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A Brief History

In 1976 The Church Commissioners for England owned a substantial number of buildings in the Belsize Park area, which they were proposing to sell en bloc to a commercial property company; this portfolio of properties was known at the time as “The Hampstead Estate”. The estate comprised four purpose-built blocks and 52 houses (converted into flats), and numbering in excess of 300 individual demises. All flats on the Estate were, at the time, rented by the Church Commissioners to the individuals then living in them as “Protected Tenants”. The tenants, understandably, were unhappy at the prospect of the potential change of freeholder from the Church Commissioners to a commercial property company and resolved, if possible, to take control of the situation themselves. In the event they pooled their resources and on 29 September 1976 purchased the freeholds of the entire “Hampstead Estate”.  Although not all the tenants had been able to raise the necessary capital to participate, the 80% who could were sufficient to enable the purchase.

Nugentways Limited was incorporated on 21st April 1976 for the purpose of taking the transfer of the freehold properties into that company’s name.  Belsize United Tenants’ Association Limited (now named BUTA Limited) was incorporated on the 12th May 1976 and Nugentways Limited became its wholly owned subsidiary. It was resolved by the participants that each and every flat on the Estate, whether or not its tenants had contributed to the acquisition of the freeholds, was to be allocated a single share in Belsize United Tenants Association Limited.

On the 29th September 1976 all the tenants who had contributed capital to the acquisition of the freeholds were granted leases of their individual flats for a term of 99 years from that date.  At the time of drafting the original 99 year lease it was decided, most unusually, that certain costs traditionally charged to individual buildings or flats, would be charged as “Estate Costs” across the entire Estate and that all re-chargeable costs would be calculated on a per square foot basis.

The estate is managed by BUTA Limited with an office and employed staff.  BUTA is a not for profit entity which manages the Estate for the benefit of its shareholders and re-charges only what it costs to run and maintain.  The Board of Directors are all, as required by the Mem&Arts, shareholders; either leaseholders or renters.

In light of the 1994 Leasehold Reform Act it was decided in 1995 to offer, for nil consideration, new leases with a term of 999 years from 1976, to all long leaseholders who wished to acquire them.  These new leases continue to embody the original intentions of the 1976 participants. At the time the standard new lease was drafted and agreed it also dealt with a number of anomalies and ambiguities contained in the original lease. Since 30th September 2003 the cost for obtaining lease extensions has been based upon professional valuation.


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