Lease Enfranchisement – Buying Your Share of the Freehold
The process of enfranchising is often used to refer to when a leaseholder is seeking to purchase their freehold. It can be done in respect of either a flat or a house. It is sometimes used to refer to applying to extend your lease – please see our designated section on Lease Extensions for more information about our services in that area. Here you will find information on rights available for long leaseholders under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
What is a Collective Enfranchisement?
When you own a long lease, you’ll usually have the right to acquire the freehold collectively with other qualifying leaseholders. Where you own a lease in a premises of two or more flats (where at least two thirds of the total properties are held by qualifying tenants) you would be able to partake in this process.
To collectively enfranchise, the process usually involves:
- Providing an initial notice to those who qualify to participate in the process;
- Coordinating a nominated purchaser (usually a freehold-enfranchisement/ownership company)
- Seeking a valuation of the premises;
- Serving an initial notice on the current freeholder; and
- Following a statutory process with set deadlines for allowing the smooth transfer of the freehold asset (subject to a premium).
Just like a lease extension, if the parties are of similar mindsets, a voluntary deal can be arranged to transfer the freehold. Many owners of leasehold properties prefer outright ownership of the freehold which does not need to cost a huge amount more than an individual lease extension (subject to how many properties are within a building).
When the premises is a house, the process can still be achieved but the qualifying criteria is slightly different (and there are a few exclusions) as this is done under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
How to know if you qualify
If you have a long lease (of more than 21 years) of a self-contained part of a building in a residential block with a large number of similar owners – you generally should qualify. Unlike lease extensions, you do not have to have owned the property for any specific length of time.
How we can help
Enfranchisement is a process which involves quite an active amount of planning especially if you are part of a large block of flats. Our solicitors have been recognised for excellence in this field by clients and other professionals to become members of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners. We are happy to have a conversation to address any initial concerns or questions you have in this area but the easiest way to start is to have a conversation with your neighbour. From there, if you can gather the required support to pass the 50% required participation by qualifying tenants, purchasing your freehold would be an achievable possibility.
As this work involves a large amount of paperwork, negotiating and attention to statutory procedure, our solicitors in our Dispute Resolution and Property & Probate departments work closely together to work towards our clients’ objectives in this area. Juanita Francis, our Head of Property, and Peter Thibault are available to discuss these matter in more detail or answer any queries you may have in this regard.