Enfranchisement Rights Provided by the Leasehold Reform Act 1967:
Under the current law, Leaseholders who have owned a house for more than 2 years that is subject to a long lease are likely to benefit from statutory enfranchisement rights provided by the provisions of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 (“the 1967 Act”) to extend their lease term by an additional 50 years or purchase the freehold interest of their house. In most cases, the latter right to acquire the freehold is the most appropriate right for Leaseholders to exercise as it allows them to fully remove the current Freeholder (and any other intermediate Landlords) from frame and removes the obligations to pay an annual ground rent.
So how do leaseholders of houses qualify:
To exercise the statutory enfranchisement rights Leaseholders need to satisfy the qualifying criteria set out in the 1967 Act, which is broadly summarised as follows:
1. The lease of the property must be a long lease – a lease granted for 21 years or more
2. The property must meet the criteria of a ‘House’ as set out in the 1967 Act, and as clarified by the case law
3. The Leaseholder must have been the registered owner of the property for at least 2 years – Note, however, that it is possible for Leaseholders to launch their claim and assign the benefit of such claims to another person buying the property thereby enabling a buyer to extend the lease or purchase the freehold before they have owned the property for 2 years.
Provided the above criteria is met the Leaseholders would be best advised to seek valuation advice and serve a statutory Notice of Claim on the Freeholder (and other intermediate Landlords as necessary) to initiate the statutory process to exercise their rights under the 1967 Act.
The 1967 Act is not well drafted and is, at best, vague in relation to timeframes. However, once a Notice of Claim has been served the process is broadly as follows:
(1) Freeholders Notice in Reply:
The Freeholder will respond to the Leaseholder’s Notice of Claim with their Notice in Reply in which they will either admit or deny the Leaseholders right to Claim and the valuation method to be applied.
Assuming that the qualifying criteria is not in dispute, and the Freeholder admits the Leaseholders right to their claim, the Freeholders and Leaseholders representatives (valuer and solicitor) will negotiate the purchase price and the terms of the transfer.
In the vast majority of cases the negotiations result in an agreement being reached between the parties. However, if agreement cannot be reached regarding the purchase price and/or the terms of the transfer then the Leaseholder can refer to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a determination of the outstanding matters.
(3) Completion and Registration:
Once the terms and purchase price are agreed the Freeholder and Leaseholder will agree on a completion date, and following completion the transfer will be registered at HM Land Registry.
If you own a leasehold house and would like to discuss your statutory right to purchase the freehold of your property please contact a member of our Residential Leasehold team on 01543 442 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org<< Back to latest news