What is Collective Enfranchisement? Your Guide

Collective Enfranchisement: a term that may sound daunting, yet holds the key to an empowering process in property ownership.

In essence, it is a legal provision that enables leaseholders to band together and purchase the freehold of their building, providing greater control and potentially enhancing the property’s value.

It’s a complex topic, but understanding it could be your ticket to a more secure property future. In this guide, we will demystify collective enfranchisement, examining its intricacies, potential benefits, and the steps involved in the process.

Whether you’re a seasoned property owner, flat leaseholder, or just stepping into the realm of real estate, this guide promises to be an enlightening journey into the heart of collective enfranchisement.

What is Collective Enfranchisement?

Collective Enfranchisement is a legal process that falls under the auspices of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. This act provides a unique right to leaseholders of flats within a building, enabling them to come together and purchase the freehold of their property. 

This process of collective enfranchisement can be a powerful tool for leaseholders to gain more control over their living situation, potentially reducing service charges and ground rents. 

It’s essential to understand that the act has specific eligibility criteria and involves a complex legal process, thus professional advice is often necessary.

Collective Enfranchisement vs Right to Manage (RTM)

Collective enfranchisement is often confused with the Right to Manage (RTM). In our Right to Manage vs Collective Enfranchisement Guide, we covered how both RTM and enfranchisement claims follow a similar process and, where not contentious, can cost roughly the same.

However, where RTM allows leaseholders to take on some obligations without having full control, Collective Enfranchisement gives leaseholders all the benefits of RTM along with the benefits of owning a share in the freehold. 

That’s why we would always encourage leaseholders to consider collective enfranchisement as a preferable option.

What are the Benefits of Collective Enfranchisement?

Engaging in Collective Enfranchisement opens a wealth of opportunities for leaseholders. Let’s explore some noteworthy benefits:

  • Financial Advantages: Owning a share of the freehold can increase the value of your property. Plus, service charges and ground rents could potentially be reduced.
  • Decision-making Power: As part of the freehold owners, you have a say in the management of the building. You can influence decisions that affect the property, like maintenance and service provision.
  • Lease Extensions: Owning the freehold allows you to extend leases up to 999 years at zero ground rent, giving you long-term security and improving your property’s value.
  • Control over Insurance: You can take charge of building insurance arrangements, ensuring comprehensive coverage at a fair price.
  • No More External Landlord: With collective enfranchisement, you’re no longer subject to an external landlord’s decisions or control, you make them collectively.

However, it’s important to remember that these benefits come with responsibilities. As a freeholder, you’ll need to manage and maintain communal areas, ensure buildings are insured and carry out statutory duties. Therefore, collective enfranchisement is a major step that should be considered carefully with the help of a professional freehold purchase advisor.

Assessing Your Eligibility for Collective Enfranchisement

Qualifying for Collective Enfranchisement

To qualify for collective enfranchisement, certain conditions must be met as outlined by the Leasehold Reform Act. It is important to note that the term ‘qualifying tenant’ refers specifically to leaseholders who own a lease which was originally granted for a term exceeding 21 years.

  • Qualifying Tenants: At least two-thirds of the flats in the building must be owned by ‘qualifying tenants’.
  • Number of Flats: The building must contain at least two flats. If the building consists of four or fewer flats, and the freeholder (or an adult member of their family) has lived in one of the flats as their main home for at least the past 12 months, then it will not qualify for collective enfranchisement.
  • Residential Units: The building must be predominantly residential, meaning it has no more than 25% floor area for non-residential.

There can be exceptions to these rules, they are complex areas of law that require professional advice. It is important for leaseholders to understand these requirements before proceeding with collective enfranchisement.

Find full details of collective enfranchisement qualification criteria at Lease Advice.

