Do you know the difference between Freehold and Leasehold? Does it matter?

What is freehold?

If you own the freehold, it means that you own the building and the land it stands on. A freehold estate in land (as opposed to a leasehold) is where the owner of the land has no time limit to his period of ownership. You won’t have to pay annual ground rent.

By owning the freehold of a property, you have the sole responsibility for maintaining the fabric of the building – the roof and the outside walls.

Houses are generally sold as freehold. However, please note flying-freeholds.

Service charges are not generally payable with freehold properties. However, take note that developers are now requiring owners of new build properties to contribute towards the maintenance of shared driveways and communal/estate landscaping. Check before you buy.

Generally, the only ways in which you can lose a freehold property is either by repossession by your lender due to non-payment of your mortgage or compulsory purchase.

 What is leasehold?

Leasehold means that you own a property (usually a flat) for a fixed term but not the land in which it stands on.  There is an agreement between you the Leaseholder and the Freeholder, the party who owns the land in which the entire block is situated. This document is a called the ‘Lease’.

The lease is usually long term, often 99 years, sometimes as high as 999 years. The lease also sets down the legal rights and responsibilities of either side.

Possession of the property will be subject to the payment of an annual ground rent. In addition to ground rent leaseholders will usually also pay service charges and their share of the buildings insurance.

The Freeholder will normally be responsible for maintaining the common parts of the building, such as the entrance hall and staircase, as well as the exterior walls and roof. However, other leaseholders might have claimed their “right to manage”, in which case it is their responsibility.

When the lease expires, ownership of the property reverts back to the freeholder.

A major consideration is, if you as leaseholder do not fulfil the terms of the lease; for example, by not paying the ground rent/service charges or breached a term of the lease then the lease can be forfeited, and you will have to give up possession of your property.

Taking the above into account, Freehold is generally the preferred option.

If you would like further information in respect of the above, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly team on 01279 466910 or send us an email to

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Does how you own a Property with a partner really matter?

The answer is YES!!

In an ideal world, moving house would be simple, fast, and stress-free. Unfortunately, in reality things are different. When you move house it is likely that there are a number of different factors sending your brain on overdrive.

The last thing you are going to be thinking about is: “how am I going to own/hold this property?”

In most circumstances unless your solicitor asks you, you will probably think “What is even meant by owning/holding a property?”

When you purchase a property there are two ways in which you can own the property. You can hold the property as joint tenants, or tenants in common.

Purchasing a property is huge financial step in your life. It is therefore important that you consider how the property is going to be owned.

Owning the property as joint tenants has several benefits. One of the most important benefits is that when one owner passes away, their share of the property is automatically transferred into the remaining owner’s name. However, you will need to notify the Land Registry of the change of circumstances.

When the property is owned as joint tenants you will automatically own the property in equal shares.

In contrast, if you own then property as tenants in common, when one owner passes away, the property does not automatically transfer to the remaining owner. Instead the interest in the property will revert to what is stated in the deceased Will. If a Will is not in place the Intestacy Rules will then apply. If you are an unmarried couple and there has been no provision for transferring the property, for example in a Will, then you may have difficulties remaining in your home. This is a scary thought!

The Intestacy Rules may result in the deceased share of the property being gifted to someone else. The living owner will then own the property jointly with the person whom the interest is gifted to. This can then cause difficulties as the new owner may want to sell the property.

Another important factor to consider when choosing how to hold the property, is whether you stipulate the percentage of interest each owner has in the property. This may be something to consider if one party is contributing all, or a large sum of, the deposit to the property. This can be detailed in a Declaration of Trust which is a legally binding instrument.

With the right preparations, your financial interest can be protected and future disputes are hopefully avoided.

At Watson Legal we pride ourselves in addressing each individual’s circumstances. If you require advice on how you currently own your property or if you are thinking of purchasing a property or simply would like more information, please call 01279 466910 or email

You can also get a FREE no obligation quote by clicking this link

Quick Tips for Private Landlords and Tenants

It is not uncommon for property to be used as an investment. To gain an income from that investment, it is often let to a tenant. As a private landlord you need to protect yourself.

For starters do you have a Tenancy Agreement? This is often in the form of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) and usually for a fixed term. When that fixed term expires the terms of the AST remain in place but becomes a periodic tenancy. This then effects how the tenancy can be brought to an end.

One of the most important elements is whether the tenant’s deposit has been protected. Since 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents for ASTlandlord_keys’s must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. If the landlord fails to comply, an application can be made to the court and possession can be barred. Furthermore the landlord is likely to be requested to return the deposit or place it in an appropriate scheme, if the tenancy is continuing and be liable for a penalty of up to three times the amount of the deposit.

The next difficulty comes when you require possession of the property. This could be for a variety of reasons such as, but not limited to, you requiring it for personal occupation, the tenant’s failure to pay rent or breach of another term of the AST, or even if the tenant has been convicted of a criminal offence.

To obtain possession the first stage is to issue either a section 8 or section 21 Eviction_Noticenotice. Dependant on the grounds, the tenant will be given between two weeks and two months to vacate, failing which possession proceedings can be issued.

There are two types of proceedings. The quickest and the simplest route is the Accelerated Procedure. This is in essence a paper exercise and can only be used if you do not wish to seek any other orders, such as judgment for rent arrears. The other option is the Standard Procedure which can include additional claims for rent arrears, damage to property etc. This route requires a Court hearing.

Once a Possession Order has been ordered, the tenants will typically be given 14 or 28 days to leave the property. The Judge can give them up to 42 days if leaving sooner would cause exceptional hardship. If the tenants do not leave at this point, bailiffs can be instructed to enforce the Possession Order.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant in any of the situations described above Watson Legal can help. We offer fixed fees for this type of work. Please call 01279 466910 to arrange a free 30 minute consultation.

Buying a House – Do I Need a Survey?


The easy answer to that question is Yes. The next question is why?

Buying a property is probably one of the most expensive purchases you will make in your lifetime, so you need to make sure it is the right choice.

What if following the purchase of your dream home you find that there is subsidence, woodworm, an electrical fault or the boiler is unsafe, just to name a few potential issues. These can be expensive problems to rectify.

Prevention is better than cure
The simplest way to avoid this type of scenario is by a property survey, which is undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor. The report will confirm whether the property you are purchasing is in the condition you expect for the price you are paying.

Valuation – what is the difference?
A survey should not be confused with a valuation. If you are buying with the help of a mortgage, the Mortgage Provider will undertake a valuation to determine whether the property is worth the money you are paying for it. The valuation will only involve a superficial inspection of the property. Sometimes the valuer does not even enter the property but just looks at it from the outside, often referred to as a drive-by valuation.

Two types of surveys – which one?
There are two main types of property survey. The best, but most expensive, is the full structural survey. This is a thorough and detailed assessment of the condition of the property highlighting any defects, major or minor, what is required for these to be remedied and providing information about the possible cost of repair.

This type of survey is particularly important if, the property you are looking to buy is older or perhaps more unusual, thatched or timber framed or you are planning major works or has already had extensive alterations.

The other type of survey is the Homebuyers Report. This is not as detailed as the structural survey. The report will look at the general condition of the property, test for damp and damage to timbers (including woodworm and rot). It will consider the condition of any damp proofing and insulation and provide a figure for building insurance purposes should the property ever need to be rebuilt and provide the value of the property on the open market. Unlike a structural survey the surveyor will not be intrusive, they will not check under floorboards or move furniture.

Whichever survey you decide upon, it is in your best interests for a survey to be undertaken at the earliest opportunity to guard against any unwelcome surprises once the property is yours.

If you require any assistance in the sale or purchase of your home please call 01279 466910 or email and let our friendly team show you a new way of providing legal services.