If you’re a leaseholder and you wish to purchase part of the freehold of your property, we will connect you to an experienced landlord and tenant lawyer. Freehold purchases can be complex and intricate, so finding legal guidance that can support you through the process is essential.
What is a freehold purchase?
In the UK, the ‘freehold’ of a property refers to the ownership of a property and the land it sits on. Most houses come with freehold of the land they are built on, while flats normally come with either a leasehold, or share of freehold.
Freehold purchases come about most commonly when a leaseholder, i.e. the owner of a leasehold flat, wants to buy a portion of the freehold. This may be because the existing freeholders are looking to sell a portion of the freehold, or simply because they are open to offers from leaseholders.
If a group of leaseholders come together to buy the freehold of a building, this is called leasehold enfranchisement.
Freehold refers to the ownership of the land on which a property is built. Normally owning the freehold means you own that piece of land outright in perpetuity (forever).
Owning the freehold comes with its own responsibilities, such as maintenance and repairs, but it also means that you don’t have to worry about renewing your lease, or losing your property if the lease expires.
Nowadays, it’s becoming more common to see leaseholds that last 999 years labelled as freeholds, but you should be mindful that this is misleading as they are leaseholds.
Share of Freehold
Part ownership of the freehold normally happens when you buy a flat that is sold with a share of freehold, as opposed to leasehold. However, flats are mostly sold and bought on a leasehold basis. It isn’t so common to own a house that is share of freehold.
In a shared freehold, no single person owns the entire freehold. Instead, it is split across the freeholders together.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Freeholds and Leaseholds
While it may seem advantageous to own the freehold of any property you’re considering buying, there are some drawbacks and advantages to both freeholds and leaseholds that you should be aware of:
Freehold Benefits and Drawbacks
+ You own the land and property forever
+ You are in control over your own property as a freeholder; there are no landlords involved
+ No ground rent or any other charges are payable
– Any costly works will be your responsibility alone
– Initial costs of a freehold property will typically be higher
Leasehold Benefits and Drawbacks
+ Potentially substantial savings on the initial property price
+ Sometimes a lower obligation for repairs and maintenance of the land and property
– If your lease is coming to an end, it can be extremely difficult to sell the property
– You have limited control over how much your landlord might charge you to renew the lease
How can A Lawyer help With Freehold Purchases?
If you’re a leaseholder looking to purchase a freehold, or a share of the freehold, having a lawyer will help you understand the requirements that must be met before you can go ahead with the purchase. Naturally, they will also be able to help with the purchase itself.
Particularly when it comes to buying a share of freehold in a block of flats, there are specific requirements that, if not met, mean you won’t be able to continue with the freehold purchase.
If buying a share of freehold, you must also be mindful of the responsibilities you will be taking on, and the financial burdens these can cause.
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