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									          Enfranchisement                                                                                     In association with




THE MArkET In                                 “All properties have been hit by the current
                                              market conditions, but I would say flats
MInuTES: lOCAl                                have been particularly affected due to
ESTATE AgEnTS                                 the large number of properties that were
                                              bought as buy-to-let; a market which is
“We have been affected slightly on the        now completely decimated. In our region
residential side. There has been a slight     I would estimate a 10-15% downturn, but
reduction in sales and people are certainly   I always maintain that if the price is right,
taking longer over their decision – much      flats will sell. We have a seven-unit block in
more so than a few years ago. We are also     St Albans that (with the market conditions
finding that a large number of flats that     in mind) have been discounted and we’ve
don’t attract a buyer first time round end    already sold three of them. People have
up with our lettings department. Over the     to be sensible, but the problem is a lot of
past couple of months they have seen a        people are in denial.”
50% rise in the number of properties they     Rod Allsop, Consultant, Allsop Estate
are looking after.”                           Agents, Hertfordshire
Andrew Kashimeri,Commercial and
Sales Manager, Capital Homes Estate           “The local market in Aylesbury has been
Agents & Valuers, North London                affected by the credit crunch as has the
                                                                                               “At the moment first-time buyers have
                                              national market. I would estimate a 65%
                                                                                               dried up, and that is affecting the flat
“We have seen a massive downtown in the       downturn in demand for property across
                                                                                               market because that is obviously the type
market; however here in Chelmsford the        the board. We deal with everything from
                                                                                               of property many are looking for. Add to
flat market is not necessarily as strong as   one-bedroom flats to five-bedroom
                                                                                               that an increasing number of landlords
somewhere like Colchester for example.        houses and every type of property is in
                                                                                               looking to sell and you have a situation
However we have found the flats we do         the same position. On a regional basis
                                                                                               where supply outweighs demand. In our
have on our books are taking longer           we have found that sellers are content
                                                                                               office I would estimate that viewings are
to sell and there is not doubt there is a     to leave their flats on the market for
                                                                                               down 50% compared to this time last year.
massive supply over demand imbalance.         long periods of time before considering
                                                                                               And although HIPS haven’t hindered
The figures are in the regions of 15          dropping the asking price. As a result of
                                                                                               things too drastically they haven’t helped
properties to every one buyer.”               this the lettings market remains strong,
                                                                                               the situation.”
Robert Chamberlain, Senior manager,           with two-bedroom flats in high demand.
                                                                                               Simon Fisher, Director, Absolute Estate
More Estate and Letting Agents, Essex         Neil Kurz, Partner, Neil Douglas Estate
                                                                                               Agents Ltd, Bedford
                                              Agents, Buckinghamshire




EnfrAnCHISEMEnT –                                                                                 Most residential leases enable
                                                                                               provisions to be made each year on
                                                                                               account of future expenditure for major

IT’S All In THE PlAnnIng                                                                       capital items such as major external
                                                                                               repairs, redecoration work, renewal of lifts
                                                                                               or boilers, etc. Where this is the case you
John Byers, Chartered Building Surveyor and director of langley                                should discuss with your managing agent,
                                                                                               making carefully considered provision for
Byers Bennett talks about the importance of making good plans                                  future expenditure.
for the ongoing repair and maintenance of your building.                                          This planned approach brings a number
                                                                                               of benefits. It spreads the cost of very




                S
                       ometimes the           privileges of ownership.                         expensive items over a number of service
                       life of a lessee          You may discharge many of the                 charge years, so assists the lessees in
                       can be relatively      responsibilities for the day-to-day              budgeting their personal expenditure. It
                       relaxed. You           management of the building to a managing         protects lessees at the time major work
                can afford to sit             agent – to whom you are entitled to look         is done from having to bear the full cost
                back and let your             for advice. However you should make sure         of very expensive works as it spreads
                landlord or managing          that serious consideration has been given        the cost over a long occupation period. It
                agent do the work.            to budgeting for items of major expense          means the costs of various major items
However upon acquiring your freehold          in the future, and that these are not being      can be planned and scheduled in such
responsibilities for the running of           overlooked in the normal bustle of day-to-       a way as to prevent a number of items
the building come along with the              day management.                                  falling within the same service charge

