House of Commons Hansard Debates for 8 Jan 2002 (pt 22)
Peter Haler and Tony Essien from LEASE—the Leasehold Advisory Service—have also campaigned for the Bill and all of them would want me to pay tribute today to the years of their lives that Stella Evans, Charlotte Martin, Neil Mulcock, Joan South, Shula Rich, Owen Humphries, Nigel Wilkins, Joyce Glasser, Terence Michael, John Patterson and Muriel Guest-Smith have devoted to trying to achieve justice for leaseholders through legislative change.
Shula Rich has drawn to my attention an important issue about forfeiture that has been mentioned often in this debate. Both LEASE and Ministers say that the incidence of people losing their homes through forfeiture is very small.
However, the Brighton, Hove and district leaseholders association tells me that it has helped thousands of leaseholders over the past five years, and that the majority of the cases that it has dealt with have, at some stage, involved the threat of forfeiture—even cases involving some of the most reputable solicitors in Sussex.
I shall name one: DMH. In a letter sent to a leaseholder on behalf of one of its clients, it states:
You have received a demand for payment of Ground Rent and Service Charge from the freeholder’s agent in the sum of £1,105.32 . . . we are now instructed to instigate proceedings against you.
This action will involve the preparation and service of a notice under Section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 . . . We point out that you are responsible for the costs . . . You should be aware that such action could result in the forfeiture of your lease and the loss of your home.
That was all for the sake of £1,105.32.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion mentioned the Leaseholders’ group in his constituency. Without the representations that that group made, both through him and directly to the Government, several of the safeguards that have been incorporated into the Bill this evening would not have been added. Dry and technical though the Bill may have been, it has nevertheless demonstrated the House working at its best.
Hansard: The Rt. Hon. Sally Keeble MP
Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill 13/3/2002. Final reading.