If you’re buying or selling a flat, it’s most likely a leasehold. Some houses can be leasehold too. Either way, the conveyancing process is different to buying a freehold property and is often more complex, so having expert legal advice can help keep things smooth and straightforward.
Our leasehold conveyancing solicitors have a wide range of experience helping people across the North West of England deal with leasehold property, including:
- Buying leasehold property
- Selling leasehold property
- Extending a lease
- Buying the freehold of a leasehold house
Get in touch with our leasehold conveyancing solicitors in Liverpool, Runcorn and Warrington
How our leasehold conveyancing solicitors can help you
Buying leasehold property
When you buy a leasehold property, you actually buy a long lease to occupy the property for a certain number of years. If you are thinking about buying a leasehold flat or house, our specialist leasehold conveyancing solicitors can help.
We are skilled at handling the unique legal factors that affect leasehold conveyancing transactions. For example, we can review the terms of the lease and provide advice on whether the terms suit your needs. We’ll help you avoid legal issues that can sometimes arise with leasehold property, as well as make sure there are no financial issues that could arise (such as escalating ground rent clauses).
Selling leasehold property
If you are looking to sell your leasehold property, we can ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Our leasehold conveyancing lawyers can handle all legal aspects of the sale, including preparing the draft contract of sale, dealing with enquiries from the buyer, and liaising with the freeholder.
If your lease is around or less than 80 years, you may find it hard to sell or remortgage. In this case, you may want to negotiate with the landlord to extend the lease. This could raise the value of your home and make it more attractive to buyers or mortgage lenders.
There are other benefits to extending your lease as well. For example, you may be able to reduce your ground rent payments to nothing. However, negotiations with the landlord (the freeholder) can sometimes be tricky, so it’s worth having a legal advisor on your side to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Our leasehold conveyancing solicitors can assist with lease extensions of flats and houses, including:
- Statutory lease extensions – many leaseholders get a legal right to extend their lease using a set process
- Voluntary lease extensions – all leaseholders can start lease extensions negotiations at any time with their landlord
Buying the freehold of a leasehold house
If you live in a leasehold house, it is usually possible to buy the freehold from the landlord (if you qualify). This has the benefit of giving you greater ownership and control over your home and can remove certain unpleasant requirements, such as ground rent or restrictions on alterations.
Our leasehold conveyancing solicitors can give you advice about buying the freehold of your leasehold house and represent you during the process.
What is the difference between freehold and leasehold?
If you are planning to buy a home, it is absolutely essential that you know what the difference between freehold and leasehold is.
When someone owns the freehold of a property, they own the entire thing, including the land the property stands on. There is no time limit on how long the freeholder owns the property – their ownership only ends if it is transferred, or they die. They will have significant control over what they can do with the property (subject to some limitations, such as restrictive covenants).
Owning leasehold property actually means that you own a long lease to occupy the property for a certain number of years.
If a property is leasehold, the freehold will be owned by someone else. Under your lease, you may have to pay charges (such as ground rent) to the freeholder and follow certain rules (such as getting permission before making alterations). When your lease runs out, ownership of the property will pass back to the freeholder (although many leases run for hundreds of years, and most leaseholders have a right to extend their lease).
This can obviously affect your enjoyment of the property, so it’s important to fully understand the terms of the lease and make sure you’re happy with them.
What is ground rent?
A leasehold is technically a long tenancy, so you usually have to pay rent (called ‘ground rent’) to the freeholder. The lease will say how much ground rent you have to pay and how much it will increase over the years.
Leasehold sector reform
The leasehold sector has received some bad press over the past few years. Concerns have been growing over increasing numbers of leasehold homes being sold with escalating ground rent clauses. Under these types of clauses, the costs of the lease tend to grow so quickly that the property quickly becomes unsellable – this is one of the many things we carefully examine when advising leasehold buyers to ensure our clients aren’t caught out.
There are also concerns about the increasing number of new houses being sold as leasehold. The main reason developers do this is to earn more money from the sale – they receive the purchase price for the property and an ongoing income stream from ground rent and other charges.
So, the government recently decided to change the law to make the system fairer to leaseholders. These changes include:
- Leaseholders will get a new right to extend their lease by 990 years at zero ground rent
- Ground rent will be capped
- The valuation process for enfranchisement will be reformed
These reforms have yet to be introduced. Our team are fully on top of the law and provide up-to-date advice.