It’s safe to say that 2016 has been one of the worst years to be a leaseholder in recent memory. With high court fees, rising fees, and ground rent scandals, there hasn’t been much to be optimistic about.
The idea to introduce court fees was initially proposed back in 2015 and suggested that application fees for the First Tier Tribunal should be introduced and must be paid by the applicant. To the detriment of the UK’s 4.1 million leasehold property owners, this proposal was implemented in the legal process in 2016.
For the foreseeable future, any applicant must now absorb - in its entirety - the new £100 fee for a court application in addition to a £200 charge to attend a hearing. At a glance, the new fees may appear fair. However, with applications predominantly made by leaseholders against false-hearted tenants or unreasonable freeholders, this extra financial burden will primarily effect flat owners simply wishing to exercise their legal rights.
The introduction of these fees will discourage leaseholders from applying to the court and will allow some of the more unscrupulous freeholders free to exploit leaseholders; particularly those who cannot afford the application fee.
The ‘Mundy’ Decision
In May of last year, the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) handed down its landmark decision on leasehold relativity (Sloane Stanley Estate v. Mundy, 2016). In one of the most significant rulings in the history of leasehold enfranchisement, the Upper Tribunal ruled against a new, scientific, and less partisan (ergo fairer) relativity graph proposed by Parthenia Valuation, which would have reduced the cost of lease extension for flat owners, in the event that their lease drops below 80 years.
‘Accepted’ relativity graphs have typically been funded and force