The Leasehold Reform Amendment Bill received the Royal Assent on Friday 14th March 2014 which means that it will be come law shortly. The bill is a private members’ bill which makes a small but important amendment to the 1993 Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act.
When enacted it will remove the requirement that the tenant should sign any notice of claim to a new lease (or to buy the freehold) personally and will allow a duly authorised person (such as a solicitor) or someone holding a power of attorney to sign on their behalf.
This will make it easier for flat owners, particularly those under a disability, to access their rights under the 1993 legislation and will also make it far easier for flat owners to bring claims as where parties are some distance apart a solicitor can be authorised to sign on their behalf. This will make claims to larger freehold blocks easier.
The remaining technical challenges raised by the 1993 Act are still there, but this change should assist in speeding up the process of bringing a claim and also removes the current inconsistency, where someone under a disability (in a coma for instance) cannot bring a claim because they are physically unable to sign a notice.
This is something that the ALEP Working Party on Leasehold Reform has been working on for some time and Mark Chick, (a director of ALEP and chair of the Working Party on Legislative Reform) gave the following comment:
“ALEP has as an organisation, since it first started sought to engage government on anomalies and inconsistencies in the Leasehold Reform Legislation and has been in dialogue with the government over the last 5 years or so on these issues. Whilst there are a number of other points that could be addressed and we are keen to be involved in any consultation on future legislative reform in this area, this particular change has been achieved by an action led by one of our members, John Midgley from Seddons who has been particularly involved in the passage of this private members’ bill.
The Leasehold Reform Amendment Bill will make a simple amendment to the provisions of the 1993 Act, which ALEP hopes will have massive practical benefit for members of the public. This is consistent with our aims as an organisation being run by professionals working in the sector seeking to promote not only excellence within this particular field, but also to make it easier for flat owners to exercise their rights and to improve awareness of their rights more generally.”