Leasehold enfranchisment - building freehold but plot leasehold

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    Leasehold enfranchisment - building freehold but plot leasehold

    Hi All,

    I am seeking leasehold enfranchisement for a block of 4 flats, along with my neighbours, since we have a dwindling 74 years to run on the lease and are unhappy with the performance of the management company who are the freeholder for the building. We thought this would be a straightforward process, but it transpires that the plot is split across two titles, and the management co only have Good Leasehold title over one of these plots which is on an 800 year lease (they have freehold on the other plot). The flats were built in 1987 and the management co acquired the leasehold of the plot in 1997, but they claim not to know the landlord/freeholder of the plot. Land Registry list the original freeholders for the plot when the lease was created in the 1870s, but not the subsequent or current freeholders, and they say the freeholder is not required to be listed/known for Good Leasehold title.

    We made our Initial Notice for enfranchisement to set the process going, and the management co returned a counter offer, but didn't particularly acknowledge the issue over their missing freeholder. Our solicitor suggested we could not proceed with the missing plot freeholder position, and would need to obtain a country court vesting order to force the sale and decide the split in funds between management co and missing freeholder (held by the court in trust). We have had disappointing service from solicitors - our first, a specialist in the field, but unwilling to take on a more complex case requiring tribunal/court procedures. A second who quoted so high he clearly didn't want the work. And a third who said he was happy to take on the work but has made no real progress.

    My question is whether our original solicitor was right that we cannot proceed given the missing plot freeholder. I wonder if we can buy freehold of the building and part plot, plus take over leasehold of the other plot, i.e. take over our management co's position. Presumably they did just that in 1997.

    Secondly, has anyone gone through LVT and county court in a similar situation themselves, without legal representation? I know the standard advice is to get professional representation, but we have been let down by that route, and one would hope that the LVT and county court might hand-hold a little for someone doing it themselves, but I suppose the management co's solicitor may lay some traps for me, as they don't seem inclined to be helpful in my dealings with them so far.

    #2
    Our solicitor suggested we could not proceed with the missing plot freeholder position, and would need to obtain a country court vesting order to force the sale and decide the split in funds between management co and missing freeholder (held by the court in trust).
    Well thats almost right although what he likely explained was this:

    Our solicitor said that we could not proceed with the missing freeholder, UNTIL we obtain a country court vesting order to force the sale and decide the split in funds between management co and missing freeholder (held by the court in trust).

    Even if you applied for right to manage, the Court will need to order that too.

    if that is what was said then that is what was needed to be done and its not an area many solicitors deal with so they should seek counsels advice to draft proceedings.
    Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for your reply.

      Indeed, "until" should have been in my explanation, apologies.

      But is the court order necessary for us to obtain leasehold for the plot and freehold for the building, i.e. the current position of the management co, rather than full freehold of the site (which would obviously be preferable, but complex to achieve).

      Could you elaborate on "seek counsels advice"? Is this something a private individual can do?

      Thanks again.

      Comment


        #4
        The free guide from LEASE may help and page 9 covers you situation :

        http://www.lease-advice.org/document...ng_Started.pdf

        Get a quote from Legalmaze and see what they what advice they offer.

        Comment


          #5
          Yes you are going to have to apply to enfranchise the head lease and both freeholds and ask the Court to determine this and the value(s) via the FTT.

          Counsel are in this case barristers who are familiar with the law and drafting proceedings for this and while you can instruct them direct its best to have your workaday solicitor do that use them as a “specialist”. Counsel may also be required to argue in the Court.
          Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for the informative replies.

            I will try to speak to Legalmaze tomorrow for their input/quote.

            A few more questions meanwhile!

            Would I be very unwise to try to do this myself though? Given you're suggesting input from a specialist barrister it doesn't sound like a DIY task, but would I not simply state my case and the court/FTT decide the inevitable outcome?

            Unfortunately over 6 months (7 ish) has passed since our landlord returned their counter notice to our initial notice, as we have been researching the missing freeholder and waiting for action from our solicitor, so time has got away from us. Does this mean we need to resubmit our initial notice, or does the missing freeholder count as a special circumstance, which might make their counter notice invalid anyway?

            In these circumstances, should we submit forms to the FTT first, or go straight to court and they refer us to FTT?

            Finally, should we set up our management company prior to court and FTT? The issue is now further complicated by one party wanting to drop out and obtain lease extension instead as he wants to sell.

            Comment


              #7
              I have been clear in that this is not a DIY issue. The FTT and to an extent the Court has an inguistorial role but they are not there to make your case for you, and in this case are more concerned about protecting the asset which will be removed. The advisor can consider the position with the notices as I doubt that all is presented above and gong into such detail on a difficlut case is outside the scope fo a free forum. You are asking, without malice or greed , for about £1500 worth of work.

              As to setting up your company that depends on who made the claimi the notices. If people are dropping out and given the cost of the freehold, much of which is lease extensions, perhaps you are better off with RTM and extend leases as required.
              Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks for the reply and your helpful input so far. I am not meaning to ask for work based specifically on our case but just for the benefit of others' experience of similar cases, sorry if I have over stepped the mark.

                A few more questions based on your comments, if I may:

                Are you suggesting that determining whether the Initial Notice should be resubmitted would amount to £1500 of work? If so, we should just resubmit to save the argument, although this will probably waste a further 3 months.

                I am not disputing that a solicitor may be necessary but could you explain why? I am trying to convince my neighbour to stay onboard with the process but the failings of our solicitors to date have a bearing on this. We would prefer to rely on ourselves, and am hopeful that I can articulate the facts and our position reasonably well, such that the court and FTT, with their inquisitorial role, would have enough information to be able to pass favourable judgement. My impression is that the rules are fairly strict so the judgement could only have one conclusion, but please correct me if I am mistaken and help me explain to my neighbour why we need representation.

                For completeness; the initial notice was submitted with named individuals rather than a company so I presume we could proceed on that basis.

                I take onboard your comment regarding a lease extension and taking on RTM. It is an option, but I understand the cost of extension is likely to almost equal the cost of enfranchisement (if it weren't for missing freeholder). I would be loathed to reward our landlord for not knowing their freeholder, by paying a full premium but not actually securing the asset, but appreciate it may be the easiest/lowest overall cost option, so will keep it in mind, particularly if my neighbour is dropping out.

                Comment

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