How We Can Help
Our leaseholder solicitors can help with a range of legal issues when it comes to long leases. We can advise on and assist with:
- The terms of a lease
- Lease extensions
- Service charge disputes
- Statutory entitlement to a purchase of a freehold
- Mortgage repossession
We have over 30 years of experience acting for leaseholders and can provide you with invaluable legal and commercial guidance on all property matters.
There are two main routes to choose from as follows:
The Informal Route
We can help you with informal lease extensions with your landlord by guiding you through the entire process from start to finish, and ensuring all legal documentation is in order.
The informal route can be quicker and more cost effective than the statutory route. It does however depend on whether the terms being offered by your landlord are acceptable. Your landlord doesn’t have to grant an informal lease extension; therefore, some landlords may demand more than they would otherwise be entitled to under the statutory route. This could be in the form of higher premiums, reduced terms or increased annual ground rent.
Whatever terms are offered, our leaseholder solicitors can provide effective commercial advice and assist you in making an informed decision.
The Statutory Route
If you are a leaseholder who has owned a property for more than two years and your lease was originally granted for a term of more than 21 years, you may be eligible for a statutory lease extension.
You will be entitled to a term of 90 years on top of your current term. Your ground rent will be reduced to a peppercorn and the premium you pay must be a reasonable figure. This will normally be negotiated between yours and your landlord’s chosen surveyor.
There are strict time limits to abide by when taking the statutory route, and our team will be on hand to guide you through the entire process from beginning to end.
How We Can Help
First of all, we will check your eligibility for a statutory lease extension. We will then draft and serve the initial notice of claim on your landlord, review, and report to you on your landlord’s counter notice. We will then approve the renewal lease.
Once the terms have been agreed, we will deal with completion and include all post-completion formalities. If the terms can’t be agreed within the statutory time limit, then an application can be made to the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber to determine the terms. This will not only mean that you obtain a lease extension at the end of the process but will also ensure that you obtain a renewal lease on fair terms if your landlord refuses to be reasonable.
Whilst the statutory route can take a little longer than the informal route, it provides certainty on the terms you will be obtaining. It also eliminates the risk of your landlord simply walking away from the negotiating table and leaving you without recourse (as is possible with an informal lease extension), and provides the protection needed to ensure that the terms are fair.
Collective Enfranchisement Claims
Whether you want to be more hands on in the running of your building, acquire the freehold to increase the attractiveness and saleability of your leasehold property, or are frustrated with the way your landlord has been managing the building, Healys can assist you in ensuring a successful acquisition.
We will check your eligibility, draft, and serve the initial notice of the claim, review, and report to you on your landlord’s counter notice, approve the transfer documentation and then deal with completion and all post completion formalities for you. If terms cannot be agreed within the statutory time limits, then an application to the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber can be made to determine the terms. We will assist and guide you through the application process.
By buying the freehold, you acquire outright ownership of the building and will have a say in the control and management of your block. You can appoint your own managing agent and grant yourselves long new leases on favourable terms that can enhance the value of your individual properties.
Right to Manage Claims
Under Part 2, Chapter 1 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2020 you have a statutory right to take over the management of your building, providing certain criteria are satisfied. Generally, you will have the right to take over the management of your building if most of the tenants in the block take part and the statutory procedure is followed correctly. Your landlord can only object in very limited circumstances, meaning a claim for the right to manage is a relatively safe process.
In addition to being safe, the right to manage is normally a process that is undertaken where the leaseholders cannot afford or simply do not have the appetite to acquire the freehold outright. This process therefore provides an inexpensive alternative with no requirement to pay a premium.
The downside to the right to manage route is that the landlord will remain in the picture. However, once the right to manage claim is completed, you will have the collective right to decide how the building is run, to include how charges are levied against the leaseholders in the building. It therefore provides a valuable alternative to the freehold acquisition process where outright acquisition is not possible.
Right of First Refusal Claims
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, certain disposals trigger the right of first refusal. If you are reading this section, then it is very likely that your landlord has notified you and your fellow leaseholders that it intends to make such a disposal and is offering it to you all first.
You will normally have a minimum of 2 months from receipt of the notice from your landlord within which to make enquiries, form a majority (more than 50% of the leaseholders in the block) and accept the offer. A failure to obtain a majority and / or serve a counter notice in time will give your landlord the freedom to sell to a third party. You must therefore act quickly and decisively and Healys can take you step by step through the entire process from start to finish.