Leaseholders - private housing

Additional rights of long leaseholders

Information that you are entitled to as a long leaseholder

Your freeholder must supply you with an address in England or Wales where you can serve notices on them. If they live abroad, they must still supply an address in England or Wales. Until your freeholder has complied with this requirement, you will not be liable to pay ground rent or service charges.

lf your freeholder formally demands rent or service charges from you, it must contain an address for service of notices in England or Wales, otherwise you will not be liable to pay the service charges.

Under The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, the freeholder cannot legally recover ground rent from you unless he has formally demanded it from you in writing and given you at least 30 days notice.

You should always seek legal advice before you withhold any ground rent or service charges.

The right to buy the freehold to your property

If the freeholder wishes to dispose of an interest in the property (eg sell part or the whole building), they may have a legal obligation to offer that interest to you and other qualifying tenants first. This is known as The Right of First Refusal. Failure to comply with this requirement, where it applies, is a criminal offence.

Deadlines have to be met before the sale can be completed. If you wish to exercise this right or feel that you should have been able to, you should get legal advice.

If the freeholder does sell without letting you know, you can force the new freeholder to sell to you, at the price paid for the property.

If a new landlord takes over ownership of the property, they must give you their name and address in writing before the next rent is due or within two months of the change of ownership (whichever is the later). Otherwise they will be committing a criminal offence.

The right to extend your lease

Under The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1996 long leaseholders can acquire additional rights in their property. Leaseholders can now:

  • jointly acquire the freehold interest in their building, along with other leaseholders in that building (known as enfranchisement)
  • individually pay their freeholder to extend their existing lease by a period of 90 years

As long as certain qualifying conditions are met, Leaseholders can use these rights even if the freeholder does not agree.

If you are interested in buying the freehold or extending your lease, you should get advice from the housing advice service, a solicitor or any other advice agency.