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Leasehold Enfranchisement Can Be a Tricky Business

Published: 21 December 2014, in categories: Landlord and Tenant Updates | Legal Updates | News and Updates

Leasehold Enfranchisement Can Be a Tricky Business

In an example of the intricate problems that can face flat dwellers in their attempts to become freeholders, tenants who failed to comply with the letter of the law have had their hopes of ousting their landlords dashed by a Court of Appeal ruling.

Three tenants of flats set within a single house were intent on acquiring the building’s freehold and, with that objective in mind, served a notice on their landlords under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. However, there was a fourth flat in the building’s attic. The tenant of that flat was the landlords’ daughter and she did not participate in the attempt at collective enfranchisement.

The landlords successfully argued before a judge that the notice was a nullity in that it did not give the name of one of the qualifying tenants – their daughter – the address of her flat or the particulars of her lease. Challenging that decision, the other tenants argued that their failure to comply in full with the requirements of the Act was a matter of no significance which had caused no prejudice to their landlords.

In dismissing their appeal, however, the Court rejected arguments that such a strict interpretation of the legislation was contrary to the intention of Parliament. The formal requirements of the Act were mandatory and the judge had therefore rightly decided that the notice was not worth the paper it was written on.

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