Buying and selling a freehold flat

Buying a freehold can be a very complicated process. Freehold flats are not to be confused with owning a share of the freehold or leasehold flat connected to a freehold flat. There is far more protection for the owner of a leasehold flat than there is for the owner of a freehold flat who has nothing to fall back on when things go wrong. For this reason lenders are unwilling to lend on freehold flats as most of them do not consider them to be ‘sound’ security. If you are considering buying a freehold flat serious consideration should be given to whether or not mortgage finance can be secured and how easy it will be to sell the property in the future, it is advisable to secure a mortgage well in advance and to intimate your lender on everything about the freehold flat.

The purchase of a freehold flat must be treated with caution. You can probably buy the freehold if:

  • the whole house is covered by your lease
  • the lease was granted to the original leaseholder for at least 21 years
  • you have owned the lease to your home for at least two years (you don’t have to have lived in the property during that time).

However, you may be excluded from buying the freehold if:

  • the freeholder is a charitable housing trust
  • the public has the right of access to your property
  • the freehold includes adjoining property (such as farm land)
  • you have a business lease (although there are some exceptions)
  • you bought your home through a shared ownership scheme and have not yet bought the remaining shares in your home.

An original freehold flat can be difficult to find. Owners of Freehold Flats can run into difficulty when major structural problems arise with the property.

Unless there is a legal agreement in force between the owner of the freehold flat and the owners of adjacent properties there could well be huge problems in the future in agreeing on structural repairs and their associated costs. We can help in drafting a legal agreement which will avail you of all the problems associated with freehold flat and also give you advice on freehold flat in its entirety.

When you buy a flat, you may have to pay an annual rent (known as a ‘ground rent’) to the freeholder.

If flat is in a building which is maintained by the freeholder (usually the case with larger blocks of flats) you will have to make regular payments (known as ‘service charges’) towards the cost of maintaining repairing and insuring the building.

These payments can amount to several hundreds or even thousands of pounds each year, so you need to take them into account when looking at properties.

The exact arrangements for building maintenance vary widely between properties and your solicitor will get all the details for you. However you should appreciate that you will often have little or no say over what work is done or how much it will cost. There is legislation which does give flat-owners some rights but it can be difficult to enforce.


Please call us on 0207 183 0084 or email us on for a fixed fee conveyancing quotation and to ask us about any reservations or queries that you may have; we are always happy to assist.