We often get asked if we can find a freehold apartment for people as they don’t like the idea of service charges and ground rent. In the United Kingdom, it is the norm for most apartments and flats to be sold as a ‘leasehold’ as opposed to a ‘freehold’.
This is because the freehold of a property is the ownership in perpetuity of the ground upon which the property itself is built, this is difficult if you are on the second floor of an apartment block!
The leasehold of a property is essentially the ownership of the space within the four walls of, for example, your two bedroom apartment. You are responsible for the property within and the costs of the maintenance of the exterior building structure and associated grounds and services are the shared responsibility of all those who own an apartment.
Most apartment blocks will have a management company to which they all pay a service charge, which is collectively used to keep the communal and structural fabric of the building in good repair. This might also include parking spaces allocated to your flat, gardening, buildings insurance and even window cleaning!
Some apartments, especially in smaller 2 or 3 bedroom conversions, might be sold as a ‘share of the freehold’. In this case you will still be liable should issues arise – for example the roof leaking – and will be required to contribute your share of the costs (in a 2 flat development this would be 50%). This is normally set out explicitly in the deed to the property, but if clearly documented can cause issues later down the line with who is responsible.
Leases can range from as little as 100 years to as much as 999 years, especially those in the North of England. A long lease is as good as a freehold and is seen the same by most lenders. If you are looking at a leasehold apartment and it has less than 100 years left then don’t panic, you are entitled to renegotiate the lease. There are set procedures to do this and it will not cost the same as buying the whole property again!
Wondering how much your property is worth?
Try our instant online valuation tool to satisfy your curiosity! Alternatively, let our valuers are always on hand if you’re thinking of selling in the near future. Just give us a call on 01904 655222 or complete our valuation form here