Owners of flats where the lease is winding down towards 80 years should act fast to purchase the freehold and preserve the value of their home, says a firm of chartered surveyors.
Evelyn Levisohn, spokeswoman for myleasehold, says: "When money is tight, it can be difficult to get tenants in a block of flats organised and agreeable to paying out what can be several thousand pounds to acquire their freehold, as permitted under the legislation of 2002.
"But lenders are becoming increasingly reluctant to lend on short leases, so some sort of action is really a no brainer - either a purchase of the freehold or extension of the leasehold which will make eventual purchase of the freehold significantly cheaper."
The problem, for those tenants who put their heads in the sand, is that once a lease has less than 80 years to run, an extra element of compensation becomes payable to the freeholder which is called 'marriage value'.
If you can't agree to buy the freehold with your neighbours, go it alone and extend your lease. In fact, most transactions in this sector end up as lease extensions.
Levisohn adds: "Whatever the length of your lease, you should still look into extending it or buying your freehold now, as it will most likely only cost more in the future."
Factors influencing the negotiations include the value of the flat, the length of the lease, level of ground rent, whether garages and garden areas are included, and whether there is scope to develop the property further.
The basic service from myleasehold costs £99 and tells an owner how much their lease extension would be worth, although they have a free calculator available on its website and owners can use a freephone number for a free 10-minute consultation.
For £365 plus VAT, the firm will review the lease and give advice about the offer price which leaseholders should make for the freehold, the likely offer from the landlord and the likely selling price eventually agreed.
For more info go to www.myleasehold.co.uk The company is a member of Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (www.alep.org.uk), a not-for-profit association bringing together solicitors, surveyors, enfranchisement intermediaries and managing agents in the residential leasehold sector. ALEP vets members to ensure they have significant expertise in leasehold enfranchisement.