If you buy a flat you will probably be a leaseholder.
What leasehold means
If your home is leasehold, it means another person called the freeholder owns the land your home is built on.
When you buy your home, you lease it from a freeholder. You may deal with a managing agent rather than the freeholder.
The freeholder can be an individual or a:
- private company
- housing association
Most flats are owned by leaseholders.
Houses can also be leasehold - for example some new builds and homes bought through shared ownership schemes.
Leasehold is like a very long tenancy. Your lease (legal agreement) with the freeholder allows you to own your property for a fixed number of years.
If you are a shared owner
Shared ownership leasehold means you own a share of the property and rent the remaining share, usually from a housing association.
Find out more from LEASE about shared ownership leases
How long will my lease last
A lease usually lasts between 99 and 125 years but can be as long as 999 years.
The number of years left on your lease affects the cost of your home and its resale value.
Always check how many years are left on a lease before you buy
Extending the lease
The number of years left on the lease reduces each year. You can usually pay to extend a lease before it expires.
Extending a lease can add value to your property, especially if your lease is short. You need to have owned the property for at least two years.
Find out more from LEASE about extending your lease
Buying the freehold
You may be able to buy the freehold and become the freeholder.
Talk to LEASE about how to buy the freehold
Rights and responsibilities
Your lease should set out rights and responsibilities for you and your freeholder.
It should say:
- how much ground rent costs and when it can be increased
- how service charges are calculated and paid
- who is responsible for repairs
- how repairs are paid for
- when the freeholder's permission is needed for alterations
- who is responsible for buildings insurance
You and your freeholder must keep to the lease conditions. If one of you doesn't, the other can take legal action.
Check what is written in your lease carefully before you sign
Charges you pay as leaseholder
Your lease says what charges you have to pay to your freeholder
Charges usually include:
- ground rent
- service charges for general maintenance and repairs
- a share of the buildings insurance
- a contribution to a sinking fund to cover the cost of future repair works
The freeholder or management company will send you a formal demand for service charge payment.
It must include:
- the name and address of the freeholder
- a summary of your rights and obligations regarding the service charge
If you don't deal directly with your freeholder, write to the managing agent to ask for the freeholder's name and address.
They can be fined if they do not give you this information.
Ask the Land Registry for the title register of your property if the managing agent won't give you the details.
You can do this online or by filling out a form. You have to pay a small fee.
If your freeholder can't be found, you can apply to the leaseholder tribunal to appoint a manager of the freehold
Still need help?
Contact LEASE for advice about your rights or problems with your freeholder.
Last updated 13 May 2019 | © Shelter
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