Anna Bailey, Co-Founder and CEO of The Leasehold Group of Companies (Leasehold Solutions, Leasehold Valuers and Leasehold Law) and Director of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP)
What does your job involve on a daily basis?
There’s no such thing as a typical day, which is both a blessing and a curse I suppose! As CEO of the Leasehold Group of Companies and a Director of ALEP, my role is very wide-ranging, covering strategic planning, human resources, finance, compliance, marketing and events and of course many, many meetings!
How did you get involved in the leasehold sector?
I’ve been intimately involved with the leasehold sector since 2002, when my brother Alex Greenslade and I set up Leasehold Solutions. In the late 1990s, Alex was the owner of a leasehold flat with a relatively short lease. His landlord offered an extension, but with unfavourable terms. Not wanting to be bound to an unsatisfactory lease, Alex instead managed the freehold acquisition of the building for himself and his neighbours.
Noticing a gap in the market, Alex and I set up Leasehold Solutions, a leasehold enfranchisement project management company. In 2007 we launched ALEP, which has worked for over a decade to bring together organisations working within the leasehold enfranchisement sector and raise standards collectively. Leasehold Solutions has grown to become the market leader in its field, and now forms part of The Leasehold Group of Companies, alongside Leasehold Valuers (Est. 2013) and Leasehold Law (Est. 2014).
What makes the Leasehold Group of Companies unique in the marketplace?
We are unique as the group works solely on behalf of leaseholders, managing the entire – often complicated – process for them. Because we do not represent freeholders, our clients can be safe in the knowledge that there is absolutely no conflict of interest. Our project managers, valuers, solicitors and paralegals work only in the enfranchisement sector so it’s also fair to say that we know the leasehold system inside out. As one of the first companies of its kind in the sector, we are best placed to enable leaseholders to extend their leases or purchase their freeholds.
What inspired you to set up ALEP?
In the early days of Leasehold Solutions, my brother and I found that we were routinely dealing with what he called at the time ‘dabblers’ – people who had little or no understanding of the complexities of the leasehold system but who, nonetheless, routinely acted for clients in these complex transactions.
ALEP was established to bring together firms working within the leasehold enfranchisement sector under one, all-encompassing membership organisation. One of ALEP’s key aims has been to work with member firms within this sector to raise and maintain standards and promote best practice. I am very proud that today, ALEP has nearly 250 respected member companies and individual barristers operating in the enfranchisement sector who regularly come together to network, compare notes and agree best practice.
Why is ALEP important to the leasehold sector?
All ALEP members undergo a thorough vetting process before being admitted to the Association. ALEP membership therefore acts as a badge of assurance so that leaseholders and freeholders alike can be confident that they are employing professionals with the right level of expertise to help them navigate the complexities of the residential leasehold sector.
What would you say is key to being successful in the leasehold sector?
I think it is important to understand that in most cases you are talking to a client about their most precious asset – their home. It is therefore important to be empathetic and really understand their individual situation. It is also important to be an effective communicator; as a Chartered Marketer, I enjoy working with my team in devising and implementing ways of communicating complex matters in a simple fashion. One recent such example was the creation of a website – www.S5solutions.co.uk – which uses a series of explainer videos to highlight why leaseholders should take advantage of the rare opportunity that receiving a Section 5 Notice presents.
What do you enjoy most about your role, and why?
Having worked on behalf of leaseholders for nearly two decades, it is very encouraging to see that the government is finally looking into abuses in the leasehold system and may even be prepared to act to help those affected. Through ALEP’s work, our members have been vocal throughout various government consultations, proposing ways to improve the leasehold system.
I enjoy enabling leaseholders to extend their leases or purchase the freeholds and particularly love it when we have achieved a great result for a client or group of clients, particularly against a notoriously difficult freeholder.
What do you find most challenging about your role, and why?
Unfortunately, both the legal and property professions remain very male-dominated and that can present some challenges. I’m no shrinking violet so I’m able to hold my own – and have always been able to – but enfranchisement can be a rather adversarial environment; this can become rather tiresome and I think that might put some very talented people off entering the profession, both men and women. It’s great to see the work that Doyenne is doing to provide a support network to women working in the enfranchisement sector.
What inspires you in the industry, and why?
I’m very privileged to work with many passionate and determined colleagues, who care deeply about their clients and work tirelessly on their behalf. It’s also great to see increasing numbers of respected female barristers being recognised for their considerable achievements in the enfranchisement sector.