At Highhouse Insurance we are often asked to quote for Buildings Insurance in respect of property that has been divided in to self-contained flats, either purpose built or converted property. One of biggest areas of confusion relating to this type of cover surrounds who is who is actually responsible for the insurance; is it the freeholder or is it the leaseholder. Generally speaking in most cases, the freeholder is responsible for the buildings insurance and will charge the leaseholders accordingly. In some cases it may be possible for us to provide cover for leaseholders and we are always willing to listen to situations where for whatever reason, the freeholder has not arranged insurance cover.
Many leaseholders chose to buy the freehold of their property to give them control over the building they own, this will then give them the right to make decisions and to manage the property as they feel fit.
If you are contemplating purchasing the freehold of the block of flats that you live in, it will be necessary to get a valuation from a local qualified surveyor before you enter into any negotiations. A surveyor will be able to complete a valuation according to the current legislation; will advise on purchase price and the offer that ought to be made to the freeholder in the Initial Notice and the freeholders response in the Counter Notice. He/She will also carry out negotiations on your behalf with the freeholder, give advice and provide evidence at a leasehold valuation tribunal as well as giving advice regarding repairs and maintenance of the property once the enfranchisement has been completed.
At the first meeting with the surveyor the valuation process should be discussed. According to Schedule 6 Part II of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 the price of the freehold should include the income received from the ground rents within the building, the increase in the sale value of the flats due to the freehold being obtained (this is called the reversion value), the marriage value (this is the increase in flat values minus ground rents and the reversion value), the value of other interests e.g. garages and commercial properties, and compensation for losses to the freeholder for the reduction in value of another property resulting from a forced sale (injurious affection).
Freehold property with a long lease is valued on an investment basis, meaning that the property has no other value except for the income from the rent and the reversionary value once the leases have run out. The freehold value is worked out according to the expected future income of the property.
The income received is easily worked out. The annual ground rent is multiplied by the number of flats in the block. This amount is then multiplied by the ‘years purchase’. The ‘years purchase’ may either be taken from a set of tables or the valuer may calculate this for himself/herself. It is done to ascertain what the investor would have to pay to get the same fixed income over the term of the lease. There are often discrepancies to be looked at as the leaseholder’s valuer and the landlord’s valuer will often come up with different amounts for the years purchase figure.
As the lease on a leasehold property gets shorter the value of that property decreases. If enfranchisement is achieved then the new owner will usually increase the time on the leases. The values of the flats within the building are, consequently, increased. The valuer will need to consider other properties in the vicinity to estimate how much the value will increase. Flat leases usually revert back to the landlord once the term of the lease has expired. However, it is most likely that the tenant will be able to remain in occupation as there is statutory protection to ensure the tenant still has somewhere to live.
The marriage value involves both parties and is worked out quite easily. The value of the property with renewed leases is the base figure and from this the current value of the properties are deducted. Then the ground rent and the reversionary value are also deducted leaving the ‘marriage value’. This amount is split equally between the two parties. Legislation states that if a participating leaseholder has an unexpired lease of in excess of 80 years then any marriage value will be irrelevant.
In cases where negotiations do not run smoothly it may be necessary to enter more formal arrangements to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion. The Leaseholders Valuation Tribunal is of help when trying to decide on matters like the sort of interest to be applied and the price to be paid.
There is a myriad amount of information relating to the value of freeholds available on the internet we believe if you are contemplating the purchase of your freehold, you should always seek professional advise.
Highhouse Insurance will be pleased to quote for buildings insurance for all types of blocks of flats whether owner occupied or rented to tenants.
We look forward to receiving your enquiry.