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Can a flat be leasehold and freehold?

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By : Andy Szebeni    99 or more times read
Common queries among folks new to the theory of leasehold in relation to possessing an apartment are; 'How do I go over to a freehold?', 'How do I make my flat freehold instead of leasehold?', 'How do I procure a freehold instead of a leasehold flat?'. The wording of these questions highlights a common and understandable confusion about the nature of the connection between freehold and leasehold in private residential property.

In essence, a flat that is leasehold will always be leasehold. Any alterations that you make will not 'convert' it to freehold. There is a significant exception in the form of Commonhold tenure which we will not consider here. The chief reason we can put it to the side is that it is an exceptionally unusual form of tenure in the UK and hard to assemble the requisite amount of individuals to make it successful. We do nevertheless focus on it in a separate editorial.

Remember that the lease is a legal document governing the connection between the leaseholder and the freeholder. This outlines the rights and obligations of each participant. It is a prudent text to have as it makes sure those living in close proximity act in a way that is fair-minded and considerate. Many flat owners would like to get rid of leases for the reason that they oblige them to maintain their timber home windows, have carpets fitted instead of wooden laminate floors or refrain from fitting satellite television dishes. Nonetheless, these provisions regularly make communal living more considerate and help to sustain property values when properly applied.

As long as they can satisfy certain conditions, the largest part owners of leasehold flats in England and Wales can get hold of their share of freehold. If they do that, then they will simultaneously be a partial freeholder in addition to being a leaseholder. The lease does not just disappear: it continues to govern the style inhabitants must conduct themselves who are responsible for the estate.

Thus at this point one can see why the question 'How can I convert to a freehold?' is essentially the wrong question. Nothing new is produced or changed in reality. When buying a share of freehold an apartment owner is acquiring the freehold for their part of the block from the present freeholder. The apartment owner continues to be a party to the existing lease agreement. However, they almost become their own freeholder, unusual as that may appear.

This is not as silly as it looks in the beginning because it is incredibly rare in a lot of blocks of flats, where the neighbours come together to buy the freehold, for every flat owner to contribute. These non-participants continue to be leaseholders but now their freeholder has altered. Usually, everything else stays the same as far as they are concerned and it costs the non-participants nothing. However, they miss out on the benefits that come with having their share of freehold. However, arguably, they also don't tackle some of the obligations that come with owning a share of freehold.
About the author
Andy Szebeni is part of the administration team of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners. ALEP has in excess of 100 members, each vetted before joining. They include solicitors, surveyors, intermediaries, managing agents and other professionals in England and Wales specialising in the field of leasehold enfranchisement. Have a look at the searchable catalog of vetted people at

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