Freehold enfranchisement – the legal process where 50% or more of the leaseholders in a block of flats get together to buy their block’s freehold from the landlord – often seems like an interminable process with a never-ending list of forms to complete and regulations to adhere to.
It’s certainly true that the rules and paperwork can be daunting, but there is a strict regulatory framework with deadlines governing the whole process. These deadlines are designed to allow leaseholders to get the process completed within a reasonable period of time, while still allowing the freeholder time to manage their side of the process.
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Statutory Freehold Enfranchisement – Deadlines Affect Everyone
The legal deadlines apply to both sides in the collective enfranchisement. If the leaseholders miss a deadline when going through the freehold purchase process then the whole process will be declared abandoned by default, or the freeholder can ask the County Court to declare the process invalid. If the freeholder is the one who misses the deadline then it is possible that the collective enfranchisement can be forced through at the original offer price, which gives the landlord no opportunity to negotiate or make a counter offer.
What Happens When the Parties Can’t Agree on a Price
If the freeholder does respond to the initial Enfranchisement Notice and starts to negotiate on price, but then the negotiations over the freehold price reaches stalemate, then the case can then be referred to an official body called the First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber, which was previously called the LVT or Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. This option is only open during a strict four month period which starts two months from the date the Counter Notice is issued, and ends six months after it is issued. Outside of this period the case cannot be referred to the Tribunal and the whole freehold purchase may fail.
Statutory Enfranchisement – failure to serve a counter notice
After the Enfranchisement Notice is served, the freeholder has a period of two months to come back with a Counter Notice. If this doesn’t happen, then they are deemed to have accepted the initial offer. If this happens, the leaseholders who are asking for collective enfranchisement can go ahead and legally purchase their freehold at whatever price they first offered. It is for this reason that freeholders have to stick to the deadlines and get their responses submitted in time – they face financial losses if they don’t.
The deadlines are there to ensure that the freehold purchase goes through as smoothly as possible, and to provide protection for both side. They also give people time to complete the tasks which need to be completed. All of these deadlines should be made clear by the start and you should make sure to stick to them if you don’t want to run the risk of ending up in the County Court to hear your freehold enfranchisement has been declared abandoned.
The enfranchisement process – need for specialist legal advice
It’s much easier to keep on top of all of these requirements and regulations if you have an experienced collective enfranchisement solicitor by your side keeping you right. There aren’t many solicitors who have an in-depth knowledge of this area of the law so make sure that you do your homework. Your solicitor will make sure that you meet all of the deadlines and that the correct paperwork is served in the right way, at the right time.
Sometimes collective enfranchisement projects can fail because of small mistakes in administration – having good legal advice means that the chance of this happening is greatly decreased and that the chance of a successful freehold purchase is maximized.
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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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