Conveyancing – Leasehold Title: Good and Absolute

Buying a Property

When you buy a property, what you are buying, in legal terms, is the title to the property – you are buying a set of legal rights (and responsibilities) with regard to the property. Whatever you’re buying, you should make sure you know what type of title it is that you’ll own for future reference, so that you know exactly where you stand in terms of the law.

Leasehold as opposed to Freehold

Normally when we think of owning property, we think of owning a building, for example a house, together with the area of land that it sits in – this type of ownership will normally involve a Freehold title. In this case, you own that property until you choose to give it up, and are entitled to do more or less anything you want to it, as long as that’s within planning laws etc.

When you buy a flat however, it will typically be a Leasehold title that you are purchasing, as the flat is a part of a larger building, that is in turn owned by someone else.

Rights and Responsibilities

Naturally, when you own a flat, you do not own the building or land in which it sits, and therefore what you are actually buying, is the right to occupy it for a period of time. Your lease will also grant you whatever access you need to use and maintain the flat, which will generally of course involve access to the containing building and land.

Your own particular lease will detail the length of time that you have bought the right to remain in the property for, which will generally be around 99 years or more.

Your lease will also require you to fulfil certain responsibilities with regard to the containing property, for example service costs for maintaining the overall building in which your flat sits. In some cases you may be required to pay ground rent for the building’s land itself.

There are also restrictions on what you can do to a property that you own a Leasehold title on, for example you cannot make structural changes to the building, although you will generally be required to carry out essential maintenance on it. 

Registry

When you own property, the Land Registry records the details of the title that you hold with regard to that property. This applies to Leasehold titles as well as Freehold.

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