Can A Flat Be Leasehold As Well As Freehold?

Common questions among those new to the theory of leasehold in relation to having a flat are; How do I convert to a freehold?, How do I make my apartment freehold flat?, How do I procure a freehold instead of a leasehold apartment. The phrasing of these inquiries highlights a common and understandable confusion on the subject of the kind of the relationship between freehold and leasehold in private residential property.

In essence, a flat that is leasehold will always be leasehold. Any moves that you knock together will not convert it to freehold. There is an essential exception in the form of Commonhold tenure which we will not deal with here. The major reason we can put it to the side is that it is an extremely infrequent form of tenure in the UK and complicated to amass the necessary quantity of people to make it work. We do nevertheless consider it in a separate article.

Keep in mind that the lease is a legal text governing the connection between the leaseholder and the freeholder. This outlines the rights and obligations of each person. It is a prudent text to have since it makes sure people living in close proximity conduct themselves in a way that is reasonable and considerate. Many flat owners would like to get rid of leases as they oblige them to maintain their wooden house windows, have carpets fitted instead of wooden laminate flooring or refrain from installing satellite television dishes. Nonetheless, these provisions frequently make communal living more considerate and help to preserve property values when properly applied.

As long as they can satisfy certain circumstances, nearly all proprietors of leasehold flats in England and Wales can acquire their share of freehold. If they do that, then they will at the same time be a partial freeholder in addition to being a leaseholder. The lease does not cease to exist: it continues to govern the method neighbours have to act who are responsible for the development.

So at this point one can see why the inquiry ow can I change to a freehold is in fact the incorrect question. Nothing new is produced or converted in reality. When buying a share of freehold a apartment owner is purchasing the freehold for their part of the block from the existing freeholder. The flat owner continues to be a party to the existing lease agreement. However, they almost turn into their own freeholder, weird as that may appear.

This is not as silly as it seems initially because it is incredibly unusual in many blocks of flats, where the neighbours club together to acquire the freehold, for every flat owner to chip in. These non-participants continue to be leaseholders but now their freeholder has changed. Usually, all else stays the same as far as they are concerned and it costs the non-participants nothing. However, they overlook the benefits that come with owning their share of freehold. However, arguably, they also don?t tackle some of the obligations that come with owning a share of freehold.

About the author
Andy Szebeni is part of the administration group of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners. ALEP has upwards of 100 members, each vetted before joining. They include solicitors, surveyors, intermediaries, managing agents and other experts in England and Wales specialising in the field of leasehold enfranchisement. Have a look at the searchable directory of vetted affiliates at http://www.alep.org.uk/membership/.

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