Obtaining a freehold for lessees with an absentee Landlord

Paul’s clients (the Claimants) were the only two lessees of flats under 125-year leases. The Defendants were the landlords, who had last been in contact with the lessees in 1998 and could not be located.

The Claimants had had to deal with the repairs to and maintenance and insurance of the property for the last twenty years. They now wanted to acquire the freehold of the property so they could properly manage and maintain the premises.

The case involved persuading the court that the steps taken to trace the landlords were adequate and sufficient and that the Claimants’ surveyor’s valuation could be relied upon when assessing the price to be paid to buy out the Defendants’ interest in their property.

The court granted an order under section 26 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 vesting the Defendants’ freehold in the solicitors for the Claimants and approving the sale of the freehold to the lessees at a price determined by a surveyor appointed by the Claimants (£10,000) with the costs of the proceedings (£5,000) to be deducted from the sum due to the Defendants.