Frequently Asked Questions

What is meant by the term Leasehold Enfranchisement?

This is the process of freeing yourself from the slavery of a lease. The term applies only to residential property and there are various statutory provisions distinguishing the different rules for houses, individual flats and blocks of flats.

Is this connected with the term Right to Buy?

No. This term is used to refer either to those rights conveyed by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 or those rights applying to public sector accommodation. The 1987 Act is concerned with that situation where the landlord intends to sell his freehold reversion. In that event, he must give the tenants of the block a right of first refusal in matching the bid received from a third party.

What do you actually do?

We specialise in advising lessees on the likely price payable to acquire their freehold or extended lease. We also represent clients in negotiation with the view to reaching a satisfactory settlement and appear as expert witnesses before valuation tribunals and courts of law. In summary, we save people money.

How does your function differ from that of a lawyer?

We are lawyers and surveyors. These claims involve both legal and valuation issues. We can advise you on valuation issues and your legal rights and deal with the necessary conveyance. We can as  valuer in advising you as to the correct price and then as a negotiator in seeking to agree the best price with the opposing party. In those rare occasions where the matter is referred to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, the surveyor must then act as an expert witness in presenting evidence at the hearing.

First, as a valuer we prepare a valuation to estimate how much it is likely to cost. In the case of claims under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, it is necessary to propose a price in the notice and, following case law, that price must be reasonable. It is therefore essential to have such advice prior to serving a notice under the 1993 Act.

With claims under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967, there is no requirement to propose a price. However, it is still advisable, as any statutory notice makes the claimant liable for the landlord’s legal and valuation costs, whether the transaction is completed or not. Therefore obtaining a professional opinion at the outset may avoid the possibility of the price subsequently proving unacceptable, resulting in the need to withdraw from the claim and incurring abortive costs.

If the client decides to proceed with a statutory claim, the procedure to establish a legal right is best dealt with by a solicitor with whom we will consult to ensure that a suitable price is proposed in the notice, where this is necessary.

Once the landlord has admitted the claim, our function is that of negotiator and our aim is to reach a settlement at the best possible price. There may be issues relating to the form of the new lease which fall within our responsibility, but generally issues relating to the form of the new lease, or the terms of the freehold transfer, are best dealt with by a solicitor.

By far the majority of claims are resolved by negotiated settlement, but where this is not possible, the matter may be referred to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. In this event, our role is that of an expert witness. We will prepare the necessary proof of evidence, and consult with counsel, if counsel is to be appointed. We will then present a submission to the tribunal by way of an examination in chief and deal with cross-examination by the opposing counsel.

How much experience have you had?

South East Leasehold was established in 2007 but out experience goes back 30 years. We carry out approximately 300-400 cases per year including lease extensions and collective enfranchisement for both leaseholders and freeholders.

On valuation issues Simon Brook has represented clients at the First Tier Property Tribunal on numerous occasions both as an expert witness and as advocate.

Our legal teams have successfully agreed numerous leases and dealt with difficult freehold transactions and the tribunal and the county court.

How long does it take to enfranchise a lease?

The statutory process normally takes between 4 and 6 months. If the matter become protracted and referred to tribunal then it can take up to a year to finalise. The important thing to remember is that when the notice is served that is the valuation date so in effect it is irrelevant to the premium how long the matter takes.

The basic process is as follows;
1. A statutory initial notice is served by the leaseholder requiring a response within 2 months.

2. Within 2 months the notice must be admitted (but it could be sooner) and the freeholder’s counter notice served.

3. As soon as the counter notice is served negotiation can begin which may endure for several months. After 2 months from the counter notice either party landlord file an application with the First Tier Tribunal Property (FTTP) however negotiations can continue.

4. After about six to eight months, if one of the parties has lodged an application with the valuation tribunal, a date for the hearing will be notified.

5. Once the hearing takes place then matters must be completed with 4 months or an application to the County Court must be made.

If either party lodges an appeal to the Lands Tribunal, it would delay matters by about a year.

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