My tenants have served a Notice Informing that they wish to Purchase the Freehold from me. Is there Any Way I can stop this?

by The Chartered Surveyor

Question

I recently received a notice from my tenants and it appears that the majority wish to join together and purchase the freehold from me. I would personally prefer not to do this as I see this as a long term investment. Can I simply refuse their offer?

Answer

Under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 the lessees/tenants of your block do have the right to compel you to sell them the freehold subject to provisions and parameters. The first thing I would recommend is to pass on a copy of the notice to your solicitor and have him review it thoroughly.

There are certain technicalities to serving a notice and failing to follow just one of them can invalidate it. One of the most common discrepancies is that the notice is not signed by the registered lessee but third party such as a managing agent or relative. Also, if a company is the named owner on a lease, the director’s signature will need to be witnessed by their secretary or suitable person.  The Act also states that the date for which the counter-notice must be served should be for a period of no less than 2 months and critically that copies of the notice should be served on any third party to the lease.

Ultimately these area issues that an experienced solicitor should be fully aware of and the chances are that your notice was drafted by such a person and is therefore perfectly valid. If this turns out to be the case I would concede the fact that you will be forced to sell the freehold and instruct a leasehold surveyor to produce his own valuation to include in the counter-notice. The Act does serve the purpose of ensuring a reasonable premium is paid to you so with the correct professional help and advice you should at least be compensated with an appropriate sum.