Letter: Duke has little to fear from leasehold Bill

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The Independent Online
IT IS ironic that the Duke of Westminster should resign from the Conservative Party over the proposed leasehold reforms ('Property law is theft, say lords of land', 28 February) since ministers, in drafting the Bill, have conspired with landowners to ensure that their estates, though affected, will remain significantly untouched by the new legislation.

The low-rent test, which applies to houses (since the 1967 Act) and is now being extended to flats will remain untouched. This test broadly qualifies a lessee to buy the freehold of their property if the ground rent is less than two- thirds rateable value at grant of lease. By setting ground rents at more than two-thirds, landlords can disenfranchise a property. I know. My ground rent is 'low' at pounds 230 a year, but I am disenfranchised by a mere pounds 4.

The rent test is only one of several unjustified hurdles incorporated into the Bill which will ensure that universal leasehold enfranchisement will not result.

Jude Goffe

London N1