Recently LEASE (the non-departmental government body that advises on Leasehold Issues) asked me to record a podcast on Leasehold Houses and buying the freehold to them under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
A link to the podcast appears below:
Leasehold Houses present a range of issues in practice, in particular, in the case of higher value or Central London properties there has been (and is) ongoing debate on ‘what is a house’ for the purposes of making a claim to the freehold under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
However, in the vast majority of cases, provided that the property looks like a house (i.e. no mixed use elements and no significant overlap with any other property) then making a claim to the freehold will be possible under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. The only debate will be as to the price to be paid, which depends on a number of variables, but notably the rateable value (or the calculation of a substitute figure for this) if the property was constructed after the rating regime was abolished in 1990.
The main requirement is that you have owned the property for two years, although there are no restrictions on ownership by a corporate body. The right can also be assigned and so if you are buying a property that is leasehold house, provided the seller has owned for two years, their right to claim the freehold can be assigned to you.
The podcast deals with the basics of making a claim under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
It is also interesting that this issue has been picked up in the press recently, as it is not just historic properties which may be long leasehold (and hence enfranchiseable houses). See also the recent discussion on the Mail Online site which looked at the trend for new build developers to construct leasehold houses. For further information see the link below:
Whilst this might seem potentially a strange decision, often with a private estate or development leasehold houses, together with an estate management scheme can assist in ensuring appropriate maintenance contributions in respect of common roads or facilities. However, for the individual home owner, going that further step of buying the freehold will free them from the need to pay ground rent and may also assist in reducing ownership costs if for instance they can then place their own insurance.
Mark Chick is a solicitor dealing with leasehold issues. This note (being very general in its nature) is not a complete statement of the law in this area. It is therefore not a substitute for legal advice from a suitably qualified professional and should not be relied upon as such. No liability can therefore be accepted for any actions based on reliance upon it.