Q&A - Can we buy the freehold?


I would like to ask if it is possible for a small block of 6 flats under the umbrella of 30 flat, to buy the freehold of a block separately.



The wording of the question does not allow for the exact structure of this block to be determined, and it is therefore difficult to provide a specific response to your reader.

It would appear, given that your reader has identified that the 6 flats form a small block, that use of the phrase 'under the umbrella of' signifies a small block that is attached to a larger block/ blocks of 24 additional flats.

Assuming the above to be the case Chapter I, Part I of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (“the Act”) sets out what can and cannot be deemed premises for which a claim to buy the block by a least half the qualifying tenants (known as a claim for ‘collective enfranchisement’) may be brought.

Section 3(1) of the Act requires that premises must:

(a)    be a self contained building or part of a building

(b)    contain two or more flats held by qualifying tenants; and

(c)     the total number of flats held by qualifying tenants’ must not be less than two thirds of the total number of flats contained in the premises

A building is a self contained building if it is structurally detached (Section 3(2) of the Act), not thought to be applicable in this instance. Apart of a building is self-contained if:

a)       it constitutes a vertical division of the building and the structure of the building is such that part could be redeveloped independently of the remainder of the building; and

b)      the relevant services (those provided by means of pipes, cables or other fixed installations) provided for occupiers of that part either -

                               i) are provided independently of the relevant services provided for occupiers of the remainder of the building; or

                              ii) could be so provided without involving the carrying out of any works likely to result in a significant interruption in the provision of any such services for occupiers of the remainder of the building

Exceptions to Section 3(1) are provided for within Section 4(1) of the Act, a premises cannot be subjected to a claim for collective enfranchisement under the Act if the total internal floor area of any non-residential parts of the premises (does not include those parts used in conjunction with residential use nor those areas used as common parts) exceeds 25 percent of the entire internal floor area of the premises.

Other exceptions apply where there are different freehold owners of different parts of a self contained building, where there exists a resident landlord and there are less than five units, and where the premises includes track of an operational railway.

Assessment of the premises in light of the above will enable for the reader to establish whether the premises in question is likely to be suitable for a claim pursuant to the Act. It is of course advised that the specifics of the premises are discussed with a specialist lawyer so as to ensure that there is no detail that renders it exempt from a claim under the Act, and that the correct statutory procedure is followed, a failed claim proving costly to those responsible for having made it.

Paul Smith, Associate in the Real Estate Department at JB Leitch Solicitors 

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