A leading South East law firm has won a breakthrough case by helping a group of holiday home leaseholders purchase the freehold of their properties.
They did so by proving that the properties could be defined as houses, by law, in the case known as Mortimer & Others v Eco Chic Limited.
Helen Bell, a property litigation solicitor at Mayo Wynne Baxter, was asked to represent several people who wanted to purchase the freehold on their buildings on Lower Mill Estate, a leisure and holiday site in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
However, the freeholder challenged these requests, saying that the properties did not qualify as houses under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. As a result, the case went to trial.
“Purchasing the freehold is normally a straightforward process but we were up against tough opposition from the freeholder,” Bell said.
“In this case, we had no previous court decision to guide us – it was the first time that a court had directly addressed this issue. We had to satisfy the court that the holiday homes did in fact meet the criteria to be classed as houses under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 - legislation which allowed people to buy the freehold for the first time.”
She added: “While not all holiday homes will meet the criteria in the Act, the court ruled that these buildings could be defined as houses. In the past, others may have not taken on their landlords for fear of losing. That’s why this is a really exciting ruling – it’s the first of its kind and could impact future cases.”