As Freeholder what can I amend in the Lease?

by Readers Question

14:18 PM, 25th May 2017
About A year ago

As Freeholder what can I amend in the Lease?

Make Text Bigger
As Freeholder what can I amend in the Lease?

I will hopefully shortly be in the position of buying the freehold to my upstairs flat and the one underneath it which comprise the two properties in a converted house. Crucially this will be so that I can extend the lease which is now down to around a 70 year term however, can I also change other terms within the lease once I am the Freeholder?

For example, and extremely unusually, each flat is responsible for arranging its own buildings insurance. Additionally, I, as the owner of the upstairs flat am solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the roof and top half of the exterior of the property whilst the downstairs flat is solely responsible for the downstairs exterior.

Fortunately this has worked to, date but could be fraught with all manner of issues if one party decides to ignore their responsibilities, therefore once I own the Freehold is there anything to stop me from rewriting the Lease to a more traditional one where the Freeholder arranges insurance and exterior maintenance?

Just to clarify I own the upstairs flat but I do not own the downstairs flat.

Thank you.

Paul



Comments

Neil Patterson

14:23 PM, 25th May 2017
About A year ago

Hi Paul,

I do not specifically know leasehold law, but please do check out the Leasehold advisory service >> http://www.lease-advice.org/

However, I am concerned that your building is not properly insured.

You can't as far as I am aware normally insure part of a building which is why a Freeholder always arranges a block policy. I would get this checked and clarified asap and if you need cover email me npatterson@property118.com and I will get Jason to sort a suitable policy out for you.

Paul Baker

16:32 PM, 25th May 2017
About A year ago

Thank you Neil. I have owned the flat since 1992 and the insurance issue was first flagged up to me by my solicitor just prior to exchange. I have always been able to insure the flat without too much difficulty, although some of the mainstream providers won't offer cover but many others have done.

Paul Baker

18:59 PM, 25th May 2017
About A year ago

I took your advice Neil & looked at the lease.org website and can probably answer my own question now! Many thanks again. If necessary I can take the matter to the First-tier Tribunal:

An individual party to a lease can make an application to a First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to vary the lease under the provisions of Part 4 Section 35 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. However the grounds for a compulsory lease variation are limited. The grounds under which you can make an application are:
• The lease has inadequate provisions relating to the repair/maintenance of the flat or building.
• The insurance provisions of the lease are inadequate.

Paul Green

16:37 PM, 26th May 2017
About A year ago

You can also change the length of the lease to 999 years and remove the ground rent. We did when 5 flats bought the freehold. 20.% each. We now dont pay ground rent to our selves and have 999 years instead of 125. So we don't have to worry when the lease only has 80 years or less....the while building is insured once and we all pay for common parts like roof as we all live under the same one maintenance percentage is based on flat size. So 3 ground floor flats pay 17% the 2nd floor 25% top flat 26% I think equals 100% or there abouts.

Paul Green

16:44 PM, 26th May 2017
About A year ago

It's 24% and 25%

Puzzler

11:55 AM, 27th May 2017
About A year ago

Who currently owns the freehold? Have you discussed with the owner of the other flat?

Paul Baker

17:03 PM, 27th May 2017
About A year ago

Since the property was converted 30 years ago the freeholder also owned the downstairs flat until last year when he sold the downstairs flat although he extended the lease for the downstairs flat prior to the sale. I don't know who the new owner is of the downstairs flat but I'm on good terms with the Freeholder and am confident that he will sell the Freehold to me later this year.

Puzzler

10:24 AM, 28th May 2017
About A year ago

Well in that case you can :

Either extend the lease, I wonder why you didn't do it at the same time as downstairs if you are on good terms with the freeholder to save costs. This leaves the anomaly of the freehold.

Or, you can buy the freehold but it would have made more sense for both you and your new neighbour to buy the freehold together when the other flat was sold rather than extend their lease. It may be that your freeholder did not know that was an option. Or he wants to hang on to it as its value goes up the longer you leave it.

You are now in a disadvantaged position as you have a short lease. Are you familiar with the responsibilities of a freeholder? There are a load of guides on the ARMA website and LEASE.

Please get professional advice as to your options. The other flat owner will have to be consulted anyway as the freeholder has to offer it to the leaseholders first if he is selling it. In your position I would try to buy it jointly. You will need a specialist solicitor and professional valuation taking into account the relative length of both leases (so you will probably have to pay more as your neighbour will have paid a lease extension premium). Valuers are few and far between outside London.


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Croydon Council Support S21 Ban

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More