Mark Chick: Enfranchisement Under The 1993 Act
Mark Chick is a property expert, specialist leasehold solicitor and a Partner at Bishop & Sewell LLP. He is also a Director of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP).
The following article is a reproduction of part of the “Take No Notice” talk given by Mark Chick along with Andrew Pridell of APA Associates at the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP) Autumn Conference on 18th October 2011.
Whilst this was a talk aimed at professionals (a full set of notes appears at (www.leaseholdreformnews.com), serving notice under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban development Act 1993 is not as easy it seems and there are a few points that anyone looking to engage with this area should bear in mind.
- The notice must be signed personally by the qualifying flat owner. For instance, someone holding a power of attorney cannot sign for someone else;
- A UK company will need to execute the notice as a deed. An overseas company will present different issues;
- Any offer figure must be made in ‘good faith.’ This has a specific technical meaning and ideally therefore (although it is not mandatory) specialist valuation advice needs to be obtained;
- Allocating any offer figure must be done correctly. This will involve consideration of technical issues such as more freeholds, or other leasehold areas to be included in the claim. If there are other leasehold interests or superior (head) leases then this too needs careful consideration. The valuation and legal advisor will need to liaise closely;
- The notice needs to be addressed to the correct parties. Once again this is technical and any slips will make the notice void. The list to be served may include other landlords and other parties. The right addresses for service are not always readily apparent;
- Multiple signatures of a single notice may present significant legal issues particularly if this is done without proper advice and supervision. Using a solicitor will almost certainly aid in the event of a challenge.
Bear in mind that if the notice is not served correctly that you will be liable for the landlord’s costs of investigating your claim and serving counter notice (legal and valuation) and you will have to start all over again. If your lease has slipped below a critical point (e.g. below 80 years), then irreparable damage may be done.
A Collective Claim
Similarly, in a collective claim where many people have to sign a notice, if there is an invalid notice vital impetus will be lost and the claim may take a long time to start going again. This is to say nothing of the possible cost and inconvenience of a court case investigating the notice if invalidity is not conceded.
Likewise, without the benefit of specialist help, where difficulties have arisen, those qualifying may actually withdraw a perfectly good claim – leading to the position that they cannot bring a fresh claim for another year.
For these reasons (among others) specialist help should always be sought. As such you should always use a firm of legal or valuation advisors with a proven track record in this area, such as an ALEP member.
For advice on this and other leasehold issues please contact Bishop & Sewell LLP on:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7631 4141
email: [email protected]