We have a leasehold property which is a house above an under croft (it is a tunnel and an area for parking).
There are four houses (two either side of the leasehold properties) three of which are freehold and one a tenancy. The houses and flat all have access through the tunnel to parking at the rear.
We and the owners really want them to take over management or buy the freehold but are unsure if this can be done under the Leasehold Reform Act (RTM or enfranchisement). If not how else can it be done.
First and foremost, it is important to identify which dwellings are houses and which are flats. This is important as the law relating to houses is very different to the law relating to flats.
It sounds as though the majority of the dwellings here are houses, though it is important to bear in mind that a dwelling which lies above or below some other part of the building might be considered a flat. You may need to take specialist advice on this point.
Once we know which are houses and which are flats, we can separate out the respective rights available to each. Freehold houses have very few rights to change the management of their estate and cannot participate in right to manage claims or claims to buy the freehold of an estate.
Leasehold houses may be subject to individual claims for their freehold under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967, but may not be part of right to manage claims or collective freehold purchases. Leasehold flats, subject to qualifying criteria, may participate in right to manage claims and claims to buy the freehold, known as collective enfranchisement under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. Unfortunately it would seem that there is, at most, a single flat in this arrangement of dwellings. Right to manage and collective enfranchisement claims require two or more flats in a building.
You might be able to negotiate with the manager of the estate to take over the management yourselves. There might also be some protection offered if the manager is working under an estate management scheme created by a tribunal, whereby Section 159 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 allows residents under an estate management scheme to challenge the reasonableness of their estate charges.
Christopher Last, Solicitor at Dean Wilson LLP