Collective Enfranchisement Process: First Steps

Starting at the beginning of your journey, those first few steps look like this:

Selecting and instructing professional advisers

When buying the freehold of your flat, professional advisers can provide crucial advice on legal, valuation, and practical matters concerning the collective enfranchisement process. It is important to choose experienced professionals who specialise in this area of freehold purchase and can help guide you through the complex process.

Checking eligibility (of the building, the tenants etc)

The collective enfranchisement process then begins with a thorough eligibility check. It is imperative for flat owners to determine if their building meets the criteria that qualify it for collective enfranchisement.

As mentioned above, key among these criteria is that the building must house more than two flats. It is also important to establish if at least two-thirds of these flat owners are ‘qualifying tenants’, holding a lease that was originally granted for a term exceeding 21 years.

By confirming these details, prospective participating leaseholders can ensure they are on solid ground before proceeding with the often-complex process of collective enfranchisement.

Organising for enfranchisement

Leaseholders will then need to come together and form an enfranchisement company, which will act as the buyer of the freehold. The company will need to raise the necessary funds to purchase the freehold.

Incorporating the nominee purchaser

You should then incorporate a nominee purchaser company, who will act on the leaseholders’ behalf throughout the collective enfranchisement process.

Valuation stage

The valuation stage is one of the most critical parts of the collective enfranchisement process. Valuing a freehold is complex and requires expertise so that you can negotiate a fair price with the freeholder. The valuation should be carried out by an experienced valuer who specialises in leasehold reform, and they will consider factors such as the length remaining on your lease, ground rent, service charges, and the condition of the building.

Serving a formal notice

Once the above steps are completed, a formal notice must be served to the freeholder. This notice should include details such as the enfranchisement company’s name, names of participating flat owners, nominee purchaser, price offered for the freehold, etc. The freeholder has two months to respond with a counter-notice, either accepting or rejecting the terms of the notice.

Preparing for the subsequent procedures

Another course of action may be to involve the First-Tier Tribunal (FTT). The FTT provides an efficient and cost-effective method for resolving disputes related to property and leasehold, including cases where a fair agreement on the freehold purchase price cannot be negotiated following a counter-notice from the freeholder.

Find the full collective enfranchisement process in our complete guide. Read today.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, collective enfranchisement is a complex process that requires careful consideration and professional advice. By understanding the eligibility requirements and following the necessary steps, qualifying leaseholders can take control of their building, improve their living conditions and secure their financial future.

One important thing to note is that collective enfranchisement also brings with it responsibilities, such as managing the building’s maintenance and repairs, ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations, etc. It is crucial for enfranchisement company directors to work together in the best interests of all leaseholders to ensure the smooth running of the building.

If you are considering collective enfranchisement, seek professional advice from experienced freehold purchase professionals who can guide you through the process and help you enfranchise in the smoothest possible fashion.

At The Freehold Collective, we specialise in organising collective enfranchisement and taking them all the way through to purchasing their freehold. We have years of experience dealing with complex leasehold reform matters, and our approach can provide you with the expertise and support you need to successfully enfranchise.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help. Discover what our previous clients have to say about our services below.

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Collective Enfranchisement FAQs

How do you qualify for enfranchisement?

To qualify for enfranchisement, you must be a leaseholder of a qualifying property. This means that the building must have at least two flats and no more than 25% of the internal floor area used for non-residential purposes.

What is a collective enfranchisement claim?

A collective enfranchisement claim is a legal process where qualifying leaseholders come together to purchase the freehold of their building from the current landlord. This allows them to take control of their building and make decisions collectively, freeing them from the limitations of a landlord-tenant relationship.

What is a collective freehold?

A collective freehold is when a group of qualifying leaseholders come together to purchase the freehold of their building, forming an enfranchisement company. The enfranchisement company then becomes the new freeholder, and each participating leaseholder becomes a shareholder in the company.

This allows them to have equal control over decision-making regarding the management and maintenance of their building.  So, if you are a leaseholder and want to take control of your building’s freehold, collective enfranchisement could be the solution for you.