Housing

Residential leasehold

This section sets out Communities and Local Government's policy responsibility for residential leasehold issues. It includes a summary of the information available for stakeholders, including links to key publications and websites.

Introduction

There are different tenures or categories of residential ownership of property in England and Wales. The most widely known are freehold and leasehold ownership. The information contained in this section is mainly concerned with long leasehold properties, where the lease was first granted for more than 21 years. Communities and Local Government has policy responsibility for residential leasehold issues.  

Anyone who buys a house will almost always be buying the freehold, that is they will own the property (including the land) outright. Most house owners are freehold owners.

However, it is possible to buy the leasehold of a house. Such houses are mainly found in the north and the south-west of England but are also available in London and other parts of the country. Anyone who buys a flat or maisonette will also normally be buying a leasehold interest, although an alternative tenure for properties such as flats known as commonhold was introduced in 2004.  

Generally for leasehold, the building and the land are owned by the freeholder (otherwise known as the landlord/lessor), who grants someone else the right to live in and use the property for a specified number of years. This is done by granting them a lease, and the person it is granted to is called the lessee, leaseholder or the tenant.  
Leaseholders' have a number of rights regarding their property which have been improved over the years, the latest reforms being part of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (the 2002 Act).  Information about these rights can be found under Contacts and further information.

As part of the 2002 Act, a new tenure known as commonhold was introduced. This came into effect in September 2004 as an alternative to leasehold and is for interdependent properties such as flats, allowing the flat (or unit) for example, to effectively be held on a freehold basis.

The way that commonhold works is fundamentally different from leasehold, therefore advice on this tenure should be sought from: Ministry of Justice, Land Law Team, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ. Tel. 020 3334 3555.

Communities and Local Government's policy on Leasehold

The Department seeks to ensure that there is a framework in place that allows residential leasehold to work effectively.

Key facts and figures

The Survey of English Housing for 2007/08 indicates that there were 14.6 million owner occupying households. Of the 14.6 million owner occupying households identified 0.6 million were leasehold houses and one million were leasehold flats.

Research and statistics about leasehold

The Department publishes statistics on leasehold properties as part of The Survey of English Housing, which merged with the English House Condition Survey in April 2008. Statistics on leasehold can be found in the owner occupiers section of Housing in England 2007/08 published September 2009.  

Contacts and further information

Free initial advice and information on residential leasehold issues can be obtained from:

The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE)
2nd floor, 31 Worship Street
London
EC2A 2DX
Telephone. 020 7374 5380 (local rates: 0845 345 1993)
Fax. 020 7373 5373
Email. info@lease-advice.org  
Website. www.lease-advice.org  (external link)

LEASE is a body funded by Government to give free initial advice on a wide range of residential leasehold issues and is staffed with officers with legal training.

The legislation, commencement orders and regulations in respect of residential leasehold and in particular the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 can be found on the OPSI website www.opsi.gov.uk (external link)
Other queries on residential leasehold can be addressed to Communities and Local Government at leaseref@communities.gsi.gov.uk .

Key words: Residential leasehold, Commonhold, service charges, administration charges, ground rent, enfranchisement, lease extension, forfeiture.

In this section

My favourites