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Freeholder is absent and want to remodel

(1 Post)
kleto Mon 17-Apr-17 16:46:44

Two years ago we bought our very first flat. I'm from the USA so entered into a leaseholder arrangement with absentee freeholder a bit naive (more like clueless!).

Given freeholder has been absent for over 9 years now, I thought I could just buy the freehold. However, that's before I met my downstairs neighbours (it's a Victorian townhouse with two flats - I'm on first floor). They are not interested in working together to buy the freehold (or much else).

I'd really like to do some remodelling - take down 2 walls (non load bearing) to open up kitchen, etc. I've talked to 2 solicitors - both saying that if I've tried the following I should be fine and can just move ahead with the work: contact freehold via registered mail with no success (done), checked land registry freehold title for address, etc. (done), check probate registry for deaths - found record of deaths for people with same names in similar area, but how can I know if that's the right people?

I'm stumped. Has anyone had similar experiences? Is there an amount of time (say 10 years) that if ground rent hasn't been collected or something that freehold can be declared null or something? Is there any way of getting around the non-interested neighbours? What if I proceed with the remodelling and just buy indemnity insurance? Any guidance would be so appreciated.

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