Providing advice on leasehold enfranchisement requires a particular set of skills to ensure the process is consistently undertaken in a manner which represents the interests of both leaseholders and landlords. The Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP) is a professional body focused on promoting best practice in the handling of leasehold arrangements, making sure their member practitioners adhere to a strict code of practice, thereby ensuring quality and integrity of service for clients.
What is meant by leasehold enfranchisement?
Leasehold enfranchisement refers to the legal processes required for the extension of a lease, freehold acquisition (including purchasing a share of a freehold through collective enfranchisement), and resolution of leasehold disputes.
Leaseholds and freeholds differ considerably; if you own a leasehold on a property, it means you have a lease from the freeholder (known as the landlord) for a limited time period. The duration of the leasehold will vary from case to case – typically from 90 – 120 years, but they can extend to hundreds of years, or in the case of some rural leases, across multiple generations.
When it comes to extending the lease on your property, it is vital to remember that when the time on the lease runs down to 80 years is remaining, the landlord is entitled to what is referred to as the ‘marriage value’ of the property – an additional amount payable when the lease is next negotiated which reflects the uplift in value of the property. Being liable for ‘marriage value’ has a detrimental impact on the value of the property. Hence you should seek to renew your lease well in advance of this point in time.
Freeholds avoid this complexity as there is no expiry on ownership of the land or property; this remains the owners in perpetuity,
Leasehold enfranchisement is a complex area of law. ALEP plays a vital role in ensuring its members who are undertaking leasehold enfranchisement work do so in a manner that is legally correct and represents clients’ interests.
The Vital Role of ALEP
ALEP acknowledges that leaseholders are often confused by the sheer volume of information available to them regarding their legal position. Material is provided by government bodies, barristers, managing agents, lawyers, surveyors, and valuers. As a leaseholder or potential leaseholder, ALEP can provide you with details of specialists who possess the required knowledge and provide sound levels of service to assist you through your leasehold process. In addition, they also act to provide recourse in the event of a dissatisfactory outcome involving one of their members. As such, they act to oversee the quality of service is maintained and assured.
The ALEP Code of Conduct is about ensuring the interests of the client during their leasehold enfranchisement process. In particular, ALEP members are expected to ensure:
- Clients receive clear and detailed written terms of engagement detailing how communication will occur, and the exact fees to be paid (and when).
- The service provided adheres to the latest legislation and information available
- Full records are kept including all transactions
- The organisaiton has professional negligence insurance cover
- Any conflicts of interest are disclosed
- Clients are always engaged and involved in key decisions to be made
- Members are open and honest, and courteous and professional to all parties
- Members know and act within limitations and are accountable for any recommended course of action
- Any complaints that may arise are handled in accordance with the firm’s formal procedure.
ALEP members can represent the interests of leaseholders and freeholders, and based on the latest developments in law, will explain your legal position and options available.
It can be difficult to know where to turn when legal advice is required in relation to leasehold enfranchisement matters. There is certainly no lack of information in existence but making sense of it can lead to confusion and ultimately costly errors. By seeking and engaging with an ALEP member, you can be assured that not only does the legal provider in question possess the experience required to achieve the outcome you desire, they will do so in a way that protects your interests while being open, honest, friendly, and professional.
Please note, this article does not constitute legal advice.
Hart Reade Solicitors are a full-service law firm with offices in offices in Eastbourne, Hailsham, Polegate and Meads. We hold a both a Lexcel and Conveyancing Quality Accreditation from the Law Society of England and Wales, as well as being an ALEP member. To make an appointment with one of our conveyancing solicitors, please phone our office on 01323 727 321.