Leasehold Houses

Lease Extension and Freehold Acquisition

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What is a leasehold house

A leasehold house does not contain flats, it is a single dwelling originally sold by granting a long lease as opposed to a freehold. The lease is a contract between the freeholder (the owner of the land upon which the house is sitting and sometimes parts of the building itself) and the lessee (the owner of the house). Some of the lease terms may impose strict repairing obligations and high ground rent charges (annual payments to the freeholder). Owners of leasehold houses may find they have difficulty affording the costs of those terms and also trouble selling the house as buyers generally prefer to own their own freehold.

Recent developments

The Government has taken an interest in the issue and has released a consultation paper entitled “Tackling Unfair Practices in the Leasehold Market”. The Government recognises the difficulty the leasehold house may impose for the owners and is consulting on whether changes should be made to the legislation. Any new legislation that is eventually passed to prevent onerous lease clauses being written into new leases will not assist those who have already purchased.

Solving the problem

There is a right to require the freeholder to sell you the freehold of your leasehold house under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. Using the procedure in this Act (subject to your qualification under the Act) we can help you to buy the freehold from the current freeholder. The premium you will have to pay the freeholder is calculated using a prescribed formula within the Act. The calculations are carried out and negotiated by valuers expert in this area. If the premium cannot be agreed by negotiation, either party may apply to the property tribunal to decide a fair price which the freeholder will be ordered to accept.

This is a very complex area of the law and requires expert advice. Please contact one of our specialist solicitors on 0208 974 7490 or  to discuss the best way forward for you and we will provide you with further and specific advice tailored to your circumstances. 

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