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I turn to Amendment No. 136. I think that I can reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, that the power contained in the subsection she seeks to amend is relatively limited. It is a power that will allow the local authority to manage the property effectively. It does not dispossess the owner of all his rights. Indeed, the powers of local authorities are very clearly limited by subsections (4) and (5) preventing, for example, the local authority allowing further occupation without the owner's consent, or disposing of the property. I appreciate that the noble Baroness is looking for reassurance on this.
Amendment No. 137 would further amend the provision on the interim management orders so that the local authority would be able to take action in relation to management of the property to ensure the immediate health, safety and welfare only of the occupants. Such a narrow approach would prevent action being taken once an interim management order had been made for the protection of people in the surrounding area. While we welcome the noble Baroness's desire to see the interests of the occupants protected, we think that it is important that bad management can be addressed and the interests of people in the wider community protected. But we take the point. It is absolutely clear.
This is the message that we want to give. It is important that local authorities do not see the making of an interim management order as giving them a green light to act as if they owned the property for all time. I believe that there are already adequate safeguards to protect against this. First, the authority is under a duty to sort out the long-term management of the house as soon as practicable. It will hardly fulfil this obligation if it is embarking on an extensive programme of unnecessary works. Secondly, and most importantly, the landlord can appeal to the residential property tribunal against any unreasonable expenditure incurred. If the local authority were to attempt to take unreasonable actions under the interim management order, it would find itself landed with the bill for doing so. I hope that the general thrust of that reassures the noble Baroness.
Regarding Clause 102(3)(a), which is about the rights of existing occupiers, and the question of whether the rights of a potential occupier, someone who has signed an agreement to occupy next week, are protected, they could be protected if the local authority agrees to serve a notice under Clause 117. The potential occupier would have no right to insist but we will look further into this before the next stage of the Bill.
The noble Lord said: This is a highly technical group of amendments that amend Part 4 of the Bill to make sure that it fits more conveniently with the law relating to the registration of land. The amendments are minor and technical and they are brought forward to clarify the legal status of tenancies granted by local housing authorities under management orders that they make under this part of the Bill.
The main purpose of these amendments is to provide that, except in certain specified circumstances, a tenancy granted by a local housing authority under its powers in a management order is regarded as a legal lease, binding on any future owner of the property and, in appropriate circumstances, registerable at the local Land Registry. This will not give powers to local housing authorities to create legal leases, but any lease they do create must be treated as if it were such a lease.
This group of amendments also covers two other related issues. It is intended to allow local housing authorities to seek the entry of a restriction in the Land Registry in respect of a property subject to a management order. This would address a potential mischief, namely an attempt by a landlord to register a lease that, by virtue of the management order, he was not entitled to grant because under the land registration rules, if registered, such a lease would be both legal and binding.
The other issue is purely technical and is to confirm that any charge on a property is a legal charge, capable of registration at the Land Registry, and also a local land charge in relation to any monies that might be owed. The remaining amendments in this group are largely tidying up amendments consequent on the new provisions introduced by the principal amendments. I hope that that rather short explanation of a large number of amendments gives a clue to noble Lords opposite and that they find the amendments that we have tabled rather easier to swallow, even though they have been put down rather late. I beg to move.
"( ) The authority may apply to the Chief Land Registrar for the entry of an appropriate restriction in the register of title in respect of such an order."
After Clause 102, insert the following new clause
"GENERAL EFFECT OF INTERIM MANAGEMENT ORDERS: LEASES AND LICENCES GRANTED BY AUTHORITY
(1) This section applies in relation to any interest or right created by the authority under section 102(3)(c).
(2) For the purposes of any enactment or rule of law
(a) any interest created by the authority under section 102(3)(c)(i) is to be treated as if it were a legal lease, and
(b) any right created by the authority under section 102(3)(c)(ii) is to be treated as if it were a licence to occupy granted by the legal owner of the premises,
despite the fact that the authority have no legal estate in the premises (see section 102(5)(a)).
(3) Any enactment or rule of law relating to landlords and tenants or leases accordingly applies in relation to any interest created by the authority under section 102(3)(c)(i) as if the authority were the legal owner of the premises.
(4) References to leases and licences
(a) in this Part, and
(b) in any other enactment,
accordingly include (where the context permits) interests and rights created by the authority under section 102(3)(c).
(5) The preceding provisions of this section have effect subject to
(a) section 116(5) to (7), and
(b) any provision to the contrary contained in an order made by the appropriate national authority.
(6) In section 102(5)(b) the reference to leasing does not include the creation of interests under section 102(3)(c)(i).
(7) In this section
"enactment" has the meaning given by section 102(10);
"legal lease" means a term of years absolute (within section 1(1)(b) of the Law of Property Act 1925 (c. 20))."