ASK THE EXPERT
by Steve Moir Director at Hennings Moir Estate Agents in Saltash
- I viewed a property recently which had something called a flying freehold. What exactly is this, and is it a problem?
- A flying freehold applies where part of one property – for example an upper room or loft space – physically extends over another. This means that the owner of a flying freehold does not actually own the structure which supports that part of his or her property. They are therefore entirely dependent upon the goodwill of the owner of the adjoining property for its upkeep and structural integrity. A flying freehold can also exist where part of a property sits over a communal access area, like an archway.
Of course, this sort of thing happens all the time with houses that have been converted into separate flats, or purpose-built apartment blocks. The difference is that these are invariably leasehold, so there is always a freeholder somewhere who retains the power to compel each leaseholder to maintain their part of the communal fabric.
By contrast, no-one can compel a freeholder to do anything!
This may sound drastic, but in practice most flying freeholds have been around for donkeys’ years without causing anyone any trouble. However – precisely because they are a departure from the norm, and something of an anomaly – solicitors quite rightly tend to be rather wary of them. Banks and building societies even more so. Fortunately, they’re relatively rare in most parts of the country these days. Nevertheless, they do persist in some areas, particularly with older properties.
So…what happens if you’re a cash buyer, and the home of your dreams turns out to have a flying freehold? What then?
Well, while it’s undeniable that it can complicate matters, and your solicitor will certainly want to check it out very thoroughly indeed, the fact is that most of the difficulties associated with flying freeholds are easily surmountable – for example, by taking out indemnity insurance.
So, if you’re faced with a flying freehold on a property that you really can’t resist, my advice would be to grit your teeth and go for it.
Article by Stephen Moir a Director at Hennings Moir Estate Agents in Saltash
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