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Freehold query - WWYD

(20 Posts)
SarfEasticated Mon 08-Dec-14 09:33:37

We live in the downstairs flat of a Victorian house and the freehold is held by our council. This has always worked fine before as they do the work pretty well. Our upstairs neighbour wants to buy the freehold as they want to extend into the roof and have had bad experiences getting the council to fix a fault in their wall. I feel a bit uneasy about this because a) the existing arrangement suits us and b) because if they can't get a repair done through the council I worry how they will project manage a roof conversion. I am also worried that a roof conversion will mean scaffolding in our garden and all kind of mess and noise. We are hoping to move soon so not sure if share of freehold would be a selling point or not? They are willing to pay the legal fees for the freehold. They are a nice couple but quite ineffectual and a bit on another planet. What would you do?

HaveToWearHeels Mon 08-Dec-14 15:41:56

If you are not comfortable just say you are not interested. As the saying goes "if it isn't broke don't fix it" !

MadeInChorley Mon 08-Dec-14 16:06:13

I'm confused by your post - are you jointly buying the freehold or are your upstairs neighbours?

OneStepCloser Mon 08-Dec-14 16:07:35

I did think Freehold flats were more desirable when buying, especially if the lease does not have long left on it?

HaveToWearHeels Mon 08-Dec-14 16:50:09

As I understand it, OP is downstairs, neighbour is upstairs and wants to extend into the loft and wants to jointly buy the freehold with the OP.
Yes freehold flats are more desirable, but a lot of people wanting a flat also don't want the hassle of a freehold and what it entails. If you jointly buy the freehold you are liable for repairs to the building which can be a right ball ache.

SarfEasticated Mon 08-Dec-14 17:00:14

Hi everyone - sorry to leave you in confusion - yes HaveToWearHeels you have the details perfectly, they want us to jointly by the freehold with them. There are only two flats in our building. I think the cost will be about £5k and I think they are willing to pay all of that, just to be able to do their loft conversion.
I am reticent because they are such numpties, and I don't really trust them to arrange building works etc done properly. At least the council know what they're doing.
I feel I'm being mean saying no, but if we do move maybe the next people will want to do it with them.

Panicmode1 Mon 08-Dec-14 17:22:57

Do you think that they might buy it anyway and make you their tenant? I'd rather have a share of freehold - makes it more valuable when you sell, and if you get good legal advice it would give you some control over their building work - rather than them having the freehold and being able to do (ish) what they like.....!

SarfEasticated Mon 08-Dec-14 17:37:42

I don't think they are able to go ahead without our agreement Panic <hopes>.

Ebayaholic Mon 08-Dec-14 17:39:55

Freehold flats are very difficult to mortgage, you will have to set up a properly constituted management company to administer the lease.

WhereYouLeftIt Mon 08-Dec-14 17:41:43

Presumably they feel the freeholder would refuse to allow the loft extension? I don't know if that is the case. Although the council could (not as the freeholder but as the council) refuse to give planning permission for the extension. Wouldn't it be more sensible for your neighbour to seek planning permission first, and then only look at the freehold should that stop the extension.

If you are planning to move soon, the length of time for their plans (freehold and extension) to come to fruition may well mean you've already moved by then.

theHowlatWooooooCorner Mon 08-Dec-14 17:42:30

Surely if you become joint freeholders, then you are jointly responsible for things such as roof repairs? What if their builder doesn't do a very good job of the loft conversion? Would you have any liability towards the cost of repairs?

PetraArkanian Mon 08-Dec-14 17:42:38

It is quite possible the current free holder won't give them permission to extend into the roof...or wants to charge them more than they want to pay!

if you do go into a share of freehold you will be entitled to be paid if you do agree to them going into the roof (no idea how much/how it's worked out). However you will also have to be involved in running the freehold company, and be responsible for costs of repair work. TBH if you are thinking of moving then say no.

SarfEasticated Mon 08-Dec-14 17:54:11

Thanks everyone - it doesn't seem to be a very attractive prospect does it. And I have no idea if they know whether they'll get permission to go into the roof. It all seems like loads more hassle for no benefit to us.

msfreud Mon 08-Dec-14 20:41:26

The biggest benefit of owning a share of freehold is that you can then extend your leases to 999 years for free - rather than paying thousands to a freeholder if you want to (need to) extend your lease (usually by the time it gets to about 85 years, or else you face much higher costs for extending it).

You will also no longer be paying ground rent, but this is often a very small amount anyway.

Yes, you will then be jointly liable for paying for repairs to the building but in my experience of having owned both a leasehold flat and a share of freehold flat in the past, the leasehold flat was much more expensive because the freeholder had a management company who really overcharged for things and paying the actual costs was much cheaper.

It does require a bit more effort when it comes to getting quotes for repairs etc. and it helps if you get along well with your neighbours you share the freehold with.

Getting a mortgage on a share of freehold flat is no problem, by the way. (Not to be confused with a "freehold flat" - in a share of freehold you all still have a lease.)

catyloopylou Mon 08-Dec-14 20:46:02

I've just completed on buying a share of the freehold of my flat. It's a similar situation in so far as it's a house conversion with 2 flats.

The other owners cannot buy the freehold unless more than 50% of the owners agree to buy, ie, both of you buy it. Also, you do not need to set up a management company to buy the freehold; you can do it jointly in both your names which means you won't have to file annual accounts.

There is a very useful website called the leasehold advisory service which has loads of information about leases and freeholds and what the process is for buying a freehold.

If you do consider buying it i suggest you consult a solicitor first for advice.

I am also having a loft extension and scaffolding will need to go up the full height of the house but only the poles were outside the ground and 1st floors, the wooden walkways were only at roof level. It's a bit messy and disruptive outside but our scaffolding was only up for 5 weeks. If any building work is being done the company doing it should guarantee the work so you shouldn't be responsible as joint freeholder for any problems relating to that.

The other owners may not need planning permission under the new permitted development regs but they will need consent from the freeholder but it's worth reading your lease to see what is in it re building works, although bear in mind that the terms of your lease may differ from theirs.

SarfEasticated Tue 09-Dec-14 18:40:33

Thanks for both giving me your advice * msfreud* catyloopylou - if we're going to be selling in a few months I don't really see why we do this would you? Our lease is 99 years

HaveToWearHeels Wed 10-Dec-14 14:56:24

If you are selling in a few months don't rock the boat. You could get into a long drawnn out process that could hold up your sale and also as you said up thread if your neighbours start the loft conversion who will want to buy yours will all that going on ?

SarfEasticated Wed 17-Dec-14 19:19:18

Have told them - feel mean - but what can we do? Don't want to get caught in legal matter if we are trying to sell. I do feel bad though...

HaveToWearHeels Wed 17-Dec-14 22:27:46

Don't feel bad, when you move you will never see them again. It's a big thing they were asking you to do, but only they would benefit !

SarfEasticated Thu 18-Dec-14 18:46:46

Ok havetowearheels you've persuaded me.

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