HC Deb 22 July 1996 vol 282 cc45-6

Lords amendment: No. 96, in page 50, line 37, at end insert— ("( ) The reference in subsection (1) to premises let as a dwelling does not include premises let on—

  1. (a) a tenancy to which Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 applies (business tenancies),
  2. (b) a tenancy of an agricultural holding within the meaning of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 in relation to which that Act applies, or
  3. (c) a farm business tenancy within the meaning of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.")

Mr. Clappison

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss also Lords amendments Nos. 97, 98, 24'7 and 322.

Mr. Clappison

The purpose behind this group of amendments is to change the application of clause 78, which prevents actions for forfeiture of a lease for non-payment of service charges until the amount has been agreed or determined. That removes one of the weapons that has been used by some landlords whose standards have fallen short. Lords amendment No. 98 has been introduced to provide that, if a section 146 notice requiring the tenant to pay the service charge is served by the landlord, it must clearly set out the effect of these new restrictions, and that warning must be given in conspicuous characters.

Mr. Raynsford

As the Minister said, this is an important measure relating to problems facing leaseholders who are threatened, or have been threatened in the past, by the prospect of forfeiting their lease because of a dispute about, for example, service charges.

We very much welcome the steps that have been taken under pressure. As a result of the campaign that the Labour party has maintained throughout the past year on behalf of leaseholders, the Government have moved to some extent to deal with these problems. Later, we shall debate the Government's failure to act adequately in other areas where there is a need for more effective action, but this is a proper and appropriate response to close the forfeiture loophole.

We very much welcome the requirement that leaseholders be informed, because there is a risk that, despite Parliament's best intentions, leaseholders may find themselves threatened with forfeiture without being told of their right to challenge the landlord's entitlement to seek forfeiture for a service charge dispute.

We welcome the new clause, which we believe will help leaseholders. It is part of a much wider package of measures of leasehold reform that is necessary, only part of which is addressed by the Bill; nevertheless, the new clause is a step in the right direction.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 97 and 98 agreed to.

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