Extending a Lease – FAQ

Did you know you may have the right in extending the lease on your flat by up to 90 years?

Most people know very little about the need to extend the lease on their flat and fact that they may be able to force the freeholder to grant a lease extension.  Many people only find our about such matters when they come to sell their leasehold flat. Others only really find out about the need to extend once their lease has dropped below 80 years and, by this point, the amount that they can expect to pay by way of a premium will be significantly more than they would have been liable to pay had they took action earlier.

What is a lease?

A lease is effectively a long term tenancy which is normally held over a flat.

Unless you own a share of freehold, you don’t own your flat out right – you’re simply paying to stay in it for a long time – the term of the lease.

A residential lease is normally initially granted for a period of 99 to 125 years.

If you don’t extend your lease, then it will simply expire and the interest in the flat will revert back to your landlord. This means that you have no lease to either extend or sell in the future.

NB the right to extend your lease only applies to what are known as long leasehold flats i.e. flats for which the lease was granted originally for at least 21 years.

What is the difference between freehold and leasehold?

A leasehold interest is a long term tenancy granted for a set period of time.

During this time you will have the right to live in and have undisturbed use of your property.

However inevitably the lease will come to an end and at the end of this period the ownership of the building will revert back to the landlord or the ‘freeholder’.

It is common for leaseholders to pay a ground rent (a monthly amount of rent) to the landlord.

In addition the leaseholder is liable to pay service charges which will normally cover any maintenance to the building. Flats and apartments are usually leasehold properties – houses are usually freehold, though you do come across the occasional leasehold house.

A freehold interest is the ownership of a property and the land it is situated on.
The only restrictions as to what you can do with your freehold property are found in law and are exercised through the local authority (such as planning permission granted by the local council).

In contrast, owners of leasehold property are normally subject to considerable limitations on what they can and cannot do. Those imitations are contained in the lease itself – and unlike say short-term leases – the assured short tenancy – long leases are not standard and vary considerably in what they allow and forbid – or allow only with the freeholder’s permission.

How can I take a physical look at my lease?

If you haven’t already got a copy of your lease (and your solicitor should have provided you with a copy when you bought the flat initially), you can obtain a copy of your lease from the Land Registry or your mortgagor. You may incur a fee in doing so. Ask your solicitor for more information on how to request this service.

So if you think are thinking about increasing the value of your property by extending the lease on your flat, please find below links to pages answering some more common questions that our clients raise to help you understand how the whole extended leasehold process actually works.

  1. Who can apply?
  2. Solicitors and surveyors
  3. How much will it cost?
  4. Informal lease extensions

Thinking about extending the lease on your flat? Contact our specialists today

    • call us free on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or
    • email us using the contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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