There are roughly 4.5 million leasehold properties in the UK and at some point, their owners will have to go through enfranchisement - the process of either extending their lease or buying the freehold. In today’s property market, enfranchisement is seen by many as a necessity due to the value of a property depreciating as the time left on the lease reduces.
Unfortunately, the whole process can be daunting and confusing for leaseholders. Looking to ease this pain, Linz Darlington founded Homehold, a specialist project management and valuation company that aims to eradicate all stress from the leasehold extension process – including working for clients on a fixed fee.
Linz explains, ‘Normally people need to get a combination of specialists, including a solicitor and a valuer. Having to manage the process between these professionals can make people very uncomfortable. However, Homehold is a “one-stop-shop” – they complete the lease extension valuation in-house and manage the rest of the process.'
Homehold has two main objectives; To ensure that every leaseholder they support gets a fair deal on their lease extension. And, just as importantly; to make sure their customers are properly looked after throughout the enfranchisement process by proactively managing the lease extension and providing regular updates.
This element of transparency and customer service is a key pillar of the Homehold brand and something we have helped Linz and the team to reflect in their legal documents. Homehold initially approached Harper James to gain a commercial perspective on their statutory notices to check that, in addition to being valid, they were contractually sound. We have since reviewed all their commercial contracts. ‘Stephen Pearne has helped us strike a balance between communicating in plain English to our clients what we’re doing, by removing the legalese, but at the same time controlling our risk’.
Stephen commented, 'for Homehold, it was vitally important that their terms of business should reflect their core values. Understandably, Linz was concerned that pages of “legalese” would be hard for their clients to work through, which would slow the sales process and undermine their key message that working with them makes things easier. At Harper James, innovation and thinking differently are part of our DNA, so it was great to be able to produce terms of business that are easy to understand and protect Homehold.'
Like many entrepreneurs, Linz has several businesses under his belt and we started supporting Homehold in 2019 as an Extended Enterprise client – a way for owners to share the benefits of our Enterprise plan with their other businesses.
The subscription model has been a good fit for Homehold, allowing them to access experts in each area of business law while controlling legal costs. Linz added:
Harper James have been really good because essentially you have a lawyer who knows everything, you’re a firm with no blind spots.
‘Working with Harper James feel less transactional and more ongoing. For example, having Simon Smith, who understands our business and is able to quickly provide a second opinion on litigation, and does that drawing on a wide base of experience is super important.’
Homehold’s focus on improving the experience for private individuals when they need leasehold enfranchisement is just the start. Commenting on their future plans, Linz said: ‘We want to lead the way in the industry by reimagining the way services are provided to be more customer-centric. We hope to expand into doing more collective enfranchisement work and other related areas of property law and valuation.’