The Leasehold Reform Act 1967 gives qualifying leaseholders the right to make a claim to buy the freehold. You can offer the freehold to the leaseholders without a formal notice of claim. There are several procedural requirements the house, leaseholder and lease need to satisfy before then can claim for the freehold.
The house must be any building reasonably considered to be a house. The building could be divided into flats with multiple tenants or one building with only one tenant, it does not matter so long as you hold the freehold for the entire property.
A building that is also used for commercial purposes can also qualify as a house so long as less than 50% of the property is used for non-residential purposes.
The leaseholder making a claim must be the current leaseholder of the property and must have been for the last 2 years. If you have multiple leaseholders e.g.flats then there must be a certain number of leaseholders who consent to the action.
The lease must be a long lease, for at least 21 years with the right to renewal.
Can you (the freeholder) refuse
You cannot refuse to sell your freehold. If you do not agree to the purchase the leaseholder can continue with the process call ‘enfranchisement’ which will enable them to purchase your freehold without your consent.
Do I (the freeholder) need legal advice?
A property solicitor can help you through the process. They can help you drafting your response to your tenants and negotiating a price. A solicitor can ensure that your position and interests are protected and that you are payed a fair price and try to avoid any price negotiations ending in the expensive property tribunal.