Letter: Reform letting contracts, don’t abolish leases

Bizar Male

Letter updates

Antonio Albert would abolish leases (Letters, August 20) but with what would he replace them? How would the terms of property use and financial contribution be set between owner and occupier? He would do better to campaign for legislation to reach more deeply into the terms of letting contracts. During a career practising law in this area, I realised that devising whole new systems (eg, the mainly unused Commonhold legislation) was ineffective and that there are two main possible methods of rebalancing letting terms.

The first is for a law to require adoption in future letting schemes of fair terms of contract, set out in codes drawn up by professional bodies such as the Law Society and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This comes with the difficult task of deciding which contracts to exclude from standardisation.

The second method, operating on existing contracts, is to allow someone like the Property Ombudsman to decide that the parties had “agreed” unfair terms. This would impose a big caseload and the need to make policies about “fairness”, but these could be based on the professional codes.

Steven Fogel
London NW11, UK

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