Freeholder and leaseholder obligations

Leaseholder obligations

1. Use language that people can understand!

There has historically been a tendency for some property lawyers to use language which is almost incomprehensible – a habit which annoys us enormously! Not only can the sentences be too long with inadequate punctuation but the vocabulary can be obtuse and recognisable words can be used in unrecognisable ways. Lawyers have developed an unshakeable reputation for using words such as ‘heretofore’ or ‘aforesaid’ and inserting Latin phrases which only serve to drive others to distraction.

The good news is most modern leases are not written in such a way and due to the Unfair Terms and Regulations, leases written after 1995 which are written in such an unintelligible way will not be enforceable.

2. Terms which unfairly burden consumers

The Office of Fair Trading forbids some terms which are deemed to unfairly encumber the consumer (or leaseholder) or unfairly benefit the supplier (or freeholder). Sometimes, efforts are made to sneak such unfair terms into long leases in particular.

An example often seen is a clause inserted at the end of the lease which requires the leaseholder to state that they have ‘read and understood’ everything. Given how long and complicated the lease can be, it is unreasonable to expect that this would be the case. Ultimately, inserting such a clause marks an attempt to trap the leaseholder so that should an argument arise, the freeholder and his solicitor can simply point to the fact the leaseholder claimed to have read and understood all terms in the lease. Another common tactic is to use a clause giving the freeholder the last word on whether the leaseholder or freeholder has carried out the necessary duties specified in the lease. Some leases will also include disproportionate penalties for breaches of lease terms.

Thankfully, the OFT has largely succeeded in stamping out such underhand tactics. However, given the danger of such unfair clauses, it is crucial leaseholders instruct specialist solicitors to protect their interests. A solicitor will also be able to advise you on whether the Landlord and Tenant Act which protects leaseholders in various ways.

Freeholder obligations

1. Respect quiet enjoyment and exclusive possession

It is crucial that the freeholder respects the leaseholders’ rights of ‘exclusive possession’ (the right to exclude others, the freeholder in particular, from the property) and ‘quiet enjoyment’ (the right to avoid interference from the freeholder provided that the property is being used legally) of the property.

The ‘right to enjoyment’ can be complex because the right only applies to breaches by the freeholder and their agent. Therefore, if the freeholder carried out noisy work in the building which disturbed you as the leaseholder, they are in breach of your right to quiet enjoyment. However, if another leaseholder plays loud music all night they cannot be breaching this right because they are not bound by it. Instead, you would need to take nuisance action against them.

2. Section 48 Notice

Section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 offers important protection to leaseholders as well. It exists to prevent freeholders simply ‘disappearing’ by failing to provide contact details for example in an attempt to shirk their obligations. Freeholders are legally obliged to provide leaseholders with a name and address in England or Wales through which they can be contacted. This address needn’t be a home or registered office (in the case of a property company); it could be a solicitor’s office or a property management company’s office. This can be particularly helpful for leaseholders whose freeholder has moved overseas.

This notice can simply be included in another document and the freeholder will not be able to claim that they never saw the notice if it is sent to the address listed: pleading ignorance is not a valid excuse. If the notice is not served, the leaseholder can withhold payment of rent arrears or service charges until the notice is provided.

3. Good Management

Freeholders are legally required to check that responsibilities as a manager are fulfilled in the proper manner. If a leaseholder believes that the freeholder is not fulfilling their management duties they can take their freeholder to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) which will make a judgement and can punish or demand action from the freeholder. This process can be drawn out and expensive but is better than leaseholders taking matters into their own hands by refusing to pay service charges for example, which could place them in breach of their lease.

Dial 01722 422300 for expert advice on leaseholder rights and obligations

It is crucial that both leaseholders and freeholders are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities. For more information on this complicated area of property law, call our leasehiold extension specialists on 01722 422300, or

Send us an email via the contact form below.

    Bristol Lease Extension Solicitors

    Do you own a leasehold flat in Bristol? If so, you should be thinking about extending your lease. Those who delay lease extensions end up paying a heavy price – so get in touch with our solicitors today to get yours out of the way.

    Bristol is currently home to more than 437,500 people, and it’s growing all the time. As a vibrant cultural hub, Bristol has an increasing rental and leasehold market with more and more people looking to buy a home in the city. In fact, the population has boomed from just 380,615 at the time of the 2001 census, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the UK.

    The growing demand for properties in Bristol has meant that buying a leasehold flat or apartment has become increasingly popular – enabling, in particular, young people and couples to get on the housing ladder when perhaps they simply can’t manage the expense of buying a house.

    Want to know more about lease extension question? Call our specialist solicitors on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice – with no strings attached.


    Extending your lease increases the value of your flat

    The shorter the remaining length of your lease, the less valuable your property will be should you decide to sell.

