§ Major MALONE
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable leaseholders of houses whose original leases were granted for a period or term of not less than thirty years to purchase the freehold estate, and such other outstanding interests affecting the property, on such equitable terms as, failing agreement, may be determined by the Minister of Health for the time being.The system of ground rents is an old and bad system handed down from the times when landlords could impose their will on others and the people have no redress. Landlords grant leases of houses and shops for a period of 99 years, and they never contribute one penny towards local taxation. The leaseholders have to pay rates and taxes and, in addition, they pay for making up the roads on the landlord's property. They have to pay also a ground rent and, what is worse, 1288 at the termination of the lease, they have to see that the property is in good repair, as otherwise they are liable for very heavy dilapidations. I will give an instance of what occurs. An acre of ground is leased for 99 years and as many as 24 houses are erected upon it. There is a ground rent of £6 per house per year, and if hon. Members work that out they will find it produces £144 for the acre, or, taking the whole 99 years, it produces £14,256, whereas the value of the land is not more than £4 per acre, or during the period of the lease £396. During that period, notwithstanding the fact that the landlord draws all that money from the one acre, he never contributes one penny to the rates. Business premises suffer from even a greater hardship than that. A man buys a leasehold shop and through his own business ability works up a good trade. If he wants to make an improvement in any way he cannot do so without the consent of the ground landlord, and that ground landlord is paid very highly for agreeing. At the end of the lease the trader has to hand over the shop in good repair, also the goodwill of his business. The leaseholder is now subject to the Rent Restriction Act, and although his lease is getting short he cannot dispose of it, as he is unable to obtain possession. Therefore be has, without any doubt at all, to face at the end of his lease very heavy dilapidations. This Bill is a modest one. It attempts to act fairly between landlord and leaseholder. The terms are that the leaseholder should have the right to purchase his leasehold on fair and equitable terms. Should he wish to purchase he must give three or six months' notice, while the price may be agreed upon between the two, failing which an appeal will be made to the Minister of Health for the time being, who will come to a decision. The great point is this, that leaseholders should have a right to become their own freeholders on fair and equitable terms. By that means you will be creating a contented lot of business people all over the country. They will become good citizens and will be a strength to the nation.
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable leaseholders of houses whose original leases were granted for a period or term of not less than thirty years to purchase the freehold estate, and such other outstanding interests affecting the property,
on such equitable terms as, failing agreement, may be determined by the Minister of Health for the time being,
§ put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Major Malone, Mr. G. W. H. Jones, Mr. Lorden, Mr. Cassels, and Mr. Robert Morrison.