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May 2

Can You Be Forced To Sell Your Freehold?

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Under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, leaseholders are granted the legal entitlement to acquire the freehold of their building, a process known as Collective Enfranchisement. This provision empowers tenants to initiate the sale of the freehold at their discretion, posing a potential disruption to your long-term property investment plans. It’s imperative for freeholders to grasp this aspect of leasehold law, as it directly impacts their property rights and financial interests.

However, the Collective Enfranchisement process necessitates unity among leaseholders, as individuals cannot independently purchase the freehold under the 1993 Act. Instead, a collective effort comprising at least 50% of the total number of flats in the building is required. Moreover, both the tenants and the property itself must meet specific qualifications to qualify for Collective Enfranchisement. Understanding these criteria and the implications of Collective Enfranchisement is crucial for freeholders to safeguard their property assets and navigate leasehold regulations effectively.

 

What is a qualifying freehold?

To be eligible for Collective Enfranchisement, a residential freehold property must meet specific criteria. Firstly, it should comprise a minimum of two flats. Additionally, no more than 25% of the property can be allocated for non-residential purposes, such as shops or offices. Moreover, at least two-thirds of the flats within the property must be owned by qualifying tenants. Understanding these requirements is essential for leaseholders considering Collective Enfranchisement as a strategic option for property management.

 

What is a qualifying tenant?

A qualifying tenant is someone holding a long lease initially granted for 21 years or more. This classification is crucial for individuals seeking to exercise their rights under Collective Enfranchisement. Understanding the definition of a qualifying tenant is fundamental for leaseholders navigating property ownership and management.

 

What happens when you’re served notice?

Upon receiving a Collective Enfranchisement notice, you’ll have a 21-day window to request evidence demonstrating the eligibility of participating tenants for enfranchisement. Subsequently, tenants will be afforded an additional 21 days to provide a response.

 

How much will Collective Enfranchisement cost?

Collective Enfranchisement won’t incur any direct costs for a freeholder apart from the potential loss of ground rent or service charges. However, leaseholders will bear expenses for their legal and valuation fees, alongside those of the freeholder. Additionally, they’ll cover the freehold purchase price, Land Registry fees, and possibly stamp duty and land tax if the purchase exceeds £125,000. Incorporation fees may also apply if leaseholders opt for this route to acquire the freehold.

 

Can a freeholder refuse to sell the freehold?

A freeholder has the right to decline selling the freehold if the qualifying criteria aren’t met. For instance, if less than 50% of leaseholders want to participate in the purchase, the decision to sell rests entirely with the freeholder.

 

How much should leaseholders pay to buy the freehold?

Legally, as the freeholder, you have the authority to establish the purchase price for your freehold interest. However, it’s improbable that leaseholders would agree to pay an exorbitant amount for the freehold title. If a dispute arises over the price, leaseholders can escalate the matter to a First Tier Tribunal, which will determine a fair purchase price and compel you to sell the freehold accordingly. This entails both parties obtaining professional valuations for negotiation purposes and any ensuing legal proceedings.

 

Selling the freehold on the open market

If the idea of unexpectedly relinquishing your freehold title concerns you, taking proactive steps to initiate the sale might be a preferable course of action. Selling your freehold on the open market can be straightforward, especially when selecting a reputable buyer. However, it’s essential to note that tenants still retain the Right of First Refusal under Part 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, albeit under your supervision. This legal obligation ensures that tenants are given the opportunity to purchase the freehold, subject to similar qualification criteria as Collective Enfranchisement.

The process begins with the issuance of a Section 5 Notice to tenants, which must adhere to prescribed formats and strict timelines. This notice includes crucial details such as the desired purchase price, among other pertinent information. Once the price is determined, you’re prohibited from offering the freehold to another party under more favorable terms for the subsequent 12 months. Hence, it’s prudent to set a realistic price in the Right of First Refusal offer letter that aligns with market expectations.

 

What happens if you fail to offer the Right of First Refusal?

Failure to adhere to the Right of First Refusal regulations when conducting a private sale can result in legal repercussions. Violations may lead to criminal prosecution and fines of up to £5000. Additionally, qualifying tenants possess rights of remedy, empowering them to request pertinent sale-related information and compel the new landlord to sell to them at the same price paid for the property.

 

How do you value the freehold?

You can quickly estimate the value of your freehold using our Freehold Calculator, which is based on current market data. This tool offers an approximate value of your freehold ground rents, aiding your decision-making process regarding whether to sell or retain ownership. By inputting relevant details, such as the type of property and lease terms, you can gain insights into the potential worth of your freehold.

Alternatively, our team at Freehold Sale offers complimentary appraisals of freehold ground rents. With extensive experience in valuing residential freehold properties and access to Land Registry data, we ensure thorough assessments to assist you effectively. Our experts take into account various factors, including market trends, property location, and lease terms, to provide an accurate evaluation tailored to your specific situation.

If you’ve received a notice for collective enfranchisement, it’s essential to obtain a professional valuation from a chartered surveyor. Your leaseholders will also need to undergo valuation procedures, with costs covered by both parties. Our team can guide you through this process, offering support and expertise to ensure fair and transparent negotiations.

Whether you’re considering selling your freehold or navigating collective enfranchisement proceedings, our comprehensive services are designed to meet your needs. With our assistance, you can make informed decisions and protect your interests in the property market.

 

Final thoughts

Leaseholders have the legal right to compel you to sell the freehold, regardless of your track record as a landlord. It’s essential not to take this personally. To navigate this situation effectively, it’s advisable to enlist the expertise of a competent conveyancing solicitor and an experienced chartered surveyor. With their guidance, you can secure the best possible sale price and ensure a seamless sales process.

 

 

 

MORE Property blogs HERE: 

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Cashing Out of Buy To Let? Top Places to Make a Quick Sale

Buy-to-let Home Insurance UK

Why Are Buy-to-Let Mortgages Interest Only?

Is Buy-to-Let Still Profitable Today?

A Comprehensive Guide to Buy-to-Let Mortgages

First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Buy-to-Let Mortgages


Tags

Can You Be Forced To Sell Your Freehold?, How much will Collective Enfranchisement cost?, What happens when you’re served notice?, What is a qualifying freehold?, What is a qualifying tenant?


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