The two main types of interest in land in the United Kingdom are freehold and leasehold.
Typically, in the UK, most houses are likely to have a ‘freehold title’ and most flats have a ‘leasehold title’.
What is Freehold?
Freehold is the best class of title available and simply means that you have outright ownership of the land and any property on it.
There is no time limit on the period of ownership and the only restrictions are planning laws that have to be obtained through applications to the local council, in addition to any covenants and obligations affecting the title.
If you own the freehold interest in a property then you can grant a leasehold interest in it to someone else.
What is Leasehold?
In contrast, Leasehold is an interest in land or property for a specific period of time. The freeholder (also known as the landlord) grants a lease to the tenant (also known as the lessee), for a fixed term; generally, for a lease length of 99, 125 or 999 years.
Leases for residential property are usually lengthy and complex documents although the basic principle is the same. The aim of the lease is to ensure that in return for the lessee paying the rent and service charge and observing the covenants and obligations contained in the lease, the landlord agrees to grant to the lessee the property for the term specified in the lease and with the benefit of the various rights set out in the lease.
When ‘purchasing’ a leasehold property, you are purchasing the lease that the freeholder has written and are therefore, in essence, purchasing the space between within the walls of your property, not the walls themselves. For any structural changes to be made, permission must first be granted by the freeholder and, if applicable, the management company.
At the end of the term, the lessee no longer has a right to occupy the property and so possession of the property reverts to the landlord. To counter this, the lessee will either agree an extension of the term of the lease with the landlord for a fee, or if they cannot, there are statutory procedures that the lessee may use to extend the lease.
If you would like more information on how we can help you manage your lease extension or freehold purchase, please do not hesitate to contact on 0845 838 5172 or email us at email@example.com to speak with a member of our team.
McNulty, F. (2018) 'Need to know: Freehold or leasehold — what's the difference?', Evening Standard, 22 February [Online]. Available at: https://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/buying/first-time-buyers/freehold-or-leasehold-whats-the-difference-a118001.html (Accessed: 23 February 2018).