Thompson Smith and Puxon Dispute Resolution solicitor, Judith Winward, works closely with members of our Residential Property team and specialises in statutory lease extensions, with experience of acting for both landlords and leaseholders.

A leasehold flat is often described as a wasting asset.  This is because although it will have been a substantial and valuable asset when purchased, as time goes by the number of years remaining on the lease decreases and so does the value and saleability of the flat, compared with similar properties with longer leases. It is important, therefore, to keep a close eye on the length of term remaining on the lease and take steps to make sure the value of the asset does not waste away.

Leases on flats can be extended either by agreement with the landlord – in which case the length of the new term and the premium and ground rent to be paid are a matter for negotiation between landlord and leaseholder – or as of right by following the statutory procedure set out in the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (the Act).

It must also be the desire of every leasehold flat owner to know that the communal areas of the block will be kept clean and well maintained; that any gardens will be kept trim or otherwise managed to enhance the enjoyment of their use; that lifts will be maintained and will keep working; that windows and external doors will be regularly painted and repaired or replaced; and that the structure of the building will be kept sound.

Unfortunately for many the reality falls far short of the desire and leaseholder complaints about lack of maintenance and high service charges for poor service are not at all uncommon.

A long leaseholder – that is, one who owns a lease of 21 years or more – has two important weapons in the armoury which can be used in cases where the freeholder landlord is unwilling or unable to maintain the block properly. These are called “Right to Manage” and “Collective Enfranchisement”.

Whether you are a freeholder who would like to know more about this subject generally, a landlord who has received a notice of claim from a leaseholder and would like specific advice, or a leaseholder looking to extend your lease, Judith will be pleased to help you.  She is experienced in acting for both landlords and leaseholders and can be contacted on 01206 217039 or judith.winward@tsplegal.com

This information relates to leasehold flats. If you own a house on a long lease and cannot afford to buy the freehold you may be entitled to extend the lease by 50 years under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. There is no premium to be paid to the landlord but your rent is likely to increase.