Most flats in England and Wales are sold as leasehold properties. This means that the owners do not own the ground or structure of the property, but they’ll have to pay ground rent and a service charge which covers things such as building maintenance, gardening, and the cleaning of the communal areas. Essentially, a leaseholder is renting their home for a really long period of time, but the property is ultimately owned by the freeholder (the landlord).

“Collective Enfranchisement” is where a group of leaseholders in a building of flats under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act (1993), can join together to buy the freehold from the landlord. However, there are specific criteria that must be met if the leaseholders want to go down this road, as not all buildings qualify for Collective Enfranchisement.

How Does a Building Qualify?

It makes no difference if the building is owned by a company or an individual landlord when qualifying for Collective Enfranchisement. However, two-thirds of the premises should be owned by leaseholders who have remaining leases of more than 21 years and who have owned their flat for at least 2 years. If 50% of the leaseholders in the building want to apply for Collective Enfranchisement, a landlord cannot object.

The qualifying criteria can be complex and there are exceptions where leaseholders do not have the right to acquire the freehold through Collective Enfranchisement, such as:

  • Where more than a quarter of the building has a commercial function.
  • Leaseholders own more than two flats in the same building.
  • The building is on National Trust land or is owned by the Crown.

The Role of Property Professionals in Collective Enfranchisement

The role of a property professional in Collective Enfranchisement is key. Due to the complexity of the law surrounding Collective Enfranchisement, it’s important that the correct advice and guidance is sought from an appropriate property professional such as a property solicitor or chartered surveyor.

Firstly, leaseholders need to understand if they meet the eligibility criteria and whether Collective Enfranchisement is best for their situation. For instance, it may be advisable for leaseholders to extend their lease instead of buying the freehold as it may not be feasible in their circumstances. 

The process can be very long and drawn out, so property professionals need to be prepared to support the leaseholders over a long period and be ready to tackle any issues along the way.

For instance, the landlord can offer to sell the freehold to the leaseholders at any time or the leaseholders could group together to approach the landlord with an Initial Notice. The landlord may not respond, or they could come back with a Counter-Notice stating whether they accept or reject the offer and application. There is no guarantee at this point that the freeholder will accept the application as there could be issues that need to be resolved, or they could come back with a completely different offer. However, if the freeholder does not respond, or is late in replying, leaseholders are normally given the right to buy the freehold. As such, accurate guidance from solicitors and surveyors is vital for the leaseholders.

One of the key parts of the Collective Enfranchisement process is getting a valuation on the property. This will need to be completed by an expert chartered surveyor, as it is not enough to estimate the market value. Surveyors play a key role in helping leaseholders understand how much they can offer for the freehold and can assist in negotiations with the landlord. It is also important that surveyors fully assess the building to make sure it is structurally sound and meets the correct regulations. They must also highlight any issues that may affect the overall long-term value of the building. As such, a surveyor will be more involved than they would in a residential conveyancing process for instance.

Those who want to collectively buy the freehold of their building will need to understand the costs involved, the legal implications and the process as it is often not very straightforward.  Professionals such as surveyors, mortgage advisors and conveyancing solicitors will need to be transparent about the legalities and the rights and obligations of the leaseholders, so that they know exactly what they are getting into.  

BWH Solicitors is the leading residential property law firm in Leicestershire and is ranked in the top ten real estate firms in the East Midlands by the Legal 500 guide. We pride ourselves on giving our clients a seamless and efficient end-to-end conveyancing service and adhere to high-quality industry standards. We work with many estate agents and financial advisors as their preferred conveyancing partner. Due to our proactive approach to progressing our clients’ property transactions, we are constantly being referred time and time again. 

Whether you are a property professional, seller, or buyer, we can help with your residential conveyancing queries. To request a personal conveyancing quotation, or to discuss setting up a professional referral relationship with your business, please call us on +44 (0)116 289 7000 or send us an email at

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