I am proceeding under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 and have agreed the terms of the lease extension, but have not completed. What can I do?
In circumstances where the freeholder has refused to complete or is unwilling to do so for a number of reasons, it may become necessary to make an application under the County Court. This needs to be done within a certain time frame with terms being agreed or there is a significant risk that the claim will be lost.
You should take specialist advice on this, but in general terms the relevant time frame is 4 months from the date on which all of the terms where agreed.
If you are proceeding in a voluntary transaction (where no notices have been served) then there is no obligation for the landlord to cooperate with you, unless you have exchanged a contract or have some other enforceable mechanism to ensure that the lease is granted. For further guidance on this, expert help will be required.
If you have served a Notice and not received a Counter Notice in response by the due date, then the landlord is deemed to have admitted the premium that you proposed to pay in your Notice.
You should seek expert assistance, but can probably enforce the grant of the new lease at this level.
It may become necessary to apply to court in order to do this, and as there are certain time limits for doing so it would make sense to seek specialist help on this sooner rather than later.
You will also need to be able to demonstrate to the court that the Notice was in fact ‘served’ – i.e. proof of service will be required.
The first thing to do is to carry out a search at the Land Registry based on the address of the property. Help from a solicitor will enable you to do this.
The Land Registry has a website which does also have public access facilities.
In the case of unregistered land, it may be more difficult to locate the freeholder by a search of publicly held information and it may be necessary to serve an information Notice under the leasehold reform legislation.
For further assistance with this please consult a professional.
Tip: Your freeholder’s address and detail should appear on the ground rent demands as this is a legal requirement in accordance with the provision of Section 47 and 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987.
This is a question that often comes up in practice. If the freeholder really is missing and sufficient steps have been taken to try to find him then there is a process under which a court can accept service of a claim to an extended lease on behalf of the missing person. The claim will then be remitted to the First Tier Tribunal for determination of the premium to be paid and the amount required will be paid into court.
The court will grant the lease on behalf of the missing person.
It is important to realise that appropriate steps must be taken to demonstrate the freeholder is genuinely ‘missing’. Similarly, valuation advice will need to be obtained as a report will need to be submitted to the tribunal indicating the likely price to be paid for the extension. The tribunal has the role of acting in the place of the ‘missing’ person and will examine the valuer on the contents of his report if need be and can adjust the price to be paid.