Head leaseholder wants to muscle in!

Head leaseholder wants to muscle in!

16:21 PM, 8th August 2022, About 2 years ago 17

Text Size

Hello everyone, My wife and I own a leasehold flat in a block of six. A head leaseholder is named on the lease but the freeholder is unknown.

We want to extend the lease, so made every attempt to identify the freeholder without success. We appointed a search agency to find the freeholder, and we placed an advert in the London Gazette. We appointed a RICS surveyor to value the property and calculate the Premium, a proportion of which they adjudicated to the head leaseholder.

We also appointed a solicitor to draw up a new lease. We then applied to the County Court for a Vesting Order, which was granted.

We subsequently applied to the First Tier Tribunal to determine the value of the Premium. In the application, we stated the name of the head leaseholder, who, up until this time, had only communicated with us to say that they did not know who the freeholder was. The head leaseholder is not the competent landlord as they have insufficient time left on their lease to grant the extension.

However, on receiving notification of our application from the tribunal, they contacted us to say, erroneously, that they were not aware of our intention (our exhibits to the County Court included several emails between us which demonstrate this not to be true) and that they wanted to negotiate the premium in order to save costs. They also said that we would have to meet their costs for going to the Tribunal.

My initial reply was that, yes, we are open to negotiations but would they tell me on what authority they based their right to do so.

I referred them to the case of Kateb v. Howard de Walden Estates Limited and Accordway Limited (2016 EWCA 1176) which confirmed that, as long as they act in good faith, the freeholder conducts the lease extension claim on behalf of the other intermediate landlords. In effect, the freeholder, I suppose, is now the County Court.

The head leaseholder can make an application to the County Court if they have no confidence in the competent landlord before the premium and the terms are agreed.

As regards the costs, the lease advisory service states that the leaseholder is not responsible for the freeholder’s costs at the tribunal.

We have found that this is an area unfamiliar to many solicitors and so we would be interested to hear opinions on whether the case I quote would apply and whether we would be responsible for the head leaseholder’s costs.

Thank you,


Share This Article


Andrew Wilcock

22:04 PM, 10th January 2023, About A year ago

Hello. My wife and I have EXACTLY the same scenario developing. We have just had a vesting order granted and referral to the FtT for determination. BUT, 24 hrs before the court hearing, the head-lessee has 'implied' the original developer ( who did not respond to section 41 Notice or subsequent advertisements in London Gazette) MAY actually still be the Freeholder. The District Judge thankfully took no notice and issued the vesting order. It remains to be seen, if, like yourself, the head-lessee intervenes at the FtT. As an aside, the proposed premium ( by our valuer) is only £1900 , so it may be unlikely that the Freeholder will bother with coming forward. The problem, for us, is that we got our application in just before the 80 year threshold. That date has now passed. If the matter went back to the Court, a revised application date would attract marriage value! I am hopeful that the original developer and head-lessee are therefore sidelined and we get a prompt FtT decision!

Robert Huntly

12:31 PM, 12th January 2023, About A year ago

In our case, the date of our application to the Court for the Vesting order is understood to be the date on which we served the request for a lease extension on the freeholder. Hence no marriage value. This is in accordance with the Act. Is your case not the same?
The premium for our extension will probably be under £2000, like yours. I wonder which part of the country you are in. We are in Scarborough.

Freda Blogs

12:42 PM, 12th January 2023, About A year ago

It is my understanding that the date of the S42 Notice is the relevant date (and valuation date), assuming it is validly served.

Andrew Wilcock

15:06 PM, 12th January 2023, About A year ago

Yes. I think, even if ours gets 'interupted' at the FtT by the headlessee suddenly 'finding' the freeholder ...and it being referred back to court for directions ..the date of application for the Vesting Order will stand as the date of premium valuation ie. the date on which a section 42 might otherwise have been served. In our case we could not serve a section 42, you have to have a name for the 'competent landlord' to serve one. Of course, you can serve a section 42 on the headlessee...BUT...you still have to name the 'comoetent landlord on the notice. Hence, our application for a Vesting Order, with no knowledge of the identity of the competent landlord/freeholder, was made pursuant to section 50(1) not section 50(2). Hope that makes sense. To clarify, we made extensive searches snd enqiuiries. Section 41 Notice and two separate letters to original freeholder/developer at their registered office; Land Registry search of title ( not registered)
; neighbour leaseholder enquiries, 14 day public notice in London Gazette for Missing Landlord/Freeholder and 14 day notice in our local Lancashire rag. All to no avail. Then, on day of court hearing, head-lessee intimates that original developer is still the freeholder. District Judge took no notice. Freeholder had been given opportunity to come forward, not shown, and he gave the Vesting Order.
We are in Lancaster...its a well known national housebuilder and a notorious ground rent trawling head-lessee with links, I believe, to British VirginI slands...I think you'll know the one!
Good luck with yours...strange that for so little premium..you freeholder deems it worth the legal expense involved in first registration etc.

Andrew Wilcock

15:26 PM, 12th January 2023, About A year ago

Sorry, I meant 'your' freeholder. The one who has suddenly decided that they are the freeholder after all! I can't see why it is wortwhile such 'missing' freeholders coming forward. Why not, if the premium is going to be fairly modest, let the applicant and FtT do all the work, set the premium, applicant pay cheque into court and then freeholder come forward and collect payout! I could understand it if we were talking a Mayfair flat with a 25 year term remaining and a huge marriage value...but not some poky flat in the North-West with 80 years to run!

Andrew Wilcock

16:03 PM, 5th March 2023, About A year ago

Update for Robert. Success for our vesting order at the County Court. The District Judge sent the claim to the FtT for determination of the premium. For reasons unknown, the FtT simply returned it to the County Court asking them to deal with it! The District Judge immediately obliged and granted a new lease, at our valuer's proposed premium of £1950 ...LESS our costs for litigant-in-person work, disbursements, searches and advertising to find the missing competent landlord ( £1700 claimed under s.51 Senior Courts Act 1981) ...so only £250 paid into court. Result. The head leaseholder kept trying to butt in with letters to court but the District Judge would have none of it. They will now simply get notice of the new ( extended) lease in due course, when the Land Registry application is complete. Hope your lease extension also gets resolved.


8:35 AM, 6th March 2023, About A year ago

Could you provide a link or copy of the judgment?

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now