The freeholder is likely to be represented by expert professionals. In particular, those representing the large Estates in central London are likely to be very experienced and knowledgeable about the properties they handle, and they will be doing their utmost to achieve the best possible compensation for the freeholder. So it really pays to have experts on your side.
We’ll work with you and your solicitor to provide you with dedicated, specialist expertise. We can also recommend trusted, experienced barristers to your solicitor, with the advocacy skills to put your case before a tribunal if necessary.
If you submit a formal Initial Notice, the freeholder normally has two months to respond with a formal Counter-Notice. If your initial approach is informal, the freeholder should respond with a formal offer letter. Either way, once the freeholder has responded, we’ll negotiate on your behalf with the freeholder’s valuer(s).
Most of our clients achieve a satisfactory agreement on the premium or price through negotiation; it is rare that agreement cannot be reached without recourse to the First-tier Tribunal (“FtT”, formerly the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal). Our aim is to settle on the best possible deal for you, the leaseholder; in our work for 700 clients we have only had to attend the FtT 26 times, and the Upper Tribunal (“UT”, formerly the Lands Tribunal) – five times.
In any case, two months after the counter-notice from the freeholder, either party can apply to the FtT for a determination. (With flats, you must apply within six months or you will lose your claim as a “deemed withdrawal”.)
If the FtT is necessary, we’ll prepare and answer evidence as expert witness. The decision of an FtT can be appealed to the UT; again we would act as expert witness.
A note on costs at Tribunals
Each party is responsible for the costs of taking their own side of the case to either the FtT or UT. However, at the Tribunal’s discretion, costs may be awarded against a party as a result of unreasonable or negligent conduct, or fees charged for non-compliance with rules and timetables. Note that Tribunals are now very strict on meeting deadlines, such as submitting evidence two weeks in advance (and remember that witnesses including your valuer need time to prepare before that deadline!)
Leasehold Reform cases are currently exempt from other FtT fees, which are charged for other types of case, but the Government is currently consulting on legislation that would, if passed, extend fee-payment to leasehold extension and enfranchisement cases.