On 7th November, MP Justin Madders, on behalf of the 125-member All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold, piloted a 10 minute Bill through Parliament seeking to protect current trapped house leaseholders. How likely is it the Bill will eventually become law given the odds being stacked heavily against Private Member Bills?
There are three ways of looking at it. Firstly, as with a gamble, to be in with a chance, you have to be in it to win it. Second, with a long running success rate of only around 1 in 20, if you look at the statistics, you’d wonder why people bother with Private Member Bills. But the third is, if you don’t like the odds, you can go out and change the odds, or change the landscape. We’re going to explore it from these angles.
First, a brief reminder of what Justin Madders has set out to do.
The Government is minded to scrap leasehold being applied on houses, but it is very unclear what they will do about current leasehold houses. If they try and row back on these, the ground rent companies and their investors will lose hundreds of millions of pounds of income. They and their lobbyists will not take this lying down. Justin Madders’ bill sets out to, amongst other objectives, guarantee that the rights of house leaseholders already trapped are retrospectively upheld in the new arrangements.
On 7th November 2017, the 10 Minute Bill passed unopposed, helped in huge part by the 125 members of the cross-party All Party Parliamentary Group on leasehold. The second debate is due on 2nd February 2017. These are the following possible outcomes.
- It will go through.
- It will be voted down.
- The Government will gauge the support, and consider merging all or part of the bill to other leasehold reform legislation.
Firstly the political landscape. It does seem the case that up until 2010, without anything else being considered, the average 10 minute Private Member’s bill does have a slightly better chance of success when the government has a weaker majority. The Theresa May Government is noticeably weak.
Next, as the Government can, one way or another, derail the bill’s progress at any point (which is why having a weaker government helps, a bit), then the movers of the 10 Minute Bill need to spend the intervening period between the first and second reading, identifying opposers and swing voters, and meeting regularly with them and urging them to support the Bill. The lobbyists for the builders and ground rent companies (which does include The Crown Estate) will be doing the same thing, but in the opposite direction and behind the scenes. At present, after the first shock of publicity earlier this year, the ground rent companies are playing a waiting game, and their investors are continuing to pay over the odds In one case 30 times the 1st year ground rent of £625 pa is being advertised to buy the leases.
What are the threats?
- A PM leadership battle breaks out and is won by a supporter of the current leasehold law.
- Campaigners and/or Parliamentarians are insufficiently active over the next 90 days.
- There is a battle in the Lords between the old leasehold barons and other Lords members at Committee stage and afterwards.
- To show some sort of strength and stability against Labour as a principle in some other sticky time, the Conservatives come out in force to vote it down.
The Campaigners’ Advantage
However what really helps here is that leaseholders have a large and active APPG of 125 members. If all 125 can be persuaded to actively press the cause for the next 3 months, then given the weakness of the Government, and that DCLG has already declared movement on leasehold, builders’ lobbyists might not be able to persuade the Government to whip a vote against a 2nd Reading. Furthermore, if a lot of people-powered parliamentary support can be maintained over the next 3 months, there is a reasonable chance that either the 10 Minute Bill will go to Committee stage, or that it will be included in some way in the current post Leasehold consultation presently being undertaken.
Campaigners – get writing those letters!
The purpose of this blog post is to provide information about a new campaign group, HALO, or Houseowners Against Leasehold Oppression. It is being set up and run by a campaign steering group whose members are themselves victims of leaseholder oppression, with campaign facilitation managed by an experienced campaigning business called Make Public. We seek to replicate the styles and persuasive voices of the successful national WASPI and Equitable Life EMAG campaigning groups.
Find out more and join us. Visit:
- our Facebook Groups Page at HALO Facebook
- our web page at Make Public HALO Campaign (some work still being done)
- our Change.org petition at Unfair escalating house lease? Unite to challenge housebuilders to convert to freehold
- Write to us at HALO@MakePublic.uk
and we’ll keep you fully informed. Our first action when several hundred signups have come in will be to advertise to bring the HALO: Steering Group together, then open up the membership site and provide you with the campaign strategy all parties will work to.
This page and the Facebook page are being updated.
Keep fighting back!
HALO – Houseowners Against Leasehold Oppression and Make Public
COPYRIGHT © 2017 – HALO – HOUSEOWNERS AGAINST LEASEHOLD OPPRESSION
Chris Clark F.IDM, MBA
HALO: Houseowners Against Leasehold Oppression
The Finsbury Business Centre
40 Bowling Green Lane
Tel: +44-(0)-7952 291 327