Maybe the freeholder is not responding to your attempts to write to them. It is surprisingly frequent for leaseholders of residential property to telephone, write or send an e-mail to their freeholder and to receive no reply. A customary point for this to be uncovered is when buyers or sellers of apartments ought to provide proof of the buildings cover of their block. This is frequently arranged by the freeholder (check the lease to verify whose obligation it is) and it is their obligation to prove to a lender that the estate is adequately insured.

The first issue to keep in mind is that the law is on your side. The second thing is, if one have tried every potential way to contact the freeholder, there is ordinarily a way that the system will allow for flat owners to get the result that one wish for, be that a lease extension, freehold acquisition or Right to Manage (RTM). flat owners will need an enfranchisement solicitor and/or surveyor to be of assistance here and flat owners can find vetted local practitioners at the web site of organisations such as the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners.

possibly the freehold is owned by someone and they may possibly have passed away. Alternatively they may have moved and not informed the Land Registry of their new address, as is their obligation. An alternative option is that you have not been offered the “right of first refusal” in the event that a freehold title was sold. This is prohibited and for 18 months you have the right to annul the sale or buy it yourself.

If your landlord tells you they sold the freehold to someone else, despite the fact that the original landlord’s particulars are on the Title, then legally they remain the landlord. It is their legal obligation to make certain the documentation is up to date.

One of the reasons you may be struggling to get hold of the freeholder is that the business may have ceased to trade, gone into bankruptcy, entered administration or even been struck off by Companies House.

Flat owners may have found that the assets of the freehold company - if the freehold was held by a company - may perhaps have passed to the Crown. The Treasury Solicitor will then almost certainly be content to sell the freehold to one and your neighbours at the open market price, in other words the sum for which a freeholder could sell the freehold at an auction. The eventual charge would be down to flat owners to negotiate.

If the company is in receivership or administration one can serve the notice on the administrator or official receiver. If bankruptcy applies then there will be a trustee upon which to serve the required notice or for one to contact.

If your best labors throw up a blank and you and fellow lessees cannot uncover the freeholder - a situation known as an ‘absent landlord’ or ‘absentee landlord’ - then flat owners can consider applying for a Vesting Order through a County Court.

Initially one should obtain a legally acceptable valuation of the freehold. One should make use of an qualified and credible surveyor with a specialism in Leasehold Enfranchisement. Flat owners possibly will uncover issues with another type of surveyor and one can find a good, vetted and experience local valuer via the surveyor search on the internet site of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP).

When you have the Vesting Order, flat owners can subsequently apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) for them to ascertain the cost to you to acquire the freehold. The process is proscribed in Section 26 of the Leasehold Reform and Urban Development Act for freehold acquisition or Section 50 for lease extensions. Flat owners should be able to purchase the freehold a good deal cheaper than if one COULD locate your freeholder, because the LVT will consider flat owners ‘offer’ price. In view of the fact that there is no counter bid, provided your initial offer is reasonable, one can pay the relevant County Court the agreed amount and begin the process of purchasing your freehold. The money after that goes to the freeholder in the event that they turn up.

One can request a solicitor, surveyor or intermediary to undertake the detective work for you. Be careful to draw on those with track records - their professional association is the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners. There is extensive leg work and you will save a lot of money doing it yourself. Nonetheless, there are a large amount of pitfalls to negotiate so flat owners will need patience and perseverance.

Author's Bio: 

Andy Szebeni is part of the management team of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners. ALEP has more than 100 members, each vetted before joining. They include lease extensions solicitors, surveyors, intermediaries, managing agents and other professionals in England and Wales specialising in the field of leasehold enfranchisement. Have look at the searchable list of vetted members at http://www.alep.org.uk/membership/.