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Are All Flats Leasehold?

Updated: Sep 17, 2023


 
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If you're looking to buy a flat England and Wales, you've probably come across the term's "leasehold" and "freehold". But what do these terms mean, and are all flats leasehold? In this article, Land Registry Online will explain the difference between leasehold and freehold properties and answer the question: Are all flats leasehold?



What is a leasehold property?


A leasehold property is one that is owned by the leaseholder for a fixed period of time, typically between 99 and 125 years. The leaseholder has the right to occupy and use the property during this time, but does not own the land on which the property is built. Instead, the land is owned by the freeholder.



Leasehold vs Freehold: What's the difference?


Freehold properties, on the other hand, are owned outright by the owner, who also owns the land on which the property is built. Freehold properties are therefore not subject to any leasehold agreements or restrictions.



Why are most flats leasehold?


In England and Wales, most flats are leasehold rather than freehold. This is because flats are often built as part of larger developments, and it is not practical or cost-effective for each flat owner to own a share of the freehold. Instead, the freehold is usually owned by a management company or the developer, who then grants each flat a leasehold interest.



Exceptions to the rule: When can flats be freehold?


While most flats are leasehold, there are exceptions to the rule. Some newer developments are built as commonhold properties, where each flat owner owns a share of the freehold. In addition, some older flats may have been sold as freehold properties in the past, although this is rare.



What are the advantages and disadvantages of leasehold flats?


Leasehold flats have both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, they can be more affordable than freehold properties, as the initial purchase price is lower. However, leasehold properties are also subject to various fees and charges, including ground rent, service charges and maintenance costs. In addition, leasehold properties may be subject to restrictive covenants, which can limit what you can do with your property.



How to buy a leasehold flat: Things to consider


If you're considering buying a leasehold flat, there are several things you should consider. Firstly, you should check the length of the lease, as a shorter lease can make the property less attractive to buyers in the future. You should also check the amount of ground rent and service charges, as these can increase over time and have a significant impact on the cost of living in the property.


If you are unsure who your freehold landlord is, at Land Registry Online, we offer a Title Register service that allows you to easily obtain this information. Simply select the desired documents, complete your details, and you will receive your documents by email within a few hours.



Summary


In summary, while most flats in England and Wales are leasehold, there are exceptions to the rule. Freehold flats are rare but may be available in newer commonhold developments or older properties that were sold as freehold in the past.


When considering buying a leasehold flat, it's important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. While leasehold properties may be more affordable, they are subject to fees and restrictions that can affect their long-term value. It's also important to carefully review the terms of the lease, including the length of the lease and any fees or charges associated with the property.



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