FAQs

Read out FAQs.

How long do I need to have owned my property?

In order to qualify under the 1967 (house) or 1993 (flats) Act, you need to have owned the property for at least two years from registration at the Land Registry.

Do I need to live in the property to claim?

For flats, no there is no residence qualification.

For houses, most of the time there is no residence qualification. If the property is a shop with flat above then you could still qualify to buy the freehold. The exception is, if there is a commercial element to the property that is run by the leaseholder, then they need to have lived in the property for at least 2 years (shop and flat).

I live in a flat over a shop; can I still extend my lease?

Yes, as long as the lease is for more than 21 years and you have owned the property for more than 2 years.

How long will the process take?

The average claim takes between 6 and 12 months to reach a conclusion. This includes the completion of the sale/extension by the solicitor. If you have a particularly difficult freeholder, or challenging case, it could be up to 18 months.

Do I need to get a quote from my freeholder before starting a claim?

No, you can start a claim without the freeholder knowing about it.

Often freeholders will charge for quotes. Each case should be looked at on its merits, usually having regard to how much the fee is in comparison with how much the flat it worth and how short the lease is.

My freeholder is asking too much – what do I do?

You do not have to accept their quote. You could serve a Notice and enforce your rights. This would enable you to bring the Statutory framework into the picture, meaning that they have to be reasonable to a certain extent, and if they continue to ask too much, we can always refer the case on to the First-tier Tribunal. Please give us a call and we can see what we can do for you.

My freeholder has offered me a lease extension with a much higher ground rent than the existing lease. Does that matter?

In most cases it will matter. Under the current law, they are allowed to keep a ground rent if you get a formal extension. By keeping a ground rent, they increase the value of their asset, particularly if the rent increases every 10 years or so, usually doubling or RPI. If they do this, they should offer you a substantial discount on a normal premium.

Additionally, it could put off potential purchasers when they are comparing your flat with others in the area that have extended leases and no ground rent – it starts to make your property look more expensive to run.

Will I need to pay any money up front?

Other than our fees, which are payable in manageable stages, the only money that can be demanded up front on a formal claim is the Statutory Deposit. For houses this is either £25 or three time current ground rent. For flats, it is £250 or 10% of the amount in the Notice. In both cases, this is deducted from the final amount that you will pay.

Am I bound by any quote that the freeholder has given me before?

You are not bound by any offer made to you in the past, even if you have accepted it and later changed your mind. If your freeholder has put a time limit on your offer, it is not fatal if you do not respond in this time.

Can I get a lease extension or buy the freehold if I don’t qualify?

You can always approach your freeholder to see if they would be willing to let you buy your freehold or get your lease extended. If they seem unwilling at first, we might be able to help you do this, as we have good working relationships with a good number of freeholders and their agents.

Can I get a lease extension or buy my freehold when I am selling my property?

Provided that you have owned the property for 2 years you can get a lease extension whenever you like. You must only be aware that the process will take between 6 and 12 months to complete, which might be a long time if you already have a buyer. Alternatively, you can start the process whilst marketing it and making anyone who views it aware of what you are doing, then they can choose whether to wait or take the process on themselves… (see below).

My buyer wants a lease extension/to buy the freehold – can they do that?

Yes! What we can do in exercise your rights in between exchange and completion and then transfer them over to your buyer. Once the Notice is served, it starts to form a contract that can be “sold” to another person. You/they will need a competent solicitor to draft up the proper transfer documents, but we can provide you with some suggestions.

Does it matter if I have transferred it into another family member’s name?

If the Land Registry have viewed the transfer as a new transaction, then yes, your 2 year period will begin again. Sometimes you can have names removed with no alterations, but frequently adding names re-boots your ownership and you will have to wait for 2 years.

I have just inherited the property, can I make a claim? Should I put the property in my name first?

If the person who owned the property qualified, then the Executors or Personal Representatives can exercise those rights on their behalf. You do need to have Grant of Probate in order to serve the Notice.

DO NOT TRANSFER THE PROPERTY INTO YOUR NAME! As soon as you do, you will not be able to exercise any previous rights and will have to accrue them yourself.

My property is a shared ownership flat/house, can I extend or buy the freehold?

For houses, the law is very clear – shared ownership houses do not qualify and you cannot purchase the freehold.

For flats, the position is unclear as there are conflicting pieces of case law. Generally, Housing Associations have a mandate to be a helpful as they can and enable their leaseholders to sell their property. This means that most have a policy of granting lease extensions. In these cases, Notices do not need to be served and it is likely that a valuation fee would be payable.

Why does nobody take a lease extension for 50 years on a house?

The answer to this question is both straight forward and complex. The short answer is: it is usually not worth the effort and you (your buyer) will end up paying for it later.

The longer answer is: a lease extension on a house is essentially free and so looks attractive. However, when the original lease ends and the extension starts, the freeholder can charge a “Section 15 ground rent” which can be many thousands of pounds, depending upon the size of the plot and value of the property. If you decide to buy the freehold later it will be much more expensive than it originally would have been, as it will be valued on the basis of the methodology the produces higher prices.

If my lease has expired, what can I do?

This is a very complex question. If you are in occupation of the property, your tenancy continues as before until it is brought to an end by the landlord. If you are not in occupation of the property, the lease ends and you have no rights over it.

If you occupy the property you could still enfranchise, but it will be very expensive.

If your landlord serves a Notice ending your tenancy, you will become a statutory tenant under an Assured Periodic Tenancy and you will pay rent at a similar level to a rent for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.