Not that attractive after all

by misskrupt

Are you still cringing after reading Donna Fergusson’s article on her leasehold flat? We were cringing for few days. And to top it up around that time we spoke to our friend who said ‘Check with your solicitor if loft really belongs to the flat’.
That got us thinking.

So what is leasehold? The best answer is ‘glorified tenancy’. 
There is still a landlord, the freeholder. He is The Boss and he decides how much you have to pay rent on the land your flat stands on. There is also management company involved, which decides how much to pay the gardener (or if to hire one in the first place), how much to charge for cleaning, insurance, electricity and all that hard and difficult admin work necessary to run the estate.
You, owners of the flat have got no saying in how the estate is managed.
Of course, you can choose the colour of paint you paint your bedroom with, carpets and tiles but the list of things you can not do is longer. You cannot say ‘insurance is too high, lets have a look at what we are paying for, or oh, perhaps this terrorist clause is not really necessary now’.
You also can not put new windows in without written consent from the landlord. You can not demolish that annoying wall between kitchen and lounge, keep animals, change carpet for wood panels and so on and so on, without the written consent from the landlord. 
And the loft doesn’t belong to you, although there might be access to it from your flat. 

It is tenancy all over again!

Clue is in the name: leasehold – you are leasing the right to live in the flat.

Another upsetting fact about leasehold is the length remaining on the lease. One would think that with 83 years there is nothing to worry about, we could leave this flat to our grandchildren and they could have little bit of fun in here but no, this is a very dangerous place to be. And definitely can become an expensive one. Freeholders are not charities, they are in this world to make money and so they won’t make it easy for owners to extend their leases.
Unfortunately most, if not all, of newly build British flats are leaseholds. And these are the cheapest flats out there. ‘Great for first time buyers’ these are being advertised as. Great for people who don’t have much money, much deposit and knowledge. I do hope government would look into this and change laws. Actually, that’s not true, I hope they dissolve leasehold altogether.
One thing to remember is that flats that are share of freehold also have leases. These regulate how the building is maintained etc. but as name suggests one has got share in decision making.

And don’t let any estate agent tell you that ‘this flat hasn’t got a share of freehold because there is a lease, it is a leasehold property’. Yes, one said this to me recently. But I’ll leave this story for later…