If you are currently the owner of a leasehold house in England and Wales, then you could well be eligible to purchase the freehold of your property [a process also known as enfranchisement]. Most UK houses are owned on a freehold basis to start with, but if yours is not, you may have the opportunity to buy the freehold of your house if your landlord decides to sell it, or if you meet the legal conditions required for you to exercise your right to enfranchise.
The article describes the process an advantages of buying the freehold of a house – which is both different from and much less common than leaseholders coming together to jointly buy the freehold of their block of flats – a process known as “collective enfranchisement”.
Buying the Freehold of your House – the first steps
The process involved in buying the freehold of your house is certainly much easier than collective enfranchisement – not least because you will have control of the process and won’t be dependent on the input of your fellow flat owners.
The first thing is to establish whether or not you have the right to buy the freehold of your house. In most cases you will be entitled to purchase the freehold if you meet the following three criteria;
- the original lease when you purchased the property was for more than 21 years
- the lease covers the whole house
- you have owned the lease to your house for at least 2 years.
Once you have established that you have the right to buy your freehold, the first thing to be done is to formally inform the freeholder of your intention to buy the freehold. This is known as the “initial notice” and is given to the freeholder as a formal legal document. At every stage of enfranchisement, the and the strict timetable kept to – otherwise you have to start again from scratch. After the service of that initial notice, your freeholder then has two months to respond to your initial notice with a reply which is known as a “counter notice”. Negotiations about the price and other conditions of the sale can then begin.
Benefits of Buying your Freehold
Buying the freehold of your house has numerous benefits.
No more ground rent
If you have been paying an annual ground rent to your landlord, that payment ceases when you buy the freehold.
Control over the maintenance and management of your house
Owning the freehold gives you more flexibility about how and when to carry out repairs and maintenance to your property. It also means you don’t have a freeholder or landlord any more – so you don’t need to pay them a service charge, or get their permission for example for any alterations or improvements you would like to make to your house.
Increase in value
Owning the freehold of your house not only makes it more valuable, but it’s also much more attractive to potential buyers too – the vast majority of whom much prefer freehold house and would not be interested in a leasehold house.
This is the other major advantage of owning the freehold to your property. Leaseholders never own their houses outright, even if they have paid off their mortgage many years in the past, and this can mean there is always the nagging possibility of being evicted. Freehold acquisition gives the added peace of mind knowing that you own the totality of your property and cannot be evicted unless you default on your mortgage.
Freehold Purchase – Get Expert Legal Advice
Buying the freehold of your house isn’t something you can do on your own without expert legal advice, and it is always worth getting advice from a solicitor who specialises in freehold purchase – most conveyancing solicitors have little if any experience of enfranchisement – especially when it comes to enfranchising of a house.
Our solicitors are genuine specialists – freehold purchase and lease extension work is all they do, so by instructing us, you can rest assured you’re dealing with someone who really knows what they doing .
Want to Know How Buy the Freehold of your House? Call us today
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