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Collective Enfranchisement Solicitors in London

If you are a flat owner subject to meeting certain qualifying criteria you are able to force your freeholder to sell the freehold to you. This process is known as collective enfranchisement. Read on to find out more about what this process involves and how our London-based enfranchisement solicitors can provide you with the information you need to help you start a claim to buy your freehold. 

The Benefits of Collective Enfranchisement

There are many benefits of collective enfranchisement and unlike the right to extend your lease, there is no two year ownership qualification period and therefore, even if you have recently bought your flat you will be able to act immediately.

The key benefits of collective enfranchisement are: 

  • You acquire control of the management of your building (and therefore the service charge).
  • You can grant yourselves extended leases of 999 years.
  • You can put right defects in your leases and change your leases to include additional parts of the building such as an un-let roof or basement space.
  • You can develop the building or sell off parts such as a roof space to a developer. 
  • You will no longer have to pay ground rent.  
  • To overcome missing or difficult Landlord issues.

The Qualifying Criteria 

A flat owner is able to participate if they hold their flat on a long lease (one originally granted for more than 21 years).

Subject to some exceptions, the qualifying criteria is in essence broken down into two parts, the building must qualify and the flat owners exercising the right must qualify:

  • The Building –  for the building to qualify at least two-thirds of the flats must be owned by flat owners and held on long leases (leases originally granted for a term of more than 21 years).  If the building contains a commercial element i.e. the flats are above a shop, you may still qualify if the commercial element consists of less than 25% of the building.
  • Flat Owners –  the participating flat owners must own at least 50% of the flats in the building between them. 

There is no requirement for flat owners to invite all the flat owners to participate in the collective enfranchisement claim if there are enough participating tenants in order to proceed without them.

If your leases have just over 80 years unexpired you need to act very urgently before any of them drop below 80 years. For leases with a term of under 80 years then marriage value becomes payable to the freeholder. Marriage value is an additional premium payable to your freeholder once the lease term expires below 80 years which makes the claim for the freehold considerably more expensive.

The Collective Enfranchisement Procedure 

For a detailed summary of the procedure involved in a collective enfranchisement claim from start to finish, please see our Collective Enfranchisement Procedure Infographic.

Please also see our Collective Enfranchisement Factsheet for more detailed information about the procedure.

Our blog What is Collective Enfranchisement? also provides a great introduction to collective enfranchisement as well as answering some of the most common questions, answered by one of our collective enfranchisement solicitors.

The Premium Payable for the Freehold

At the outset you will need to obtain a valuation from a specialist valuer who will advise you of the premium you can expect to pay for the freehold. Your Valuer will also advise you of the initial offer price to put forward to the freeholder. Your Valuer will ensure that following negotiations you will pay a fair price for the freehold and advise how the premium should be fairly divided between the participating flat owners. 

The Costs of Collective Enfranchisement

We will provide you with a fixed fee for dealing with all aspects of the collective enfranchisement claim at the outset (our fixed fee will include making any required application to the Tribunal but exclude our costs in preparing and attending a Tribunal hearing). Please note a claim proceeding to a hearing is extremely unusual.

In addition to our fees and disbursements, please note you will be responsible for paying the following:- 

  • Your valuer’s fees –for their initial valuation report (usually a fixed fee) and their costs for negotiating the premium on your behalf (usually charged with reference to their hourly rate);
  • The recoverable freeholders costs –once the claim is formally commenced by the service of the Initial Notice of Claim the participating flat owners become liable for the reasonable recoverable legal and valuation costs of the freeholder and any intermediate landlords. The recoverable costs include the freeholder costs in connection with:-

(a) investigation whether the flat owners and building  qualify for a collective enfranchisement claim;

(b) obtaining a valuation of the premium which should be paid;

(c) serving the Counter-Notice; and

(d) drafting and completing the Transfer Deed and any leaseback (conveyancing costs).

The freeholder is not entitled to recover its negotiation costs (the costs of its valuer negotiating with your valuer) or any costs in connection with preparing or attending a tribunal hearing. If the claim did proceed to the Tribunal both parties would pay their own costs.

  • Arrears of ground rent and service charge – the freeholder is entitled to recover pay all arrears outstanding on completion. 

Missing Freeholders  

We are also able to assist if  your freeholder is ‘missing’. Further, in the event that your leases are under 80 years and the freeholder is both missing and not performing its obligations under your leases then there is a possibility that we will be able to make an application for an Acquisition Order under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. By obtaining an Acquisition Order you would not be required to pay marriage value and therefore you would save a considerable sum of money.

How We Can Help 

If you are considering acquiring your freehold we are able to help you. We are experts in this field and also members of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP).  We understand the technicalities and all angles of the legislation and will provide you with the best advice to achieve your objectives. We will always work closely with your instructed valuer to ensure that you achieve the very best result saving you costs where possible.

For a no obligation initial discussion about the collective enfranchisement procedure or extending your Lease please feel free to call our team on 020 7802 4802 or contact us.

Alternatively, contact our enfranchisement solicitors  Joanna Botley or Jade Wilson.

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