Obtaining freehold of 2 end of block maisonettes

Obtaining freehold of 2 end of block maisonettes

10:12 AM, 13th September 2022, About 2 years ago 5

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Hello all, Looking for some advice and guidance please.

I own the leaseholds of two maisonettes (1 up, 1 down) on one end of a block totaling six. There are two other blocks of the same together with some terraced houses that make up the estate. The estate is ex-council now owned & run by a local housing association. Of the remaining four maisonettes, two are occupied by social housing tenants and the other two are also leasehold owners.

Each maisonette has it’s own entrance with exclusive garden. The ground floor maisonettes are accessible from one side of the block, the first floor maisonettes are accessed from the other side.

I would be interested in acquiring the freehold on just the end two that I own (removing from the existing title & creating a new title?). Is this possible?

It would mean splitting the block vertically and in-effect make mine two end-of-terrace maisonettes. There is buildings insurance arranged by the local housing association which is paid for by a service charge – but I presume this would not be much of an issue, if at all.

The freehold title & plan outlines parts of the block and it appears some of the terraced houses on the estate have been removed to form separate new titles. I am happy to post this up if it aids the discussion.

I am happy to seek legal advise based on whether responses here are positive. So please, if there is anyone known to the forum who specialises in this area I’d be very grateful if anyone can pass some contact details on.

Kind regards,

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Tim Rogers

11:24 AM, 14th September 2022, About 2 years ago

Legal minds will be better placed, but from experience there are 2 immediate issues. First, will the freeholders agree to sell willingly? Second can you force them to sell?

The first will be answered by approaching them and asking, they will probably say an emphatic NO. The second is only possible if 50% of the current tenants of the whole freehold wish to buy. The process of forcing the sale can be long winded, ( 1-2 years) and will involve solicitors and surveyors, the latter will have a bun fight on your behalf over the valuation and are normally well worth their cost. I think, the buyers will have to cover the sellers costs, ( sorry it's been a while).

Once you have completed the purchase of the original freehold and made it's ownership a company you have set up, because mortgage companies don't like the lease hold tenant and the freeholder being one and the same, you can then consider separating off the section of interest, but why would you?
NOTE:- the company will probably have multiple directors from the purchase process.

If you still wish to go ahead and split the freehold, you will need further solicitor assistance. Be VERY careful as to how you structure things or you could end up with serious problems with either the mortgage company(s) or when you come to sell.

Bob Scratchit

15:23 PM, 15th September 2022, About 2 years ago

Hi Tim,
Firstly, thanks for your comments.
I understand your points and the scenario you outline where other leaseholders may wish to join with me collectively to obtain the freehold of our 'block'.
However, that isn't exactly what I am aiming to do. According to the information available at the Leasehold Advisory Service website, it seems that enfranchisement (or acquiring the freehold) may be possible as it could be argued that the 2 maisonettes together can reasonably be considered a 'house'. One does sit directly on top of the other..
The exact wording is as follows:- "The house must be a building which is reasonably considered a house, divided vertically from any adjoining house. It does not matter if the building has been divided into flats as long as you have the lease of the whole house." https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/houses-qualification-valuation/
Of course, that could stand to mean a single lease of the 'house', whether it is further divided or not, and not two separate leases as is my situation. A bit of a grey area perhaps? If you were thinking along similar lines I can see why you have commented on joining with the other leaseholders primarily, and then negotiating with them in the future to then split and separate my 2. My hope is that I could avoid all that! Although, that could be a last resort if things don't work out.
The current freehold plan, in the schedule of leases section, lists my 2 maisonettes and the outlined areas covered by the 2 leases (numbered on the plan). Both leases share the same outlined area of the footprint of the building. Additionally, the ground floor maisonette has it's own exclusive outlined area for it's front garden and the first floor maisonette has a similar outlined area for it's front garden. Of the 3 numbered outlined areas, all 3 are used exclusively by the 2 maisonettes only. There are no communal areas or areas shared with adjoining properties.
I would add that of the terraced houses (not maisonettes) that were a part of the same original freehold title, several have been sold off and now exist as separate freehold titles. Granted, they are houses (single dwellings) but in essence this is no different to what I am trying to achieve. Those terraced houses also share the roof roofing and adjacent/lateral support from the surrounding houses.
In terms of mortgages, both maisonettes are currently unencumbered. However, I do note that if not set-up correctly there could be issues around this in the future. My hope is to eventually pass them on as part of my estate but if they were to be sold, it would most probably be done by granting leases and keeping the freehold.
I agree this could be a complex case and so I am happy to seek some paid-for advice if there are members or friends of the forum here that can help. I'm also happy to share plans, etc. privately with anyone who wishes to take a look.
Kind thanks and regards

Bob Scratchit

17:22 PM, 15th September 2022, About 2 years ago

Hi again,

In my earlier comment I referred to the Lease Advisory Service website. The text I copied was referring to houses.

However, reading through the enfranchisement information specifically for flats I found this under the qualifying criteria for the building (or in my case, part-of):-

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.

This seems to describe my scenario exactly. The 2 maisonettes could constitute a vertical division of the building and both already have their own separate services provided and their own entrances.

I'm really hoping that this could work in my case. Hopefully someone here could provide some legal interpretation or specialist solicitor contact details.

Many thanks,

Tim Rogers

18:10 PM, 16th September 2022, About 2 years ago

I feel you need to seek legal advice from someone who is familiar with this specific area.


10:50 AM, 19th September 2022, About 2 years ago

Don't see why it is not possible if the foot print is distinct but why would you want to sell the flats and not the freehold? You are left with the responsibility for the building and management for no significant return

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