    Therefore, the longer your leave your leasehold extension, the more value you lose on the property. By contrast, properties with very long leases will hold far greater value and may even fetch a similar price to a flat with joint freehold. Extending your lease makes your flat easy to sell

    Flats with short leases are often very hard to sell.

    Potential buyers are almost always more likely to buy flats with longer leases. One of the reasons for that is that many lenders simply won’t lend on short leases. So if, for example you let your lease drop as low as 50, you may find that the only buyers able to purchase your property are cash buyers – and they’ll be looking for a real bargain and looking to drive your price down

    Extend your Lease and pay zero ground rent

    If you extend your lease you will only have to pay what is known as “a peppercorn rent”  which is effectively zero. Most leases have clauses allowing for regular increases in ground rent – often every 10 years but sometimes more often. And older leases also tend to have much bigger permitted increases in those regular ground rent reviews. So paying a peppercorn rent can save you a lot of money


    If you instruct one of our lease extension solicitors you will be giving yourself the best chance of securing a fair deal for your lease extension. Many generalist lawyers today are tempted to experiment with lease extension work only to make serious mistakes. By contrast, our solicitors understand the complexities of this area of law and can help you with the following:

    • Managing the lease extension timetable: strict deadlines apply to lease extension work so it is important that your solicitor is able to manage the process and collect all relevant information in time

    • Finding a surveyor: it is crucial that you find a reputable surveyor to value your lease. Our solicitors will be able to put you in touch with experts

    • Dealing with difficult landlords: Many landlords either refuse to co-operate or deliberately impede negotiations. The aim of this is to let your lease run down below the crucial 80 year mark when prices for extension rise dramatically. Should they continue to act obstructively, your solicitor will be able to apply to the First-Tier Property Tribunal

    • Drafting legal documents and typing up loose ends post-completion


    If you instruct the specialist lease extension team and Bonallack & Bishop you will receive advice from acknowledged experts. And we are members of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Solicitors.

    Our three-strong team of leasehold extension experts contains a wealth of experience and would be happy to help you with your property –  and lease extension and freehold purchase is all they do .

    How much does lease extension cost? Click here to find out


    Remember that the cost of extending your lease goes up with every month that passes.

    So take action and contact us today to start the lease extension process. We needn’t see you in person and should be able to complete your lease extension by phone, email and Skype.

    • Just call us on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for a FREE initial phone consultation and a FREE quote for your lease extension, OR
    • Complete the email contact form below

      Extending the lease on a house – FAQ

      If you own a leasehold house you are likely to be able to extend your lease – however there are various advantages to buying the freehold as you will see from the answers to the following frequently asked questions.

      Am I eligible for lease extension on my house?

      The chances are that you will be eligible for lease extension – however there is a chance that you won’t be. All leaseholders must have owned the house for at least 2 years and those who have owned the house for less than 2 years will not be eligible. Your eligibility may also be affected if you already have a business lease, if the original lease was for less than 21 years, or if you have sublet a property with a lease under 21 years. You should also know that you can only extend your lease once and this must be done before the lease ends. Therefore, if you have extended your lease before, or your lease has run down you may not be able to get an extension.

      Different rules apply to house lease extension and flat/apartment lease extensions. Flat leases can be extended for up to 90 years whereas house leases require 2-year ownership and can only be extended to 50 years.

      Are prospective buyers put off by short leases?

      A house with a lease below 70 years is likely to be difficult to sell. Potentials buyers will usually struggle to get a mortgage if the lease is short and they are often reluctant to wait 2 years before they can extend the lease. It is therefore in your interests to extend the lease – it will add value to your property. Make sure you apply for your extension before your lease runs out though because otherwise you may lose the right entirely.

      I don’t know who my freeholder is? How do I find out?

      If you are unaware who your freeholder is you should ask the Land Registry to find out for you.

      How do I go about extending the lease on my house?

      You have two options for your lease extension.

      • Either you attempt to do this informally by making contact with your freeholder and negotiating a price, or
      • You make a formal statutory request for lease extension which involves a strict procedure. You will need to pay the legal fees of both you and the freeholder as well as valuation fees involved.

      Is it best to buy the freehold of my house instead?

      Very often buying the freehold of your house is a good idea because it rules out the need for house owners to pay service charges or ground rent.

      Buying the freehold is also likely to increase the value of your home and allows you to make repairs without consent. Buying the freehold can be expensive though, and not all leaseholders will be able to do it.

      What will extending the lease on my house cost?

      The cost of lease extensions vary depending on the property and the length of the lease. When it comes to house leases, you do not need to pay a fee to the freeholder like you do with flat lease extensions. You will have to cover the freeholder’s legal fees as well as your own. This can add up but it is still usually cheaper than purchasing the freehold.

