HL Deb 22 March 2001 vol 623 cc248-9GC

In section 1AA of the 1967 Act, omit—

  1. (a) in subsection (1), the words "falls within subsection (2) below and",
  2. (b) subsection (2),
  3. (c) subsection (4).").

The noble Lord said: The Leasehold Reform Act 1967 originally applied to houses that were held on a long tenancy at a low rent. The long tenancy was defined as a term of years exceeding 21, and low rent was defined as two-thirds of rateable value, the Act having been passed at a time when rateable value still existed. However, under Section IAA of the 1967 Act, which was inserted by the Housing Act 1996, the lessee of a house that was not at a low rent also acquired the right to enfranchise the house if the term exceeded 35 years. I believe that the distinction between the 21-year period for houses at a low rent and the 35-year period for houses at a somewhat higher rent was anomalous and should be eliminated.

I can see that it is inappropriate for rack-rent tenancies to be subject to enfranchisement, but we believe that very few, if any, residential tenancies are granted for periods of between 21 and 35 years except at a premium, and that they are therefore not rack-rent tenancies. The reduction of the term of years for tenancies which are not at a low rent to the same period as tenancies which are at a low rent would end an anomaly and simplify this extremely elaborate legislation. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham

My Amendment No. 233C, which is in this group, seeks only to achieve what the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, has suggested should happen; that is, a reduction of the period from 35 years to 21 years.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Amendments Nos. 232 and 233C, and also Amendment No. 233AA standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, seek effectively to end the low rent test as it applies to houses. We are sympathetic to this proposal. It is only considerations of space which have prevented us from including it in the Bill so far. We will consider carefully what has been said, although we cannot make any commitment at this stage.

Lord Goodhart

I am most grateful for that reply. It is fair to say that any additional space taken up in this Bill would be at least matched by what is taken out of existing Acts. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Goodhart moved Amendment No. 233: After Clause 133, insert the following new clause— ("Excluded tenancies