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  • DESPERATE: Missing freeholder - PURCHASE MISTAKE?


    After many unsuccessful purchases of properties over the last two years, found something perfect that I can afford, however it has 3 issues:

    1. a failed environmental search (can be insured - OK)
    2. A defective lease (related to insurance apparently, as above - OK)
    3. A missing freeholder (Oh dear)

    This property is a one up one down maisonette, and I am attempting to purchase up, which owns down's freehold. Down should own up's freehold, however this was not transferred between buyers when the property was last purchased, meaning that down does not own the freehold for up, as they are supposed to.

    Apparently, down set the ball in motion for buying up's freehold but ran out of money. The vendor of UP did not realise that this was an issue so never took any action.

    My questions are:

    As this freehold is not really related to down, can I persue the aqusition of it without DOWN agreeing to it?


    What would happen if the freeholder actually can be traced, but can't be bothered or doesn't want to sell the freehold?


    If I decide to buy despite all this rigmaroll, whict discount should I ask for on the property - it is now £144,500. The estate agent says £4,000 should cover it....so shall I times that by ten ?


    How long, roughly does the whole process take - I mean very roughly 2 weeks or 10 years?

    My main concern is re-saleability if the process falls through, and being slapped with a bill for the freehold that I can't afford (hence the property price reduction)

  • #2
    I suspect that the freehold of the upper maisonette is related to the lower maisonette, in that the idea was to enable each maisonett's owner to enforce repairing and similar obligations imposed on the other maisonette owner. However, that is not your problem

    If I were you, I would not spend a lot of time and money trying to trace the freehold owner of the upper maisonette and buying the freehold interest - that would just give you a "flying freehold" which has its own problems.

    Instead, I think this is a case where indemnity insurance is the more practical solution. You should consider taking out -
    - absent landlord indemnity insurance (in case there are existing breaches of the leaseholder's obligations)
    - maisonette indemnity (more likely to be needed by the lower maisonette, if they cannot force you to repair the upper maisonette)
    - contingent buildings insurance (if the freehold owner is meant to insure)
    - good leasehold indemnity (not needed if the leasehold title is already registered with absolute title)

    I hope this helps
    This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum


    • #3
      Re: DESPERATE: Missing freeholder - PURCHASE MISTAKE?

      Thanks for your help. This is what the vendor's solicitor told me to do. I get that the insurance can protect from the freeholder turning up to demand past ground rent - but I still can't extend the lease unless they can be traced or it goes to court.

      I have pulled out now based on this but now wondering if this is a mistake. Thanks for taking the time to reply, Justin.


      • #4
        Re: DESPERATE: Missing freeholder - PURCHASE MISTAKE?

        Sounds like astupid mistake by DOWN's previous solicitor - if it was a Tyneside/Criss-Crioss/Laing Maisonette scheme then the whole idea is that the freehold of one goes with the leasehold of the other and both should get mortgaged and should be passed on together.

        It was probably a factory conveyancing set up where the case handler didn't understand what was supposed to happen - the freehold of the other flat should have come free with the lease of the flat being bought. That solicitor will probably be sued for not sorting it out.
        RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
        As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.