      Will my ground rent arrangements change?

      Ground rent will usually go up following a lease extension and will come into effect once the current lease expires. The new amount will be based on the property value at the time of the extension and can go up again after 25 years. If an agreement over the rent payments cannot be reached a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) may be needed to fix an amount.

      My lease has ended – what now?

      Once your lease runs down, you technically cease to be the house owner and instead become an assured tenant paying rent to the freeholder who in effectively becomes your landlord. In this situation you will still have rights as an assured tenant but these will not be as extensive as the rights of a leaseholder.

      You may find that you are capable of negotiating informally with the freeholder to extend your lease however they will be under no obligation to grant the extension or even negotiate. You therefore need to get legal advice as soon as possible because if your lease runs down you may lose your financial stake.

      Extending the lease on my house – Do I need a specialist solicitor?

      That’s a really easy question – the answer is yes. You need to appreciate that very few conveyancing or property solicitors come across lease extension more than once in a blue moon – and sadly, in our experience, many solicitors with little experience of lease extension work, struggle to do a good job for their clients when it comes to extending a lease. When you add in the fact that leasehold houses are relatively unusual these days [though I was surprised to find when researching for this blog, that there are estimated to still be around 200,000 houses in England and Wales which are owned under a long leasehold, though many of these are very expensive properties based in central London] – and far less common than leasehold flats, you understand why when looking to arrange a lease extension on your house, whether it’s your home or the property is rented out, you really do need a solicitor who knows what they’re doing.

      Our lease extension team do nothing but lease extension and enfranchisement work – so you can rely on them to provide you with the advice you need.

      Thinking of extending the lease on a house? We can help

      Our lease enfranchisement and lease extension solicitors can help house owners with lease extensions of leasehold enfranchisement. So, if you are a house owner looking for expert legal advice:

      • Call us now us free on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544, or
      • Complete the contact form below.

        Bradford Lease Extension Solicitors

        Leaving it too long to extend your lease can lead to massive expense in the long run so it is important to start the process sooner rather than later. If you live in Bradford and you are looking to extend the lease on your flat, the dedicated lease extension team at Bonallack & Bishop can help.


        Your lease extension solicitor will need to understand the complexities of lease extension work and be aware of the various deadlines involved. Furthermore, your solicitor will need links with expert surveyors who will value the lease. These things require expertise and as a result it is crucial that your lease extension solicitor is a specialist.

        Whilst the vast majority of landlords are very respectable, you may find yourself locked in negotiations with an unscrupulous landlord. If your lease runs below 80 years it costs far more to extend it and some landlords will attempt to stall negotiations so that the lease runs below this critical period. Lease extensions experts will recognise such scheming and be able to apply to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal if necessary.


        The word ‘specialist’ is bandied about a lot these days so it can be difficult to work our whether or not a solicitor genuinely specialises in lease extension work. We can take the guesswork out of choosing a lease extension solicitor because we are accredited experts. As well as being members of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners we are featured acknowledged as experts on Leasehold Advisory Website.

        What’s more, we have a four strong team who only do lease extension, leasehold enfranchisement and right to manage company work – nothing else!


        We act for clients throughout England and Wales. Our clients need not be able to meet us in office because we can see your lease extension through from start to finish, keeping in contact through Skype, email or over the phone.

        So if you are considering a lease extension in Bradford, for a free quote, to receive initial advice or to arrange a consultation, simply dial 01722 422300, or email us using the contact form below:

          London Lease Extension Solicitors

          Close to 50% of all Londoners live in flats – a figure far higher than for the rest of the UK. If you own a flat, you will need to extend your lease at some point. What many people don’t realise is that the longer they leave their lease extension, the more expense they face.


          Contrary to popular belief, lease extension can be a highly complex process. As a result, it is crucial that you instruct a specialist lease extension solicitor and not just a property lawyer who has dabbled in leasehold extensions at some stage in the past. Not only is the legislation surrounding lease extensions convoluted but there are crucial deadlines which must not be missed.

          Whilst many landlords are perfectly respectable, a significant number are unfortunately less virtuous. In order to deal with questionable landlords, it is important to instruct a specialist solicitor and you should bear in mind that landlords are likely to instruct specialist lawyers themselves. Landlords will often stall over lease extension negotiations in order to let your lease run down to 80 years (at which point the cost of lease extension increases dramatically). A specialist solicitor will be able to represent you in negotiations and if your landlord is deliberately bringing matters to a standstill your solicitor will be able to take them to the First-Tier Property Tribunal


          Various legal documents will need to be drafted, surveyors appointed and information collected as part of the lease extension process. These things can be done more expeditiously and cost-effectively with one of our solicitors on your side.

