Huge Rise In Leaseholders Researching Enfranchisement Rights

Lockdown has prompted more people to review their leasehold contracts with leaseholders increasingly researching their enfranchisement options.

The Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP), has reported a significant rise in homeowners reviewing their leasehold extension opportunities and rights.

ALEP has claimed its website has experienced a ‘major spike’ in activity since the virus took hold at the beginning of March.

Overall, activity has grown by around a quarter, with people using their free time to research issues affecting their lives.

Clare Grove, ALEP’s Marketing Manager, said:

“We have seen a consistent increase in web visitors since the lockdown started, with almost 25% more traffic than we would usually see. Extending your lease is one of those tasks that can seem a bit daunting and is often put to the bottom of the pile, but it seems as though the enforced lockdown has given leaseholders the time they need to address the issue.

“As a lease is a depreciating asset, it is so important to act in a timely manner and to use reliable, professional practitioners. With everything else going on with Coronavirus, if people find themselves with time on their hands now would be a perfect time to start the process, and ALEP is here to help.”

ALEP’s blog series has highlighted a number of key changes to the enfranchisement process, because of Covid-19, which leaseholders should consider. These include new procedure rules facilitating the hearing of First-tier tribunal claims and guidance on fees to the Tribunal.

ALEP are advising leaseholders:

  • “At the moment, para 4 of the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Fees Order 2013 requires fees for any application to the First-tier Tribunal to paid at the same time as the application. Failure to pay the fee at the same time arguably invalidates the application. The article anticipated amendments to para 4, which will permit application fees to be paid up to 28 days after an application is made to reflect guidance already publicised by the Tribunal itself. However, as of 16 April 2020, the appropriate amendment to the Fees Order does not yet appear to have received ministerial approval. For the time being, the only safe approach is for applications under LRHUDA 1993 s.24 and s.48 or LRA 1967 s.21 to be made by post to the Tribunal accompanied by a cheque for the appropriate fee. Once para 4 is amended, applications will be sufficient if made by email, with the fee posted to the Tribunal to arrive within 28 days.
  • “Since the article was written, new procedural rules have been adopted which facilitate the hearing of First-tier Tribunal claims by audio or video proceedings: see Rule 9 of the Tribunal Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Rules 2020.
  • “There is some indication the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) may be prepared to list remote hearings of applications in the near future, where appropriate.
  • “The general stay on proceedings until 29 May 2020 mentioned in the article only applies to applications issued in the London Region. Arrangements made by other regional offices of the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) and the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal in Wales may well differ.”

 

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