A business specialising in leasehold extensions has set up an alternative business structure to provide clients with a “one-stop shop” covering valuation, project management and legal advice.
Linz Darlington, managing director and founder of Homehold, said its “social aim” was to help clients “achieve extensions on fair terms and at a fair price”.
Mr Darlington, an entrepreneur, said he had set up previous businesses with a social purpose, such as one specialising in corporate social responsibility schemes for companies.
He said Homehold’s work was all done on fixed fees and its law firm, Leasehold Extension Solicitors, would be no different.
“Some leasehold extensions are easy, and we do very well on them, others are very challenging, and we do less well.
“It’s very good for our clients, who know there is going to be a fixed fee, but something that law firms have been very reluctant to do.”
Mr Darlington said he founded Homehold after his experience in extending a lease when he bought a maisonette in West London with his wife in 2016.
“We knew it was a short lease and it would be expensive to extend it, but we did not anticipate just how stressful and time-consuming lease extensions were.”
Unlike an ordinary flat or house purchase, where both sides want the chain of transactions to move, he said the leasehold enfranchisement legislation set “generous timelines” for the owners of freeholds.
“We want to take the stress out of a long and winding process. With a one-stop shop, clients are not passed around by professionals and do not have to be the project manager in the middle. We ensure that everything that needs to be done is done.”
Mr Darlington said Leasehold Extension Solicitors, a subsidiary of Homehold, was licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in October and opened for business earlier this month.
As far as he knew, it was the only specialist firm of lease extension solicitors working only for leaseholders.
Mr Darlington’s fellow director at the law firm is solicitor Leah Veasey, who has worked on lease extensions in law firms such as Birketts, Bolt Burdon and Brethertons. She is legal director and compliance officer for legal practice. Mr Darlington is compliance officer for finance and administration.
He said the law firm was already extremely busy, with the “vast majority” of work coming from Homehold, as well as a few clients who had found the website and made enquiries.
“I had been working with a small panel of law firms, but, coming from a non-legal background, I wanted to do things differently.”
Mr Darlington said there were some related niche areas where he would like to expand in the future, such as group purchases of freeholds, but there was “huge demand” for the existing service, with 25,000 lease extensions a year.
He added that Homehold had made submissions to parliamentary committees and the Law Commission on leaseholds and leasehold enfranchisement.
Ground rents for leaseholders who bought new-build flats and house were abolished this summer but promises to make it cheaper for people to extend existing leases had not been fulfilled.
“There must be changes in the law for existing leaseholders, otherwise we’re heading for a two-tier system.”