Long Leases Bill gets committee support at Stage 1

11/03/2011

A Bill to convert long leases into ownership has received the backing of the Justice Committee in its Stage 1 report on the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill published today.

The purpose of the Bill is to convert ultra-long leases into ownership. This broadly applies to leases that were let for more than 175 years and still have 100 years left to run. All qualifying leases would convert automatically into ownership, unless the tenant opted out. In some cases, compensatory and additional payments would be payable to the landlord by the tenant. It is not known how accurate the Scottish Government’s estimated figure of 9,000 long leases eligible for conversion is.

The committee looked at the issue of long leases involving “common good”. This is the fund of money and assets including land, buildings and investment, owned and administered by each Scottish local authority. Despite calls for common good leases to be excluded from this Bill, the majority of the committee is not persuaded by the arguments.

The committee expresses disappointment that there is still not an accurate and complete record of the common good property held by local authorities across Scotland. It is not clear how many of the long leases eligible for conversion are local authority leases.

Committee Convener John Lamont MSP said:

“The Long Leases Bill is the final stage in a process of land reform and is intended to clarify and simplify the position regarding leases that are akin to ownership. While the majority of the committee does not agree that long leases involving common good should be exempt from the Bill we do all believe there should be an accurate record of common good property across all local authorities.”

“The committee also agreed with the Scottish Government that commercial leases should be exempted from the Bill. However, in light of conflicting evidence received by the committee, the Minister’s undertaking to re-examine how the exemption is formulated is welcomed. Although this legislation will go no further during this parliamentary session, the committee’s work has usefully highlighted a number of areas for this Government and the incoming Administration to consider.”

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