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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10458
Experience:  LLB(HONS) 23 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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I am buying a leasehold flat after selling my freehold house. However the freeholde

Customer Question

Hello I am buying a leasehold flat after selling my freehold house. However the freeholder was unaware that he was the freeholder until my solicitors did their searches. Thew flat was originally built in the 1980's and had a property developer and managing agent who arranged a peppercorn annual rent. However, the sellers of the flat who have lived there for seven years have never had a visit from the freeholder in the 7 years they have lived there, and indeed there has not been a landlord visiting the flat (s) it is in a block of four flats;and neither have any of the other owners or tenants of the flats for over twenty years. Surely this means that an absent landlord of f this length of time must have forfeited his rights to the lease as far as the law is concerned. The rents of one peppercorn per year have never been collected and my solicitors have taken an indemnity insurance policy out for me as the lease is incomplete and the search of the title deeds had not been able to fi
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

I am Al and am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

Do you know who has been organising the block Buildings Insurance/ maintenance of the building and common parts?

Kind Regards

Al

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I do not know but the sellers tell me that everyone does/their own maintenance of the building, garages and parking spaces, of which I will have one of. I will not have a garage although a previous owner applied for planning permission for a garage to be built in the 1980's which was accepted by the council, although I think that will have lapsed now.

The copy of the lease and subsequent leases say that I must inform the freeholder of any changes I might wish to make and provide plans for them, yet they have been absent landlords for over twenty years, providing no maintenance whatsoever and collecting no peppercorn rents.My solicitors or conveyancers cannot tell me much because they are on-line agents based in Leeds so have no local knowledge.I

tried to have a consultation with a local firm of solicitors but they cannot help me because of their ethical code and I am contracted already to a firm Blacks online in Leeds.

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hi Angela,

Thanks for your reply.

The mere fact that the Freeholder has not been physically present for the last 20 years does not mean they have in any way forfeited their right to the Freehold. Likewise, a peppercorn rent means merely 5 pence and it is not normal for a Freeholder to collect such rent as it is a waste of time and effort for them, and the fact it has not been collected does not mean they have forfeited their ownership of the Freehold.

I am not sure exactly, therefore, what your main concern is?

If you could let me know, I will gladly assist further.

I will be going to bed in a short while but will be back online first thing in the morning.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Al

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Al. My main concern is whether the freeholder is likely to agree to my request to build a small conservatory at the rear (in the garden and path are to the rear) as I will be very upset if they will not. I would be making an improvement to the property as it would only take up a small space in the garden area. There is an upstairs (first floor tenant) and I would of course need to have permission from her, although I can't see it affecting her view or light.

I have never owned a leasehold property before and just need to know my rights. The size of any conservatory would be less than 30 sq.feet so I understand I would not need planning permission.

I do not mind living in a leasehold home if I can just make small alterations.

Thanks ***** *****

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hi Angela,

Thanks for your reply.

If the Lease does state that the Landlord's/Freeholder's consent is required for any structural alterations or extensions (and nearly every Lease has such a requirement), then I'm afraid you will need to approach them to seek consent.

Indeed, some Leases do state that no extensions are permitted, full stop, so you should check the wording of the Lease with your Solicitor.

As I have said in my earlier post, the Landlord's absence does not mean they have given up any rights they have under the Lease and you would only be able to claim they are an "an absent Landlord", if you did not know who the Landlord is or if the Landlord is known, that you have not been able to track down their physical location.

I would therefore suggest that you/your Solicitor contact the Landlord now and seek their consent, before you exchange Contracts.

I hope this helps and sets out the legal position to you.

Good luck!

Kind Regards

Al

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