Issue 40 • News on the block                                                                                                            69
         Enfranchisement                                                                   www.newsontheblock.com



year. It creates a fund that can be drawn    items of major expenditure – particularly        remember work might not only include
on in the event of emergencies. It can put   building construction or engineering          periodic repair and redecoration of the
you in a position where you may be able      work. More typically a chartered building     exterior or to other common parts of the
to obtain better value from contractors      surveyor or engineer are employed to          building but may also include longer term
or suppliers because funding for projects    produce a budget report (often described      requirements such as the replacement roof
is readily available. It enables you (and    as a planned maintenance report).             finishes, new lifts or boilers. other items
future lessees) to understand “where they       In producing such a report the building    included might be work to mature trees,
stand” and what their future occupation      surveyor would inspect the building,          the repair or replacement of boundaries
costs for the building might be.             audit its condition and, based on their       and hard landscaping, and perhaps
                                             experience and expertise, provide advice      contingencies for compliance with future
budget report                                upon the likely cost of future work and the   legislation.
Sometimes a managing agent is able to        appropriate timing of such work.                 With some forethought coupled with
put together an approximate plan based          With this information you, or your         good professional advice this is one area
on their own experience. However these       managing agents can calculate the level       of service charge administration that need
often concentrate on items of day-to-day     of contributions required to the service      not be a worry.
maintenance as this is often the focus of    charge to accumulate the funds that              As Winston Churchill said “Let our
a managing agent’s duties, and they are      may be required, or at the very least, a      advance worrying become advanced
not always the best person to advise on      contribution to those funds.                  thinking and planning”. 



buyIng tHe freeHoLd
of your bLoCk
                Justin Bennett, director at enfranchisement                                participate in a collective enfranchisement,
                                                                                           as your status will change the moment you
                specialist surveying practice Langley byers bennett                        and your fellow tenants take control of the
                spoke to News on the Block’s editor, Jamie reid,                           freehold and grant yourselves long leases.
                                                                                           post enfranchisement you will be the
                on some aspects of buying your freehold that you                           landlord and any non-participating tenants
                may not have considered.                                                   will be coming to you for lease extensions.


Q     Collective enfranchisement sounds
      a rather complicated process. Is it?
                                             such a world exist there would be neither
                                             dispute nor lengthy delays. Commonhold        Q    And what can a landlord do to
                                                                                                make leaseholders pay more for

A    buying your freehold or collective
     enfranchisement of a block of flats
should be fairly straightforward. However,
                                             could and should be the answer. However,
                                             in this real world the various incarnations
                                             of Leasehold reform law exist.
                                                                                           the freehold?

                                                                                           A   the landlord can try to maximise
                                                                                               through various means, by the
in an ideal world, there would be no need                                                  creation of extra elements to the
for notices, counter-notices, nor both
sides employing surveyors and solicitors     Q    So what should people consider
                                                  when thinking about this process?
                                                                                           building such as the conversion of
                                                                                           redundant communal plant rooms and
when failing to agree premiums, nor
determinations by tribunals, nor the need
for Court orders where landlords cannot
                                             A   the reality is that in the real world
                                                 when selling a landlord tries to
                                             maximize, and when buying a tenant tries
                                                                                           ancillary lobbies into extra flats; the
                                                                                           construction of extra floors to buildings
                                                                                           or conversion of lofts; on a less grand
be found. In an ideal world – a world        to minimise. It is worth
where leases exist of course – buying your   bearing this in mind when
lease extension or freehold would not        deciding whether or not to
involve costly proceedings. there would
be a willing landlord/ lessor (seller) and
a willing tenant/ lessee (buyer). Should




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