HC Deb 04 November 1993 vol 231 cc324-5W
Mr. Miller

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what plans he has to ensure that adequate consultation is given by managing agents of sheltered accommodation to leaseholders before major repairs to property are undertaken and before the property is transferred from one group of managing agents to another;

(2) what further plans he has to ensure that managing agents of privately owned sheltered accommodation are accountable to their leaseholders;

(3) what plans he has to introduce further statutory protection for leaseholders in sheltered accommodation;

(4) what plans he has to ensure that leaseholders in sheltered accommodation receive full and regular access to audited accounts;

(5) what plans he has to make the sheltered housing code of the National House Building Council compulsory for all developers; and what plans he has to make it legally enforceable;

(6) what plans he has to introduce an ombudsman service to offer protection to leaseholders in sheltered accommodation where the managing agents are not a registered housing association;

(7) how many cases since April 1989 have been brought by leaseholders in sheltered accommodation against their managing agents, under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, or under the terms of the lease; and what information he has on the results of such cases.

Sir George Young

All leaseholders are protected by the contractual terms of their leases, which define the rights and duties of landlords and tenants and the basis of the service charges. In addition, the Landlord and Tenant Acts of 1985 and 1987 give tenants additional statutory rights. They impose duties on landlords to consult before undertaking work above defined thresholds and—in certain circumstances—over the appointment of managing agents, and to provide information about costs and make available supporting accounts and documents.

The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 gives leaseholders additional rights. It enables qualifying tenants to jointly purchase the freehold of their flats and also gives tenants the right to a management audit of their landlord by an independent accountant or surveyor.

It also enables the Secretary of State to approve codes of management practice governing property management. It is for outside bodies to submit any such codes to him for approval. The Association of Retirement Housing Managers yesterday published a draft code. He has no plans to make the sheltered housing code of the NHBC compulsory for all developers.

The Government have no plans to make further legislative changes to leaseholders rights in relation the management of their homes and is not persuaded of the case for an ombudsman scheme for privately owned sheltered housing nor of the practicality of this approach.

The Department has no information available to it on the number of cases brought before the courts by leaseholders in sheltered accommodation against their managing agents.