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Buying a Leasehold Property

If you are thinking of buying a flat, it is almost inevitable that you will be buying a leasehold property.  What does this mean and how does it differ from buying a freehold property?  Leasehold means that you essentially own the property but the land on which the property is built is owned by a freeholder.  You will have the right to occupy the property for as long as the Lease is valid.  Owning the freehold on the other hand means that you both the property and the land on which the property stands.

In general, most properties in the UK are freehold and most flats are leasehold.

Provided the Lease is well written and the building is managed properly, there is no reason why a leasehold flat should not provide the basis of a good home and also provide a secure long term investment.

At Martin Tolhurst, we will check the Lease and all legal title documentation provided by the seller’s solicitors.  We will carry out all appropriate searches and report to you promptly with our comments on each of them.  Our online case tracking system allows you to keep in contact with us and track the progress of your transaction on a daily basis.  You will also be able to have direct telephone and email communication with your conveyancer from the very beginning of the transaction to the very end.

Owning a leasehold flat should not be a concern as long as you know and appreciate your rights and obligations.  We will explain these to you in full and we will check any restrictions in the Lease, for example, if you intend to let the property or carry out alterations.  To own a leasehold flat, you will be responsible for the maintenance of everything within the property, including the floorboards and plaster work, but normally this will exclude the exterior or structural walls.  Leasehold properties will often have management companies linked to them who will be responsible for the maintenance of common areas such as staircases and hallways and we will advise you on all aspects of this throughout the process.

Service or maintenance charges are often payable by the leaseholder to the landlord or management company and we will ensure that all relevant information is obtained from the landlord or management company so as to ensure you have absolute clarity on your service charge and ground rent responsibilities going forward.  Such service charges will often cover maintenance and repair, buildings insurance and the cleaning of common areas.

We will deal with the landlord and/or managing agent on your behalf to ensure that any completion requirements are dealt with so as to ensure that the landlord or managing agent’s records are updated to show you as the owner and that all accounts have been settled by the seller on legal completion.  It can often be a concern of buyers who are purchasing a leasehold property that they will inherit a liability incurred by the seller.  At Martin Tolhurst, we will ensure that this does not happen.

We can also, at your request, provide advice to you about extending the Lease depending on the number of years remaining on it.  Once Leases have less than 80 years remaining then it is often the case that arrangements will be made to have the Lease extended at the same time as your purchase completes.

Our purchasing processes are conducted quickly over the telephone, by internet and by email with constant backup and advice provided throughout.  There is no need for you to visit our offices though of course you can do so if you wish.