do some calculations about what the costs could be. I recognise the figures and have no wish to detain the Committee by pressing this to a vote. I am happy to support my hon. Friend in pressing amendment 4 to a vote, but if the Minister can give me an assurance that he will ask his officials to do that homework, I will not press the amendment.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Minister of State (Minister for Housing)

We are certainly happy to write to the hon. Member to articulate the position in more detail and to seek to reassure him on some of the points that he has made.

Amendment 29 agreed to.

Amendment made: 30, in clause 12, page 15, line 14, at end insert—

“(za) the claim ceasing to have effect under regulations under section 4B (landlord certified as community housing provider);”—

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 57.

Amendment proposed: 4, Clause 12, page 16, leave out from line 19 to line 12 on page 17.—(Matthew Pennycook.)

This amendment would leave out the proposed new section 19C of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967, and so ensure that leaseholders are not liable to pay their landlord’s non-litigation costs in cases where a low value enfranchisement or extension claim is successful.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Rhif adran 3 Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill — Clause 12 - Costs of enfranchisement and extension under the LRA 1967

Ie: 6 MPs

Na: 8 MPs

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 8.

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 12, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.