The Devil is in the Detail

A group  of flat owners' collective enfranchisement claim to acquire the freehold of a partially redeveloped block of flats in prime central London has failed in the High Court.

The flat owners’ claim to acquire the freehold of a mixed-use building by way of collective enfranchisement pursuant to the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (LRHUDA 1993) was rejected by Fancourt J, who found in favour of the freeholder and intermediate landlord of the building.

There were disputes between the parties regarding the number of flats and qualifying flat owners in the building, following works to extend and redevelop a couple of floors.

The tenant’s lawyer served a claim notice stating that there were 26 flats in the building and then attempted to reserve her clients’ position by serving a second notice, without prejudice to the first claim notice, on the basis that there were 30 flats. In response the landlords served valid counter-notices rejecting both claims.

It was held by the court that there were 30 flats in the building when the first claim notice was served. This meant that the first claim notice was invalid because it did not include details of the qualifying tenants of some of the flats as required by section 13 of LRHUDA 1993.

To make matters worse for the flat owners, the second notice was deemed withdrawn because no application in respect of the second notice was made to the court within a period of two months from the date on which the counter-notices were given, in accordance with the requirements of section 22 of LRHUDA 1993. Since the tenants' application had only cited the first claim notice, which was invalid, no valid application had been made.

The case highlights just how complex this area of the law can be and also of the importance of following every technical detail of it. Our specialist leasehold enfranchisement team would be delighted to assist you with your claim and so if you need advice on the subject or for a free, no obligation chat, please contact our head of the Lease Extensions & Enfranchisement Team, Ahmed Anwar on 020 7722 9898.