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Collective Enfranchisement (buying the freehold of your building)


Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended)

The right for leaseholders of a building, or part of a building, to join together and buy the freehold of that building from their freeholder (landlord).


  • Qualifying as a leaseholder
    • To qualify a leaseholder must have a long lease, which is defined as a lease with at least 21 years when first granted.
    • A shared ownership lease is a long lease if the owner has “staircased” up to 100% ownership.
    • A leaseholder will not be a qualifying leaseholder if they own more than two flats in the building. They would not be qualifying leaseholder of any of the flats.
  • The Building
    • Building must be a self-contained building, or part of a building. If part of a building it must constitute a vertical division of the building, with services either independent to that part, or could be so provided without significant interruption to the remaining part.
    • There must be at least two flats in the building and at least two-thirds of the flats must be owned by qualifying leaseholders.
    • No more than 25% of the internal floor area, excluding common areas, to be in non-residential use, e.g. shops or offices.
    • At least half the flats in the building must participate and those flat owners must be qualifying leaseholders.

Exceptions to the right to buy the freehold

    • No right for leaseholders to buy the freehold if the building is:
      • a conversion into four or fewer flats and
      • it is not a purpose-built block and
      • the same person has owned the freehold since before the conversion took place and
      • they, or an adult member of their family, has lived there for the past 12 months.

Other exceptions

  • Buildings within a cathedral precinct.
  • National trust properties
  • Crown properties (although they still may allow ,consideration given on a case by case basis)
  • The freehold includes any operational railway e.g. bridge tunnel, track.

Property included in the claim

  • The freehold of the premises in which the qualifying leaseholders’ flats are contained, i.e. the block or building.
  • The freehold of the premises purchased will also include any “appurtenant property” which means: premises belonging to or usually enjoyed with the flat, such as garages, outhouses garden or yard or gardens and premises. Also property which a qualifying leaseholder is entitled to use under the terms of his lease in common with occupiers of other premises. This would include such things as communal gardens, driveways, sports facilities such as a gymnasium (note that the freeholder has the option of granting equivalent rights over such common areas rather than transferring the freehold).


  • At least half the flats in the building, being qualifying leaseholders, join together and instruct a solicitor and surveyor to act for them. This is not a legal requirement but is advisable due to the complexity of the process and the importance of a proper valuation.
  • The surveyor uses the formula in the 1993 Act, and their own expertise, to calculate the likely premium (price) to put in the formal application to the freeholder.
  • The solicitor advises on the best way to purchase the freehold, this would usually be via a company set up for the purpose; all participating leaseholders would then be members of the company.
  • It is often advisable to draw up a “Participation Agreement” between leaseholders which is a binding document setting out the terms of the purchase, such as the agreement for leaseholders to provide their contribution towards the premium and to pay towards the costs associated with the process.
  • The solicitor serves the formal application on the freeholder, the “Section 13 notice”, stating the premium proposed the extent of the property to be purchased and any other terms.
  • The freeholder has two months to come back and serve a counter-notice stating whether they accept that leaseholders have the right to buy the freehold, and if so, whether they agree the terms proposed, including the price. If the freeholder disputes the leaseholder’s right to buy the freehold the leaseholders will have to apply to the County Court for a declaration as to their entitlement.
  • If the freeholder’s counter-notice accepts that leaseholders have the right to buy the freehold but disputes the terms, usually the premium, the parties have a further two months to negotiate. If agreement cannot be reached within this period there is then a “window” of four months within which either party can apply to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to rule on the terms.
  • The parties can continue to negotiate during the four month “window”, even if one of them has applied to the Tribunal. If agreement cannot be reached a Tribunal hearing will go ahead.
  • The Tribunal will make a ruling after hearing evidence from both parties. This will normally be the valuation evidence form their surveyors, as most disagreements are on the premium.
  • Once terms have been agreed, or the Tribunal has made a ruling, the parties are required to enter into a contract within specified time limits .A party can apply to the County Court to force the other party to enter into the contract if these time limits are not met.


The participating leaseholders are required to pay the freeholder’s reasonable, legal and surveyor’s costs as well as their own costs. Each party pays their own costs of the Tribunal proceedings, if it gets that far.

The Tribunal also has jurisdiction to rule on the reasonableness of the landlord’s costs.

LEASE is governed by a board, appointed as individuals by the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.