HL Deb 22 March 2001 vol 623 cc277-8GC

(" . In section 3 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (continuation of tenancies to which section 1 applies), omit subsection (3).").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 250, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 251. Since the passing of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, under which other leasehold tenants were given security of tenure, tenants of houses with higher rateable values have been without security of tenure at the end of a lease. That has had an impact particularly in inner city areas, where higher rateable values are likely to be the most prevalent.

The Bill again fails to give security of tenure to such leaseholders. Instead, it gives security of tenure at the end of the lease to leaseholders who surrender their rights to security of tenure in exchange for a 50 year extension of lease, without premium but as a modern ground rent. This does not really address the problem of those houses with a higher rateable value.

Amendment No. 251 deals with the valuation basis on which such tenants face enfranchisement. It is because of' their higher rateable values that they come under the special valuation basis which was introduced into the Housing Act in 1974. The Hansard report of the debate in this House on this aspect made it clear that there was an assumption of security of tenure at that time.

Schedule 15 to the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 provides for this assumption in respect of houses that came into eligibility for enfranchisement under the Housing Act 1974. It does not, however, provide for it if the house is coming into eligibility under the 1993 Act. This proposed amendment is again aimed at tidying up unfinished business as far as enfranchisement is concerned.

Baroness Hamwee

Perhaps I may take the opportunity to clarify my previous remarks. Whichever party is running the Government, and whoever sits on the Front Bench, the civil servants will be there.

6.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Although we are sympathetic to the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, it is not possible to include it in this Bill, or any successor to it. The real problem raised by the noble Baroness, which is security of tenure for high value houses, is not faced simply by long leaseholders; it also affects those who rent such property. The Long Title of the Bill is restricted to commonhold and leasehold property, and if one were to cover this problem properly one would require a more general housing Bill. Even if there were no general election and we had time to deal with it, the matter would not fall within the scope of the Long Title.

To some extent, that also applies to Amendment No. 251 which would alter the valuation basis of higher value houses. Obviously, the vacant possession value of a house is greater than the value of the house with a tenant in it, particularly when the tenant has security of tenure. This means that leaseholders without security of tenure have to pay more for their freehold. Amendment No. 251 would mean that a house would be valued as though the leaseholder was entitled to security of tenure even though that was not the case. We do not believe that it is proper to accept that amendment. If the law does not give security of tenure, we cannot pretend that it does so for valuation purposes.

Baroness Hanham

Even if I have not flushed out too much sympathy, I have elicited the fact that there will be a general election quite soon. I am grateful for confirmation of that given the way that the Minister put it. I note what he says and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 251 not moved.]

Clause 146 agreed to.

Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 251A: After Clause 146, insert the following new clause—

Notices of claim to be overriding interest