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Residential Leases

 All properties in England and Wales are either leasehold or freehold.


Freehold means you own the property outright so you are responsible for all the repairs and maintenance.


Leasehold means you own the property for the time specified in the lease, and you are granted the right to live there during that time by the freeholder. Many leases are originally granted for up to 999 years, although existing leases are usually shorter.


With a rapidly expanding population and shortage of housing, since the Second World War, many houses have been converted into flats. According to the Office of National Statistics, there are over 800,000 properties where houses have been converted into flats in England.


Leasehold conveyancing is more complex than freehold conveyancing because of the need to agree and document the raft of on-going responsibilities and liabilities between the leaseholder and the freeholder, as set out in the lease.  This is where inexperienced conveyancers can get into difficulty.  More claims are made against solicitors in relation to residential property transactions than any other area of law, and most of these arise from leasehold property.  Defective leases are unfortunately extremely common; it is therefore a mistake to skimp on legal advice. 


Mortgage lenders have specific policies about the remaining length of leases they will lend on and it may be that the lease will need to be extended or for there to be an agreement to extend from the freeholder at a set premium, before you can proceed.  This type of issue can seriously delay the whole transaction if not addressed early on.


A lease is a diminishing asset. Long leases of flats and sometimes houses, for which a premium is paid, are usually granted for 99 or 125 years. When the remaining term falls below about 70 or 80 years concerns creep in about whether the property will provide adequate mortgage security.


A leaseholder has a right to acquire an additional 90 years on the term of the lease on payment of an additional premium.  If the premium cannot be agreed with the freeholder the leaseholder may serve a formal notice and if necessary have the issue decided by a tribunal.


We can advise you when you are:


  • buying and selling leasehold property;
  • extending leases, either individually or collectively. We can act for both tenants and landlords in these circumstances; and
  • acquiring the freehold of a property.


Our dedicated team of residential property lawyers specialise in property and nothing else – no debt collection, no wills, no litigation, just residential property. 


We are accredited under the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), the mark of excellence awarded to law firms who meet the highest standards for conveyancing transactions. CQS is designed to introduce consistent quality standards throughout the conveyancing process and accreditation is hard to achieve. The scheme has the support of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies Association and the Association of British Insurers.


What you can expect from us


  •  A clear step by step explanation of the conveyancing process
  •  Transparency and clarity about our fees and charges
  •  Regular updates on the progress of your transaction
  •  To be treated fairly, politely and professionally at all times; and
  •  Consistent quality at all stages of the process.




For more information please contact:
Bells Solicitors Limited.   Registered in England and Wales no. 07827988.   Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.   SRA number 569030.   VAT registration number 137595285