A LONG campaign to end problems linked with ground rents in Huddersfield has met with triumph.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman today welcomed the news that key parts of legislation aimed at protecting leaseholds will come into force in February 2005.
Parts of the Common Leasehold Reform Act 2002 become enforceable from that month.
It will protect leaseholders from some of the practices that have been causing constituents concern.
Landlords will be required to send out written reminders with dates for ground rents before they are able to impose any penalties for late payment.
And they will no longer be able to insist that leaseholders use a specific insurance company to insure the house.
The MP took up the fight after being swamped with complaints from Huddersfield people.
Many had been forced to make extra payments to a company called Estates and Management, who took over thousands of freeholds from Kirklees Council.
Mr Sheerman said: "I am pleased that my campaign for fair treatment of leaseholders has been successful and that the Government has recognised the need to act to protect leaseholders from unscrupulous freeholders.
"I hope that 2005 will be the first year since Estates and Management took over the management of the freeholds from Kirklees Council that I will not receive mailbags full of letters complaining about unfair charges and general mismanagement."
Mr Sheerman has tabled a series of parliamentary questions asking Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to conduct an urgent investigation into the activities of Estates and Management.
He said: "Research carried out by my office has revealed a complex chain of ownership of Estates and Management involving five different companies. I am calling on the Government to look into the conduct of this chain of companies and their treatment of often elderly and vulnerable leaseholders."
Kirklees Labour Group Leader Clr Mehboob Khan today gave full support for tighter regulations on leasehold reform.
He said: "Each year dozens of local people are penalised by unfair business practices used by certain landlords who collect ground rent.
"I was shocked that a resident received a demand of £120 of costs on a ground rent bill of less than £5!"