When you buy a leasehold property, you’re technically only buying the property for a certain period of time.
This is because the ownership of the house returns to the freeholder once the lease ends. It’s much more likely that you’ll buy a house that’s already freehold, but this isn’t a guarantee as some homes are still leasehold.
Owning a freehold property means you won’t have to pay any ground rent, you’re in control of maintaining your home and you’ll be less restricted when it comes to making changes to the property.
The process of purchasing a freehold varies quite a lot dependent on whether you’re buying a house or a flat. Here, we’ll go through the process of purchasing a house freehold.
Purchasing your freehold
In a freehold property, you are the sole person responsible for looking after your home and land. You’ll have to budget for maintenance and upkeep, as you’re the sole freeholder who owns both the property and the land it stands on. But, although you’ll have to consider these costs, you may save in the long-run by purchasing your freehold.
It’s less common for a house to be leasehold, but in some cases you may find yourself faced with the decision as to whether or not to buy your freehold.
Even if your current lease lasts for quite a long time – like 70 years – you should probably still be considering purchasing your freehold. If you live in the property for 30 years or more, you may struggle to sell your home with just a 40-year lease. Even if you do manage to sell it, you may not be able to get the price you were hoping for. If you don’t know already, you can find out how long the lease on your property is by using the Land Registry website here.
In order to qualify for buying the freehold, you must have owned the property for over two years – from the date it was registered at the Land Registry. The property must be a house, and it has to be under a long lease, over 21 years. You don’t have to have lived in the house at all to qualify, providing you have owned it for more than two years.
You may not be able to qualify to purchase your freehold if the house has a certain type of shared ownership lease, or if it is protected by the Agricultural Holdings Act or if the National Trust or another public body owns the land your home is on. Other issues could arise if you’re not the only tenant living in the property.
If you want to purchase the freehold, get in touch with the freeholder. If you don’t know who that is, you should be able to find out on your copy of the lease – you can apply for a copy from the estate agent who sold you your home if you don’t have this – or on any bills they have sent to you. If they deal with a managing agent, you can ask them for your landlord’s name and address instead. They must provide you with this information by law.
How much does it cost?
Purchasing a freehold can be quite expensive, and the costs can vary dramatically. You’ll have to pay for the freehold itself, alongside legal fees, stamp duty and valuation fees for both you and your landlord.
It can be quite complicated to work out how much it will cost to buy your freehold. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Remember to weigh up how much you are paying out in fees to the freeholder, as these can be costly. It may be a long-term investment, but this could make a big difference if you plan on living in your home for a while or if the lease is due to run out within the time you’re going to be living there. In the end, purchasing your freehold should add value to your property.
Don’t forget, you are responsible for looking after your home and land when you own the freehold. You’ll have to remember to budget for maintenance and upkeep, but you may be able to save and carry out these tasks for cheaper than your landlords do.
For information on purchasing the freehold if you live in a flat or apartment, check back later to read our guide.
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