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Absent Landlord

The reference to an "absent landlord" describes the situation where the freeholder of the building has disappeared, without trace. This situation, although not common is equally not infrequent.

Despite the absence of the landlord, leaseholders are still able to exercise statutory rights to acquire a lease extension, purchase the freehold or claim Right to Manage.

In a conventional case where the whereabouts of the landlord is known, the leaseholder(s) are free to serve a Notice of Claim upon the landlord to acquire a lease extension or purchase the freehold. If terms cannot be agreed the leaseholder(s) can make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to determine the terms for either a lease extension or the premium for the freehold purchase.

In the case of an "absolute landlord," in the first place a valuation is required to determine whether the leaseholder(s) are comfortable to proceed, given the level of premium, which will need to be paid for the lease extension or the freehold.  Once it is established that the leaseholder(s) wish to proceed an application is made to the local County Court to secure a vesting order pursuant to section 50(1) of the 1993 Leasehold Reform, Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended). Having granted the vesting order, the Court has to refer the matter to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.  The Tribunal will then require a further expert witness report to be submitted by the Valuer.  Depending on the location of the property theTribunal might require an oral hearing.  For some time now the London LVT have dispensed with oral hearings although that is not the case with the Eastern & Southern Tribunals.

Whether the hearing is by "paper track" or "oral" the Tribunal will listen to the valuation arguments and will then publish its determination.  At this stage the matter is taken back to the Court and the Judge will authorise the signing of the new lease in the absence of the landlord.  The premium will be paid into the Court and will remain there, pending the reappearance of the landlord to claim the monies.

We have handled a number of absent cases and have attached the decisions of a handful below for potential clients to review.

Please do contact Mike Stapleton 01702 562072 to discuss any aspect of absent landlord cases.



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