UK Property Law
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Hello, I am LawDenning and I am a practising solicitor in a High Street practice. I have beenan expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as youappreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on avariety of subjects.
Becausewe are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes,particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that caseIt is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with mewhile I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able toadvise you fully.
Family....the freehold (for 11 houses sorry mistake saying 7 yesterday) is held in my wifes grandmothers name - deceased. Family debate is what to do with the now equal shares of this freehold between wife's mum and her three siblings. I understand the houses were sold by grandma during her lifetime, but freehold retained within the family.
Houses are terraced, mostly now rented out and in poor repair - not sure how long they will still be stood.
On first reflection - low ground rent+leashold with many hundreds of years to run, mean that freehold is not worth much at all, however, our thoughts are - if houses were to fall badly into disrepair, is it possible we could get access to the land much earlier than the very long leasehold term would suggest? If so, it seems worth retaining and registering under current live family members.
Another concern is if we stop collecting ground rent - think we have not for three years now - does this jeopardise the freehold
Thank you. I can see what has happened. If you do not collect theground rent, then after 12 years, you can no longer collect the arrears frombefore 12 years. Ie, the maximum period, you can go back is 12 years. So if younever collect rent and then one day you decide you want to, you can onlycollect 12 years worth. The limitation period is 12 years under a deed which isthe lease.
The rent never stops becoming due and your Freehold never fallsinto disuse. The default situation is the Freehold because the leasehold iscreated out of the Freehold.
These are almost peppercorn leases and the cost of collectingthe money is probably more than you are collecting. What you can do, of course,is collect it . Every 11 years, which is £22 per house, which is £242 for 11houses... Once every 11 years. Can you be bothered?
Of course, whenever anybody sells the house, you can ask for allthe arrears going back as far as you like before you will confirm that theground rent is paid up to date. You can only enforce 12 years in court (whichis not worth it). You can insist on as many years arrears as you like for groundrent receipt purposes.
It then comes down as to whether you want to sell the freeholds ornot.
If the houses are likely to be knocked down or the area redeveloped,your Freehold may be worth a substantial amount of money.
If they are not, then your Freehold is worth very little.
If one person in the area bought the freehold but none of theothers wanted it, it makes the residue of the freehold worth less because theperson in the middle and then owns the freehold can hold the others to ransom.So it is only worth selling the freehold if everyone wants to buy them.
Typically, this kind of freehold would sell between £250 and £500plus your legal costs, apps, another 5 pounds.
It really comes down to what is likely to happen to the houses inthe future and am sorry to have to tell you, but I don't have a crystal ball.
Doesthat answer the question? Can I help further? Can I answer any specific points?
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I amoff-line shortly but will pick this up later because I am on and off-line eachday and weekend so please bear with me.
Hi. Sorry for delay - been away this weekend...
Thanks for your answer - one final query and then I will close/feedback to ensure you get the credit.
I do believe there is quite a strong chance that the properties could fall into disrepute and be knocked down - and hence the freehold is of value. The freehold is currently split between 4 siblings including my wifes mother. The issue is that over time, this will continue to split further as these part shares are passed down through the generations. Have you any suggestions for if/how this can be overcome?
Theonly reason this ever gets split is if it is not dealt with properly in aperson's will. If the properties Freeholds were willed by the initial owner toa person, that person could will them and so on and so forth.
It iswhen they are dealt with in residue that it gets divided exponentially
If oneof the current owners leaves that quarter share in there will to a person, thenit passes to that person so that is how to deal with it.
One ofthe current owners can of course buy out the other three now if they can cometo an agreement although if all the current owners think that there is a futurevalue, they may reluctant to sell or reluctant to agree a price.
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