§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received complaints of the way in which some local authorities are serving completion notices under the Housing Act 1980; and if he will make a statement.516W
§ Mr. Stanley
I have received complaints from both local authority and housing association tenants and their solicitors. In some cases it has been quite clear, and this has been acknowledged by the landlord, that the provisions of section 16 of the 1980 Act have not been complied with. While a completion notice under section 16(2) may not be served earlier than the times prescribed in section 16(3), a completion notice may not in any event be served until the two conditions laid down in Section 16(2) are met. First, a completion notice may not be served until after all matters relating to the grant of the freehold or the lease and to the amount to be left outstanding or advanced on the security of the dwelling-house have been agreed or determined. Second, after all matters have been agreed or determined, a completion notice may be served only if the tenant does not take all steps necessary to complete the transaction.
I am advised that this condition implies that before a completion notice is served the tenant should be given a reasonable time after all matters have been agreed and determined in which to take all steps necessary to complete the transaction. Where tenants or their solicitors doubt whether a completion notice fulfils these conditions, the validity of the notice should immediately be challenged in writing to the council. In those cases which have come to the Department's notice where these statutory conditions have not been complied with, assurances have been sought from the landlords concerned that their tenants will be informed that the completion notices in question are of no effect.
§ Mr. Murphy
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what vacant land in Welwyn-Hatfield has been registered by his Department.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
The land register for Welwyn-Hatfield contains entries in respect of 18 acres owned by the district council, seven by the Hertfordshire County Council, 31 by the Commission for the New Towns and 11 by British Rail. The register is available for inspection at the offices of the district council and of my Department.