HL Deb 15 March 1993 vol 543 cc1307-8

.—(1) A qualifying tenant who chooses not to participate in the proposed acquisition shall be entitled at a later date to purchase a share in the new owning company.

(2) Where such a tenant chooses to exercise that right he shall serve a notice at the registered office of the company and, in addition to the purchase price, he shall be liable to pay any costs incurred either by himself or by other occupiers in the relevant premises.

(3) The purchase price shall be agreed between the parties or, in the event of disagreement, shall be referred for determination to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.").

The noble Earl said: I have already spoken to the amendment. However, I wish to comment on what the Minister said in his response. It seems more appropriate to do so now than on earlier amendments. Part of the problem arises from the Government's insistence on a snapshot approach. It can only be said that it is detrimental to enfranchisement on the strict terms that the Government have set down. I shall return to the matter.

[Amendment No. 74 not moved.]

Clause 15 [Access by relevant landlords for valuation purposes]:

Lord Coleraine moved Amendment No. 75: Page 22, line 9 leave out ("3") and insert ("10").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 75, I speak also to Amendment No. 76. Clause 15 gives the reversioner, after the initial notice has been served, the right of entry on any part of specified premises. I note that he is allowed to go into the commercial part of the property—it would be his valuer, no doubt—just as the flat owners would have wished to do. That is to enable him to obtain a valuation of the property. The provision states: That right of access shall be exercisable at any reasonable time and on giving not less than 3 days' notice to the occupier". With all its experience of such cases and the time limits which are or are not practicable, the Law Society recommends that it is not practicable to make it a possibility that a freeholder will give only three days' written notice. It suggests 10 days. That is the substance of Amendment No. 75. If the provision for three days were to remain in the Bill, and the lessee was not present when the reversioner's valuer came, the reversioner would no doubt use his key, unlock the premises and walk in.

Amendment No. 76 provides that the notice shall he in writing. I believe that such notice is always provided to be in writing. Perhaps I may have some hope that the Minister will agree on this occasion that the notice should be in writing. I beg to move.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

We support the simple and straightforward amendment. It refers to formal proceedings. It is reasonable that the tenant should be given 10 days' notice and that that notice should be in writing. I do not understand the necessity for haste. Why is it necessary to give only three days' notice? Some civilised degree of preparation might be required for the tenant if he is to have a valuation of his property, not least perhaps in order to tidy the place up.

They are formal, legal proceedings. It is therefore appropriate that notice should be in writing and not merely a verbal communication. I urge the Minister to accept the simple and straightforward amendment.

Lord Boardman

In contrast to some of my comments on Law Society amendments, I support my noble friend's amendment. Both amendments are sensible and should be accepted.

Lord Strathclyde

I was not going to accept either of these amendments; but dealing with the second one first—the requirement for landlords to give their tenants written notice—I have no objection to that. However, the amendment is unnecessary because Clause 88, which relates to notice and makes certain provisions, already requires that all notices under Part I of the Bill should be in writing. Therefore, I do not think this is necessary.

On the first amendment, requiring 10 days' notice instead of three, my own feeling is that it slows down all the stages which come after the reversioner gives the county notice. As I have explained many times, delay should be in no party's interests, but I can see that ultimately it is a matter of judgment. If the Committee wishes there to be 10 days instead of three, I am not going to object. And, as nobody is going to speak against it, I propose to accept the amendment.

Lord Coleraine

I am grateful to my noble friend for that sincere and important concession.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 76 not moved.]

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Boardman moved Amendment No. 76A: After Clause 15, insert the following new clause: