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Freehold Vs Leasehold; The Basics Buyers Need to Know

Sale Highlights   |   October 20, 2023   |   Wright & Co Estate Agents


When you’re searching for a property to purchase in the UK, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to opt for a leasehold or a freehold property. Although these terms may seem like jargon, they significantly affect your ownership rights as well as your financial obligations and long-term plans for your new property. 

To make an informed decision, it’s crucial to understand the differences between the two. Below we have covered all of the basics you need to know about freehold and leasehold properties.

What is a Freehold Property?

When you purchase a freehold property, you will own the property and the land it’s built on outright. This means you are the ‘freeholder’ and will have full control over the property, subject to any planning permissions and legal obligations. This is often considered the simpler, more straightforward form of ownership. Most houses in the UK are freehold properties. 

Advantages of Freehold

  • Complete Control – As a freeholder, you have full control over the property and the land it’s built on. You will be able to make home improvements without having to get permission, as long as they fall under permitted development.
  • No Annual Fees – Since you own the property, you won’t have any ground rent or service charges. You won’t have to pay a certain amount of money each year to the owner of the land your property is built on. 
  • Long-Term Security – You will own the property outright indefinitely, providing financial stability. There are no leases to worry about that will run out in the future. 

Disadvantages of Freehold

  • Full Responsibility – As you own the property and the land, you will be responsible for maintaining both. This means you will have to pay all repair and maintenance costs, which can add up over time. 
  • Potential for Regulatory Constraints – Although you have the freedom to renovate your property, planning permission and building regulations can still limit what you do.
  • Higher Upfront Costs – Typically, freehold properties have a higher initial purchase price. This is usually because they are houses rather than flats. 

What is a Leasehold Property?

Leasehold ownership is more complicated. As a ‘leaseholder’, you will own the property, but not the land it’s built on. The land will be owned by the freeholder. This means you will essentially lease the land for a set number of years. Once the lease term ends, ownership returns to the freeholder unless you extend the lease. Lots of flats in the UK are leasehold properties.

Advantages of Leasehold

  • Lower Initial Costs – Since leasehold properties are usually flats, they can be less expensive to purchase upfront than freehold properties. 
  • Less Responsibility – Generally, the freeholder will be responsible for maintaining communal areas, so they will handle things like cleaning and repairs on your behalf. The freeholder will also deal with problems such as noisy neighbours. 
  • Accessibility – Leasehold properties tend to be more common in built-up, urban areas. If you’re moving to a town centre or a city centre, you may find it easier to find a leasehold property to purchase. 

Disadvantages of Leasehold

  • Ongoing Costs – You will have additional fees to pay, such as ground rent and service charges. In some circumstances, depending on your time of ownership, you may have to pay for a lease extension too and this can be very expensive. 
  • Limited Control – Often, to make any significant modifications to your property, you will need to get permission from the freeholder. There may also be restrictions in place that prevent you from having pets or smoking inside, for example. 
  • Difficulty Selling – Since the lease will get shorter and shorter as the years pass, this can sometimes make it harder to sell your property. It can also reduce the value of your property. You may have to pay for a lease extension to find a buyer. 

Key Questions to Ask

Before committing to the purchase of a leasehold property, there are some vital questions to ask an estate agent or a seller;

  • What is the remaining length of the lease?
  • Are there any restrictions on property modifications?
  • What are the annual costs, such as service charges and ground rent?
  • Is there an option to purchase the freehold later? 
  • How is the building’s insurance managed?

Looking for Reliable Estate Agents near Much Hadham?

Choosing between leasehold and freehold is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when purchasing a property. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and you should carefully consider which is best suited to your specific needs. By understanding the basics of these two types of ownership, you can ensure you’re making an informed decision that aligns with both your financial situation and long-term plans.

If you have any questions about freehold or leasehold properties and you’re searching for reliable estate agents near Much Hadham, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Wright & Co. With over 110 years of combined experience, we have the property knowledge required to provide you with tailored advice when purchasing a new home. When you visit our Sawbridgeworth office, our estate agents can discuss your unique property needs with you in more detail and help you find your dream home. 


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