ISSUE No.109 Summer 2014
LEASEHOLD REFORM – new this month
FPRA Hon Consultant Mark Chick, explains what’s new in the Leasehold Reform Amendment Act.
On May 14, 2014 the Leasehold Reform Amendment Act comes into force in England.
The Act is the result of a Private Members’ Bill that makes a very simple but effective amendment to one of the key provisions of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 – namely the requirement that the flat owner must personally sign a notice claiming a new lease or the right to buy the freehold.
In practice this requirement has caused hardship, particularly where a flat owner has for example, been under a disability and been unable to sign.
We have seen cases where a flat has been owned by someone, who is for instance, in a coma and physically unable to sign a notice. As the law stands we were in the slightly ridiculous position that such a person could not activate a claim to a new lease or take part in a freehold purchase under the 1993 Act, simply because they were unable to sign the notice of claim.
As the law stands, someone holding a power of attorney for the flat owner, or even their duly authorised agent (such as a solicitor acting on their behalf) could not sign the notice.
This Private Member’s Bill comes about in part because of constant lobbying by ALEP (the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners) – who have sought to engage with Government on possible reforms to leasehold legislation over the last five years or so. I have been proud to chair the working party on this. In the last year ALEP were able to persuade a number of MPs to sponsor a small but very effective Private Members’ Bill, which has the effect of amending Section 99 of the 1993 Act, effectively removing the requirements for personal signature.
The person signing will still need to show that they are duly authorised, but the main practical benefit is likely to be that more people will be able to initiate or participate in claims,
particularly in circumstances where signature may be difficult (for instance where they are abroad, or not readily available and able to sign). This change will also make it easier to bring collective claims to purchase the freehold as the solicitor will be able to sign parts of the notice on behalf of the flat owners.
A number of the technical challenges to getting the notice right will still remain (meaning that expert assistance will very much still be required) – however, this amendment will speed up one element of the process and make claims easier in practice.
Mark Chick is a solicitor specialising in Landlord and Tenant matters.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Keeping Up the Pressure – flood reinsurance
4G – Superfast Broadband Ask the FPRA Legal Jottings
– compiled by Philippa Turner 2
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