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Purchasing a leasehold with a missing freeholder

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  • Purchasing a leasehold with a missing freeholder

    I am hoping that someone can offer some advice. I have found a flat that I like in the london area with 79 years remaining on its lease. The agent states that the vendor had begun the process of purchasing the freehold and to offer as if it was a share of freehold. However the proccess only began in the last couple of weeks and to date they can't find the freeholder. I am not sure of how to procceed as it will take many months for them to sort out the freehold - is it common to purchase the freehold whilst selling? Is there a way that I can avoid waiting for many months if I do go ahead?

  • #2
    If the freeholder can't be found it will take ages to acquire the freehold as they will have to go through the courts and the LVT to get a vesting order. I would guess round about a year to do this. It will still cost the lessees of the flats several thousand pounds plus the legal costs.

    Mortgage lenders are not very keen on flats with missing freeholders so you might have difficulties in that respect too. If you do manage to buy the lease you may then have difficulties selling.

    Unless it is the most amazing bargain I would steer well clear.
    RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
    As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.


    • #3
      Hi Richard,
      Thankyou for your response. I have spoken to the agent again and the freeholder is definitely missing - I guess they just didn't worry about the gorund rent!. I think we will give this one a wide berth.


      • #4
        Re: Purchasing a leasehold with a missing freeholder

        Richard is right that the absentee landlord should dissuade you from buying this property. However, if you get good advice, you it may be worth the effort, as long as you can negotiate down the price.

        Absent freeholders or absentee landlords are a common problem but one that can almost always be solved by a good leasehold enfranchisement solicitor or surveyor and some patience and persistence. But you need the stomach for a non-standard purchase and be keen to negotiate!

        If you want to find a local specialist you can find vetted and experienced solicitors and surveyors involved in lease extensions and freehold acquisition in the ALEP (Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners) list at their web site alep. org. uk or via the leasehold advisory service.