Buying Freehold of Flat is the purchase of your freehold with SAM Conveyancing
Do you need help buying the freehold of a flat?
We can help whether you are offered the freehold, or your are serving notice to buy it.

We have RICS valuers to confirm the price on offer and purchase of freehold solicitors for the conveyancing with Fixed Fees..
 

Buying the freehold of a flat

24/06/2023
(Last Updated: 08/12/2023)
992
11 min read
Any qualifying leaseholders have the right to buy the freehold of their flats and maisonettes and there is no restriction on the length of time that you need to be a leaseholder. The legal term for this is Collective Enfranchisement Purchase of Freehold, however this simply means that the leaseholds are collectively buying their freehold. The process is different if you are a leaseholder of a house: Read more - Buying the Freehold of a Leasehold House.

The leaseholders will either:


Buying the freehold of a flat process


Step 1 - Check you have the right to buy the freehold

Step 2 - Get a RICS Freehold Valuation

Step 3 - Serve the Section 13 Initial Notice and receive Section 21 Counter Notice

Step 4 - Negotiation (if required)

Step 5 - Buy the Freehold Conveyancing


We explain each stage of buying the freehold of a block of flats in more detail below.

    1
    Check you have the right to buy the freehold
  • Check you are eligible
  • (if applicable) Complete a Participation Agreement
  • Choose the Nominee Purchaser

If you have 50% or more leaseholders to buy the freehold then there is no legal obligation for participating tenants to invite all possibly eligible tenants to take part in a freehold purchase but it generally pays to make people aware what's going on.

Eligible
Not Eligible
You have the legal right to buy the freehold when:

  • The freehold has at least two flats with two-thirds having qualifying tenants (read definition below; if there are only 2 flats then both must contain qualifying tenants)
  • There are a minimum of half the leaseholders buying the freehold (if there are only 2 eligible leaseholders then both must participate)
You do not have the legal right to buy the freehold when:

  • the building is a conversion into four or fewer flats
  • the building is not a purpose-built block
  • the same person has owned the freehold since before the conversion of the building into flats AND they or an adult member of his family have lived there for the past 12 months
  • the building is within a cathedral precinct
  • the building is a National Trust property
  • the building is a Crown property

Do you need a Freehold Company?
As a rule if there are more than 2 leaseholders buying the freehold then they should form a limited company and buy the freehold in the name of the company. Like all limited companies, the details are registered with companies house with appropriate memorandum and articles of association, share certificates, directors and filing duties.

If you do decide to set-up a company then you need to do it before serving your notice as the name of the company will need to be stated within the notice to the freeholder. Read more - What is a Leasehold Management Company?


    2
    Get a RICS Freehold Valuation
You need to instruct a RICS valuer to provide a valuation of what the freehold is worth. The valuer’s purpose is to:
  • provide a valuation that allows the leaseholders to put forward an offer in their section 13 notice;
  • ensure the leaseholders are aware of the cost of the premium prior to serving the notice; and
  • reduce the time and cost of putting forward an inaccurate premium (see Negotiations)

Read more - What is a freehold valuation?

The valuation date for the cost of the premium you pay, corresponds to the date the notice is served. This date is when many of the variables affecting the price of the freehold are set, such as present values of flats, years left on leases etc.

    3
    Serve the Section 13 Initial Notice and receive Section 21 Counter Notice
The Section 13 Initial Notice triggers the statutory process and from the date the landlord receives it, all participating tenants are jointly and severally liable for the landlord's reasonable costs. Read more - What are the reasonable costs of the freeholder?

Your solicitor registers the notice with the Land Registry to ensure that even if the freeholder sells the building to another freeholder, the new freeholder still has to respond in the prescribed way to the notice.

Do I need a solicitor when buying the freehold of a flat?

Whilst parts of the process can be undertaken without legal representation you are best to work with a solicitor who is qualified to handle the legal work; not many solicitors are competent to provide this service.

A risk if you choose to not instruct a solicitor is an incorrectly served notice. The Section 13 notice must be complete and without inaccuracies because even though you can apply to the county court to correct them, it will add a further cost to the process. An incomplete notice can be thrown out as invalid.


Landlord's Section 21 Counter-Notice
The landlord has to serve a Section 21 Counter-Notice by the date specified in the Initial Notice which can be no shorter than 2 months. Their notice must either:

  • Agree to selling the freehold and accept your terms or propose alternative terms; or
  • Not agree to the sale, giving reasons for the court to determine; or
  • Neither agree nor disagree to the sale, stating that an application for the landlord to redevelop all or part of the building is to be made to the court.

    4
    Negotiation
Negotiations start when you receive the freeholder's Counter-Notice as they will either agree to your terms or they will propose a counter offer. They may even dispute your right to purchase freehold of flat. In most cases the issue revolves around the premium (money) on offer to buy the freehold of a flat which is why it is so important your original offer was based on a RICS valuation.

The landlord can avoid selling the freehold if they can prove that they intend to demolish all or part of the building and redevelop it. They can only do this if at least two-thirds of all the building's leases are set to end within 5 years of the serving of the Initial Notice.

Buying Freehold of Flat Statutory Time Limits

  • The freeholder must serve their Section 21 Counter Notice on or before the date stated in the Section 13 Notice.
  • If the counter-notice rejects any of the terms of the initial notice, the leaseholders and freeholder have 2 months after the date stated in the Counter-Notice to negotiate the terms and premium.
  • After the first 2 months, the leaseholder has 4 months to make an application to the Tribunal to determine the terms/premium of the purchase of freehold.
  • The leaseholder and freeholder have 4 months after the date they both agreed to the terms to complete the purchase of freehold. If there is a delay, neither party can make an application to court for the first 2 months after terms are agreed ('Appropriate Period'), however should make an application for a court order in the 3rd month. You cannot make an application after 4 months.



    5
    Buy the Freehold Conveyancing

The final stage in the process is to handle the transfer of the freehold title from the freeholder to the leaseholders. You will need specialist collective enfranchisement solicitors to handle this for you (which you should have in place at the point of serving the notice).

The end result will be that on the day of completion, your solicitor transfers the premium to acquire the freehold to the freeholder's solicitors and they confirm completion.

Post completion your solicitor handles registering the freehold in the name of the new freeholders; either as stated names, or as in the name of the company (with shares distributed according to number of leaseholders - so 50% if there are 2 leaseholders).

What is the cost of buying freehold from your landlord?

The costs of purchasing the freehold can be considerable and as you are sharing these with other leaseholders you should look to budget for the premium, solicitor and surveyor costs, plus the reasonable costs of the freeholder.

Read more - What are the costs of buying the freehold of your flat?

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.


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