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Types of Ownership

There are four types of ownership or 'tenure' for property:

1. Freehold

If you buy a property freehold, it means you have full ownership of the property until you decide to sell it.

Freehold properties are usually houses with gardens.

2. Leasehold

If you buy a leasehold property, it means you have part ownership and the right to live there for a fixed time only - usually either 99 or 125 years (999 years or longer in Northern Ireland).

Leasehold properties are generally flats and maisonettes. A landlord owns the freehold of the building, but doesn't have access to your flat unless invited.

The value of a lease decreases with time, but you can usually extend your lease or buy a new one.

Many building societies and banks may have restrictions on granting mortgages where leases are below 70 years. An RICS member can give you more information about this.

You'll also probably have to pay ground rent on leasehold property, and if it's a flat or maisonette, you may have to pay a service charge to cover repairs and cleaning of shared areas.

Before you buy, a leasehold property, get your solicitor to check:

  • How much these extra charges are
  • Whether you have to pay them in advance
  • If a management company is responsible for collecting payment
  • Whether building maintenance is managed by the freeholder
  • Any future costs, such as re-roofing, exterior redecoration, replacement of lifts or communal heating boilers
  • A survey of a leasehold flat or maisonette will tell you who has responsibility for repairs and maintenance. An RICS member will ensure you get all the details from the landlord.

3. Commonhold

Leaseholders have the right to convert from leasehold to commonhold if they buy out the landlord, in both new and existing buildings.

Commonhold provides a different management structure for blocks of flats and other interdependent buildings with shared services and common areas.

Please note that commonhold does not exist in Northern Ireland, but leaseholders have a right to buy out their ground rent.

4. Shared ownership
Housing associations offer shared ownership as a part-buy part-rent way to own a property.

You pay a mixture of mortgage and subsidised rent, making the homes affordable for those on or below average incomes.

If you start to earn more, you can increase your shares in your home, and have the option of owning the property outright