PMQs: Reforming the retirement housing sector

In my constituency of Bexhill and Battle we have a large number of constituents who live in managed retirement properties. Unfortunately, the management companies behind these properties often hold freeholders and leaseholders over a barrel, charging them extortionate fees for services that they often don’t even need.

In PMQ’s this week I took to the chamber to ask the Prime Minister to commit to reforming leaseholding in the retirement sector and put a stop to rogue management agents ripping off vulnerable constituents.

You can read my exchange here:

Huw Merriman

Across the country, freeholders and leaseholders are being ripped off by management companies charging excessive service charges, often for services they do not require. Many of these people are vulnerable pensioners who are trapped in McCarthy & Stone properties with their asset depreciating thanks to the dominant involvement of FirstPort and Vincent Tchenguiz. May I ask the Prime Minister for two reforms: first, ground rents at peppercorn levels for retirement homes; and secondly, bringing in a charging schedule and an automatic re-tendering process so that all freeholders and long lease holders can bid with their own community interest companies to deliver services that they actually require? 

The Prime Minister

I recognise that this is an issue of real concern to many constituents. That is why we have committed to clamping down on those agents who abuse the system and protecting leaseholders and renters who are suffering at the hands of rogue agents, every day, from unexpected costs or from poor-quality repairs for excessive fees. We have asked Lord Best to chair a working group to look at regulating and professionalising property agents that will include reviewing the standards around the transparency of service charges and other fees and charges—how they are presented to consumers—and putting them into a statutory code for managing agents. But I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Communities Secretary will have heard the issue that my hon. Friend has raised and be happy to meet him to discuss this further.

And watch below: