Can I purchase my freehold while social distancing during Covid-19 lockdown?

buying freehold

With the vast majority of us spending a lot more time in our homes and gardens it is inevitable that our minds will turn to some of the many outstanding jobs on our household ‘to-do’ lists, which we normally never find time to start and finish.

As well as fresh coats of paint and tackling the overgrown hedge, you may also have on your household ‘to-do’ list: buying the freehold to your home.

Buying a freehold, if you already own the leasehold, is where you purchase the land on which the property is based.

Buying your freehold, or extending your lease, can seem complicated and daunting. It has probably been languishing at the bottom of your household ‘to-do’ list for a long time but the enforced lockdown is giving people the time to research and start the ball rolling.

Can I still get help to buy my freehold during lockdown?

The short answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’. The legal process to buy a freehold can all be done while you and your solicitor are safely at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

Jennifer Gadsdon, Specialist Property expert and member of Birchall Blackburn Law’s Leasehold Enfranchisement Team, says: “Our team is working hard at home and can take instructions by phone, email or video conferencing. Now is a good time for people to start the process whilst they have time in their homes.”

The Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP), has reported a major spike in traffic to its website since the beginning of March as leaseholders and freeholders find out more about enfranchisement options.

Why buy the freehold to my property?

Leaseholders have the legal right to live in a property for a set number of years, whereas the freeholder owns the land on which the property is built. Flats are most commonly owned under leasehold, although a number of houses are leasehold. Subject to certain qualifying criteria, leaseholders of houses have a legal right to purchase the freehold to their house.

Buying the freehold to your home is beneficial for a number of reasons. For many people the main reason is that it may add value to their home. Potential buyers tend to prefer freeholds on property rather than leaseholds because a freehold house is less of a risk than a leasehold. If you own the freehold then you will have a wider interested market in your home if you do decided to sell in the future.

Even if you do purchase the freehold your lease will remain the same. So it is beneficial to talk to a specialist property solicitors who can advise you on merging the leasehold and freehold interests.

Who do I contact about leasehold and freehold advice and support?

It is important that you talk to an established specialist property expert with experience in leasehold and freehold matters. A good specialist property expert will be happy to give you free and confidential initial advice about your legal needs, so take the opportunity to talk to someone who can help.

Our Leasehold Enfranchisement team have experience of dealing with all kinds of leasehold enfranchisement matters acting for both freeholders and leaseholders. We have experience of both statutory and informal freehold purchases.

Buying collective freehold

Further reading:

Freehold vs leasehold: What’s the difference?

Collective Enfranchisement: a group of leaseholders (often apartment owners) coming together to buy the freehold of a building

Leasehold extensions