I am buying a commonhold property but what does this mean?

Sat 26 Jul 2014 by Lorraine Imhoff

Written by Lorraine Imhoff

This is a question asked of conveyancing solicitors from time to time and due to the relative scarcity of commonhold, it is not unusual for solicitors to scratch their heads.

Most people are familiar with the terms ‘Freehold’ and ‘Leasehold’.  Buyers tend to prefer Freehold interests as a lease does not last for ever (typically 99 years) and as such is seen as a depreciating asset.

In 2002 a new form of tenure called ‘commonhold’ came into being as part of the ‘commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002’.

This act was primarily designed to address flats and in particular those that shared ‘common parts’ such as hallways, the roof, the foundations, lifts  and so on.  Under Commonhold these parts are owned by a Commonhold association and the details are decided by the associations memorandum.

The Association and its relationship to its members is set out and regulated in the articles of association. 

Technically existing blocks can be converted to commonhold, however this is unusual and the more common route has been to establish a share of freehold structure.

Commonhold is rare

Commonhold is rare, very rare, with an estimation of fewer than 50 blocks across England and Wales.  The majority of examples tend to have been implemented in new developments.

If you are buying a commonhold property, one should not be deterred however.  Commonhold does not depreciate towards the end of their lease terms.

Equally important is the removal of any need for Landlords giving the’ commonholders’ the right of self determination of their building.  This makes it easier for residents to run and make decisions in the interests of their homes as well as deciding how maintenance is carried out.

Homeward Legal’s solicitors include a commonhold specialist who has looked at the title of a number of commonhold flats.

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