Absent Landlord Lease Extension

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Ashley Connell

Edited by Ashley Connell

Leasehold Enfranchisement Solicitor at Hetts

Navigating Lease Extensions with an Absent Landlord

Lease extensions can be complicated, particularly when the freeholder or landlord is untraceable, missing or absent. Under Section 50 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, specific procedures are set out to assist tenants in these situations. This guide aims to clarify these procedures, ensuring your rights as a leaseholder are protected and understood.

Part 1: Court Procedures for Vesting Orders

1. Vesting Order by Court

In cases where the landlord is missing and a lease extension is sought, the court can issue a vesting order upon the tenant's application.

2. Dispensation of Notice

Should the tenant be unable to notify the landlord of their claim due to the landlord's absence, the court may dispense with the requirement to serve such notice.

3. Court Order Conditions

The court must be satisfied that the tenant has the right to acquire a new lease and is not prohibited from issuing a valid notice under section 42 of the Act.

4. Tracing the Landlord

The court may instruct the tenant to take additional steps, such as advertising, to locate the landlord. If the landlord is found before the lease execution, the process is adjusted accordingly. Such steps may include some of the following:

(a) Land Registry Search: Start with a search of the Land Registry to find any recorded details of the freeholder. This may provide a last known address or contact information.

(b) Local Enquiries: Make inquiries with neighboring properties or local businesses. Sometimes, long-term residents or local business owners might have information about the whereabouts of the freeholder.

(c) Contact Previous Solicitors or Agents: If the freeholder had previously used solicitors or managing agents for property-related matters, contact these professionals as they might have current contact details or leads.

(d) Electoral Roll Search: Look through the electoral roll for any addresses associated with the freeholder's name. This might help locate their current residence.

(e) Private Investigation Services: Consider hiring a private investigator. They have access to more extensive databases and resources to track down individuals.

(f) Social Media and Online Searches: Conduct online searches, including social media platforms, as these can sometimes yield clues about a person’s whereabouts or contact details.

(g) Local Authority Enquiries: Contact the local council for any forwarding addresses they might have, especially if the freeholder previously lived at the property.

(h) Advertise in Local or National Newspapers: Placing an advertisement in a local or national newspaper is often a legal requirement. The ad should state your intention to apply for a lease extension and request the freeholder to make contact.

(i) Check with Professional Bodies: If the freeholder is known to be a professional (like a solicitor or doctor), inquiries with relevant professional bodies might be useful.

(j) Neighboring Land Registry Searches: If the freeholder owns adjacent properties, conducting searches on these properties might reveal updated information.

It's essential to keep records of all these efforts, including dates, methods, and responses (or lack thereof). This documentation will be critical in court to demonstrate that you've taken all reasonable steps to locate the missing freeholder. Remember, the definition of 'reasonable efforts' can vary, and it's advisable to seek legal guidance to ensure that your search is thorough and complies with legal requirements.

Part 2: Tribunal Application to Determine Premium

When extending a lease and the landlord is absent, the court will grant an order to enable the First Tier Tribunal to determine the premium in a fair manner.

Application to the Tribunal

The leaseholder must file an application with all relevant details of the lease and any prior communications regarding the premium.

Valuation Evidence

Leaseholders should provide a valuation report from a professional valuer.

Hearing and Representation

Leaseholders will need to represent their case at a Tribunal hearing in the absence of the landlord. Evidence will be presented to a tribunal judge from both the leaseholder and an independant surveyor.

Tribunal's Decision

The Tribunal's decision on the premium is based on evidence and is binding, though subject to appeal under certain conditions.

Finalising the Lease Extension

Once the premium is determined, the lease extension can be finalized.

Costs and Recovery

Deducting Costs from the Premium

In some cases, costs awarded by the court may be deducted from the premium, potentially reducing the leaseholder’s financial burden.

Court's Discretion and Recovery of Costs

The court has the discretion to decide on the deduction of costs from the premium. This is contingent on the specifics of the case.

Management of Funds and Legal Advice

Funds are sometimes held in a court or tribunal account, and legal advice is crucial to navigate this process.

For an example where court costs have been claimed by a leaseholder, refer to this Tribunal Decision (see paragraph 16).


Navigating the process of lease extension in the absence of a landlord requires a detailed understanding of legal procedures and rights. Seeking professional legal advice is strongly recommended to ensure a smooth and legally compliant process.