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What's the difference between freehold and leasehold properties?

Owning a freehold means you own the property and the land it’s on. Owning a leasehold means you own the property but not the land.

When you own a freehold property, you're responsible for both the property and the land, with a high degree of control over it. This includes settling any disagreements with neighbours.

Owning a leasehold means you’re a tenant, and whoever owns the freehold is your landlord. You’ll be required to pay your landlord rent and may need to refer disputes with noisy neighbours, or issues concerning the public spaces and repairs, to the freeholder.

Depending on the terms of your lease, you may be obliged to pay:

It’s more common for leasehold properties to be flats and your property may share certain common areas and responsibilities.

How long does a lease last for on a leasehold?

Lease terms vary but are commonly for more than 90 years and can go up to 999 years. The remaining term of the lease can have an impact on the value of the property and its suitability as a security for a mortgage.

While it may be possible to extend a lease or to make changes to its terms, this can be expensive and time consuming.

Can you buy the freehold of your property?

It’s possible to buy the freehold of your property, but the process can be complicated and it’s worth seeking legal advice.

Precautions to take

Whether you buy freehold or leasehold, it’s always advisable to get your solicitor or licensed conveyancer to look at the legal title, including the terms of any lease before you jump in.

Details of most properties in England and Wales are available through HM Land Registry, and in Scotland through the Registers of Scotland.