The legislation derives from the Leasehold Reform Act 1967, which was the first piece of legislation to give leaseholders the right to enfranchise. The legislation was enacted under a Labour government and its stated aim was
“to enable tenants of houses held on long leases at low rents to acquire the freehold or an extended lease”.
The houses covered by this legislation were limited to those below a specific rateable value (in the days when residential property had a rateable value) and it did nothing to help owners of flats.
Since 1967 this legislation has been modified by over a dozen Acts of Parliament, a multitude of statutory instruments and several hundred landmark decisions established both in the law courts and the tribunals.
Today all houses, however valuable, will qualify providing only that
a) They meet the necessary definition of a house contained in section 2 of the Act and as reviewed by the Supreme Court in several landmark cases;
b) The original term of the lease exceeds 21 years; and
c) The claimant has owned the lease for at least two years and has not withdrawn an earlier claim within the last twelve months.
However, although the scope of qualification has been widened to include virtually all houses, there are still several different valuation bases that remain which are dependent upon historic rateable or rental values. It is essential to establish the correct valuation basis as these have a very significant effect on the enfranchisement price.