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Buying the freehold

If a group of leaseholders and the building where their flats are situated meet certain conditions, they have the right to purchase the freehold of their building together. This is known as ‘enfranchisement’.

To buy the freehold of your building, there must be two or more flats in the building and at least two-thirds of all the flats in the building must be owned by ‘qualifying tenants’.

For example, if there are four flats in the building, at least three must be owned by leaseholders who are qualifying tenants.

If there are only two flats in the building, both flats must be owned by ‘qualifying tenants’.

What is a qualifying tenant?

A qualifying tenant means that you own a long lease. If your lease was originally granted under the Right to Buy, you will be a qualifying tenant (it doesn't matter if you are the original Right to Buy purchaser or not). However, you are not a qualifying tenant if you own more than two of the flats in the building or if you have sublet your flat on a long lease (over 21 years).

If your building doesn't qualify, you can still apply to extend your own lease.

What if some of the flats are owned by the council?

If there are any flats in the building still owned by the council, the new freeholder has to lease the flats back to the council. This will protect the rights of any council tenants who live in the building. If you are thinking of buying the freehold with the other leaseholders in the building, we strongly advise you discuss how you plan to manage the building, arrange buildings insurance, organise repairs, etc.

How can I find out if my building qualifies?

If you want to check if your building qualifies, you can serve a formal ‘discovery notice’. Serving this notice doesn't commit you to anything.

We can give you informal advice on whether your building qualifies, and also a general idea of the price based on previous sales. However, we cannot tell you exactly what you would have to pay.

Further information can be obtained by contacting the Sales Team in Home Ownership on 020 7527 7705.

Serving a legal notice

Serving a legal notice called an ‘initial notice’ starts off the formal process of buying the freehold of your building.

Once you have given us the notice, you will have to pay our costs, even if you do not go on to buy the freehold.

In order to be valid, the notice must include the following:

  • Details of the property which you want to buy including a plan
  • A statement that the building qualifies
  • The names and addresses of all the qualifying tenants and details of their leases
  • The name and address of the buyer
  • The price you propose to pay

We recommend that you get professional legal and valuation advice to make sure the notice is valid.

You must give us at least two months from the date of the notice to respond.

We will serve a “counter notice” in which we could accept your proposals, add other conditions or disagree that you have the right to purchase the freehold.

Negotiations will then follow, and if after certain time limits there is no agreement, either side can apply to the First Tier Tribunal who will make a decision which will be binding on both parties.

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