          The three-strong team of lease extension solicitors has experience stretching back over a quarter of a century and we therefore have the experience and know-how you require for your lease extension.

          We are also members of Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP), a body dedicated to specialist lease extension and and freehold enfranchisement surveyors and solicitors.


          We understand that clients in London are unlikely to be able to visit us in office and this is no problem whatsoever. In most cases we can interact with clients purely through phone, email or Skype.

          To arrange a consultation or receive a quote for your lease extension, email us using the contact form below, or call 01722 422300.

            You’re entitled to choose your solicitor

            The need for a lease extension often only becomes clear when you try to sell your flat – and find, if perhaps you have got, say, 65 years left on the lease, that your purchaser struggles to get a mortgage – or worse still, potential purchasers are driven off because of the shortness of the remaining term.

            Furthermore lease extensions are complex and few residential conveyancers have much idea about how to navigate through the complex leasehold extension process. I suspect that there is even a significant minority of conveyancing lawyers who have not even heard of leasehold extensions! So whilst it always feel comfortable with your solicitor, it is even more important that you pick the right solicitor when considering extending your lease.

            The issue of choosing a property solicitor has raised its head in the media recently when the Sunday Times reported that the estate agent chain, Connells [which is actually owned by the Skipton Building Society], came under criticism for purportedly attempting to put pressure on a buyer at a Barnard Marcus branch to make use of its own in-house financial and legal services. In this particular case, the buyer had an existing mortgage offer and wish to use his own conveyancing solicitor – but alleges that Barnard Marcus attempted to ‘strong-arm’ him into making use of its own legal services, claiming that Barnard Marcus offered him a remarkable discount of £5,000 discount in the event that he chose to instruct their in-house services. Barnard Marcus told the Sunday Times [which had run the story under the headline ” Beware estate agents’ hard sell tactics”] that it apologised if any purchaser felt that they were under any undue pressure to make use of own conveyancing or financial services, adding that use of its own services was entirely optional.

            Sadly, this will be a familiar tale to many conveyancing solicitors. I’ve personally had to make complaints on more than one occasion to one of the estate agents chains (Fox & Sons) over the level of pressure they put on one of our own vulnerable clients to use their conveyancing services.

            But why are chain estate agents so very keen on clients using them, rather than independent solicitors? The answer is simple – a financial bung. Not only do many chain estate agents make it compulsory for their staff to strongly push their own solicitors but in many cases they also pay commission to those staff who successfully get buyers or sellers to use those in-house services. What’s interesting is that estate agents don’t have to reveal to buyers or sellers. The receipt of commission for recommending their own in-house services [which of course makes their advice far from independent] – in fact contrast to solicitors. Solicitors are under highly strictly enforced rules to reveal fully in writing to clients any referral fee they receive.

            What’s more, the chains tend to use conveyancing factories – where you’ll be dealing with someone at a call centre nowhere near you – what’s more these conveyancing factories usually employ very low level and unqualified staff – that’s why they can do conveyancing at such low rates. In our experience, very few users of these factories received good service and the vast majority, vow never to do so again – preferring to choose their own independent property solicitors.

            So don’t forget, when it comes to choosing lease extension solicitors [or indeed , solicitors for any property transaction] – the decision is yours, and yours alone.

            For advice to trust from specialist Lease Extension Solicitors, call us today

            • For FREE initial phone advice, with no obligation, call us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544, or
            • Send us an email via the contact form below.

              Lease extension team complete

              Martyn Davies highly experienced commercial property and lease extension solicitorFollowing my blog entry a few weeks ago about the appointment of a new lease extension solicitor, I’m really pleased to confirm that we’ve now completed the recruitment of our team. Martyn Davies, a highly experienced commercial property and lease extension solicitor has now formally joined us having been with this as a consultant solicitor for the last five months – we were so impressed by him, that we asked him to stay permanently and thankfully he agreed.

              Martyn will conduct a mixed caseload of commercial property, lease enfranchisement and lease extension work – working alongside our other new leasehold extension specialist, Sam Davies, and our dedicated leasehold extensions paralegal. Sam, however, will be responsible for all of the firm’s right to manage company work.

              Such is the rapid growth of our lease extension advice work, that ready to work we do on behalf of tenants is equal to our residential conveyancing work. Our plan is to increase the number of tenants we help with extending a lease over the next three years by up to 300%. Now that we have finally managed to recruit the right solicitors, we have got the full specialist team in place, and as a result I’m confident that will be able to hit our lease extensions target.

              For Lease Extension advice to trust – contact us today

              Our expert Lease Extension team can advise you wherever you live in England or Wales, and we don’t even need to see you – taking your instructions by e-mail, phone and Skype video:

              • Just call us on [01722] 422300 for a FREE initial phone consultation and a FREE quote for your lease extension
              • Complete the contact form below