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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22618
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Our family owns the freehold to 7 houses which are occupied

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Our family owns the freehold to 7 houses which are occupied by leaseholders, with c. 850 years left on the leases. Ground rent a tiny c.£2 per house per annum.
Should we be interested in keeping the freehold alive and handing down through generations? Under what circumstances could we realise value from these freeholds?
One difficulty is that any value will be split wider and wider as successive generations inherit - any recommendations?

Hello, I am Law
Denning and I am a practising solicitor in a High Street practice. I have been
an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you
appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a
variety of subjects.

we 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 case

It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me
while I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able to
advise you fully.

Please define "family" and how this came about
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

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 the
ground rent, then after 12 years, you can no longer collect the arrears from
before 12 years. Ie, the maximum period, you can go back is 12 years. So if you
never collect rent and then one day you decide you want to, you can only
collect 12 years worth. The limitation period is 12 years under a deed which is
the lease.

The rent never stops becoming due and your Freehold never falls
into disuse. The default situation is the Freehold because the leasehold is
created out of the Freehold.

These are almost peppercorn leases and the cost of collecting
the 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 11
houses... Once every 11 years. Can you be bothered?

Of course, whenever anybody sells the house, you can ask for all
the arrears going back as far as you like before you will confirm that the
ground rent is paid up to date. You can only enforce 12 years in court (which
is not worth it). You can insist on as many years arrears as you like for ground
rent receipt purposes.

It then comes down as to whether you want to sell the freeholds or

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 the
others wanted it, it makes the residue of the freehold worth less because the
person 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 £500
plus your legal costs, apps, another 5 pounds.

It really comes down to what is likely to happen to the houses in
the future and am sorry to have to tell you, but I don't have a crystal ball.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

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?

only reason this ever gets split is if it is not dealt with properly in a
person's will. If the properties Freeholds were willed by the initial owner to
a person, that person could will them and so on and so forth.

It is
when they are dealt with in residue that it gets divided exponentially

If one
of the current owners leaves that quarter share in there will to a person, then
it passes to that person so that is how to deal with it.

One of
the current owners can of course buy out the other three now if they can come
to an agreement although if all the current owners think that there is a future
value, they may reluctant to sell or reluctant to agree a price.

The way of making sure that the whole thing does not
get watered down even more is to make sure that the current owners will them to
an individual and do not leave it to be dealt with in the will residue
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