The law requires that a minimum of 50% of the owners of the properties in the block have to participate, although there is nothing stopping you from starting the process with a lower percentage than this as long as the 50% mark is eventually reached. It is important that this is pointed out to leaseholders in the early stages of the project as many leaseholders won’t want to get involved with collective enfranchisement until they are sure it will go ahead and this can lead to a “chicken and egg” situation which needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.
Remember too that the freehold purchase process is often far more straightforward when you are dealing with smaller blocks. If you are living in a block of only four flats, you will only need to convince one other leaseholder to join you to reach the 50%. If in contrast you are living in a much larger block with 100 flats, it’s a much more complex job to get an additional 49 leaseholders to join the collective enfranchisement, and keep them involved to the end of the process.
Exercising Your Right to Enfranchise – Issue an Invitation
It is always easier to start the collective enfranchisement process when a good proportion of the leaseholders have already decided that they would like to be involved. What makes up a significant number will depend on the nature of the block of flats.
At the earliest stages of planning, it is a good idea to issue a formal invitation to all of the leaseholders telling them about the proposed freehold purchase and asking them to get involved.
There is no legal requirement to issue this invitation, but it is a good way of starting enfranchisement and enables you to contact all of the leaseholders quickly. It also keeps things on a formal footing, which may alleviate some leaseholder’s worries about the legal and financial aspects of the process.
What Should the Invitation Include?
The initial invitation which you send out should include:
• Exactly what is being proposed
• Deadlines for getting involved
• The benefits of buying the freehold
• The deposit required
• Estimated costs for seeing the project through to completion. Clearly state that any costs are purely estimated and that the final charges could vary and will only be fully known when the leasehold purchase has completed.
Giving everyone the same information at the same time also helps to avoid possible conflict as leaseholders can see that everyone is being treated in the same way. There are some situations where this might not be such a good idea though, for example if the freeholder of the building has friends or relatives living in the block. If the freeholder might prove awkward, it may be better to avoid him getting hold of confidential information about the proposed leasehold purchase at this stage.
Your Right to Enfranchise -Getting Leaseholders to Sign Up
Along with the invitation, include a simple sign-up form. Keep this brief, and simply ask the leaseholder to confirm that they are interested in taking part in the leasehold purchase when the project gets underway. It should also be made clear that the leaseholder is not committing to anything by expressing their interest. It just lets the person leading the leasehold purchase that they are interested and willing to take part in collective enfranchisement.
Holding a Residents’ Meeting
At this point it is also a good idea to hold a meeting for leaseholders who still have questions or are unsure about whether to get involved. A meeting allows these leaseholders to ask any questions and get a full picture before committing. A meeting is a good technique to get more leaseholders interested in signing up.
Make sure that you ask an experienced leasehold enfranchisement solicitor to attend this residents’ meeting. The solicitor will be able to give the legal position and make sure that all of the information which is given is accurate. Having a solicitor at the meeting will also give the leaseholders peace of mind as they are being give information by someone who is experienced in this process and really knows what they are doing. Again this can encourage more residents to get involved in the freehold purchase.
The Difference Between Lease Owners and Residents
It’s also important to point out that issuing an invitation to all of the residents in the block might not help identify the leaseholders. Many flats are owned by landlords who rent them out, and it’s the person who owns the property and not the tenant who has to take part in a freehold purchase.
How To Enfranchise – Summary
In the early stages of planning a collective enfranchisement process, it’s essential to stay focused on the end benefits of freehold purchase, and have the costs of each of the separate stages laid out clearly so that your fellow leaseholders can see that you have nothing to hide in the whole process. Once the benefits of owning the freehold have been clearly spelled out and everyone understand what is required for the process, the chances of managing a successful leasehold enfranchisement are much higher.
Want To Know How to Enfranchise Your Block? Call Us Now
Exercising your Right to Enfranchise involves a really difficult of law – so it’s critical that you get the right expert advice. Wherever your block is situated in England Wales, our specialist team can help. For a FREE initial phone consultation from an specialist in Enfranchisement
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