The Church of England has said it will oppose the government’s pledge to abolish marriage value as part of its leasehold reforms. If enacted, the scrapping of marriage value - a charge added to leases less than 80 years old - would transfer an asset pool from landlords to tenants, estimated at hundreds of millions of pounds.

Speaking in the House of Lords this week, the Rt Rev Prof David Walker, the bishop of Manchester, said charities which rely on freehold income could suffer as a result if this formed part of the Leasehold Bill. He said: ‘The bill, as drafted, will take money presently used for charity purposes and give it to the wealthy - robbing the poor to pay the rich: a reverse Robin Hood.’ 

Rt Rev Prof David Walker, the bishop of Manchester

Rt Rev Prof David Walker, the bishop of Manchester

Source: Alamy

The bishop argued charities should be exempt from the abolition of marriage value.

The Department for Housing, Levelling up and Communities responded by saying the bill 'will improve home ownership for millions … by making it cheaper and easier to extend their lease or buy their freehold'. It added that removing marriage value will level the playing field.

A spokesman for the Church Commissioners told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The proposal to abolish “marriage value” amounts to a transfer of wealth from charities like us to wealthy individuals who own property in prime parts of London.’

Property lawyers have suggested the abolition of marriage value might prima facie amount to a breach of Protocol 1 Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to every natural or legal person to the peaceful right of their possessions. Central London landlords may seek a declaration that these provisions were incompatible with the Human Rights Act, it has been suggested.

One issue could be that tenants would choose not to extend their leases and wait to see if the changes are brought into force, thereby saving themselves considerable sums. The same tenants will suffer a loss if they delay extending their leases and the government decides to retain marriage value. 


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