How To Buy Your Freehold

Specialist Lease Enfranchisement SolicitorsHow To Buy Your Freehold. Freehold purchase solicitors

Freehold purchase of a block of flats (which is often referred to as collective or lease enfranchisement) can only be successful when a certain number of leaseholders participate.

(This page deals with buying the freehold of a block of flats.
Click here to read about buying the freehold of your house)

Do you need a minimum number of people to qualify to buy your freehold?

Yes, 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. This can lead to a “chicken and egg” situation which needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.

Looking for Specialist Advice How To Buy Your Freehold? Call FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE Initial Phone Advice – with no strings attached.

Your right to enfranchise – practical problems with bigger blocks

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. And that’s why with medium and large blocks, putting everyone involved to sign up to it is known as a “participation agreement” is really important.
Click here to read more about Participation Agreements

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 the process of buying your freehold 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.
Do make sure that you 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. (see below for more about the cost of enfranchisement).

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 them 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.

Will we need to form a company to jointly own the freehold?

Yes – click here to read more about your collective enfranchisement company

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 much will it cost to buy our freehold?

There is no simple and straightforward answer to this 1. Broadly it depends entirely on your particular circumstances, and in particular the value of all flats in the block. But in general terms you will need to pay the following:

•     The premium – i.e. the price you pay your freeholder to purchase the freehold.
Click here to read more about the Enfranchisement Valuation – and how your premium is calculated

•     Your solicitors legal fees

•     Your surveyors fees for valuing the premium and helping with negotiating the price

•     The freeholder’s “reasonable” legal and valuation costs incurred by your freeholder

Click here to read more about Enfranchisement Costs in more detail

Do we need specialist solicitors?

Absolutely – the vast majority of conveyancing or indeed other solicitors rarely, if ever, come across freehold purchase. And sadly, in our experience, too many of those who dabble in the area make fundamental mistakes.

In contrast, our 5 strong leasehold team does nothing but lease extension, enfranchisement and right to manage applications. They are possibly the biggest and specialist team of the type in the country. And over the years we have assisted approximately 10,000 people to buy their freehold, extend their leases or take over the right to manage their block.

But don’t just take our word for it. We are the only solicitors recommended for this kind of work by The HomeOwners Alliance (Britain’s leading organisation to champion the interests of the nation’s homeowners).

What happens if the freeholder tries to sell the freehold to a third party?

In general terms, it’s a criminal offence for your freeholder to try to sell on the freehold to someone else without offering it formally to leaseholders first.
Click here to find out more about the Right of 1st Refusal

What happens if our freeholder is missing and can’t be found?

Don’t worry. Our experienced team have a solution for that – the vesting order. And, unlike most solicitors, we handle these on a regular basis.
Click here to read more about buying your freehold and vesting orders

How To Enfranchise Your Lease – A 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

  • Call us today on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or
  • email us using our contact form for FREE initial advice and a FREE quote.