We own the freehold of a number of houses in the borough.
Owning a leasehold property means you own the building but not the land it is built on. The freeholder owns the land and you pay ground rent.
The history of leasehold properties goes back to Victorian times and before, when landowners wanted to retain the title to their land but also wanted an income from it. This was still the line of thought at the time of building Welwyn Garden City in 1920 and expanding Hatfield in the 1930's.
Original lease terms were usually for 99 or 999 years. Both types of lease allow you to purchase the freehold, but people with a 99-year lease obviously have a shorter term left and prospective purchasers may have difficulty obtaining a mortgage for a property with a short lease.
Purchasing the freehold your council leasehold house
We are happy to sell the freehold of a leasehold house in the borough to the leaseholder. If you are considering purchasing a leasehold property, we will be willing to sell you the freehold as soon as you are registered as the leaseholder.
Reasons to buy your freehold include:
- The shorter the remaining time on your lease, the more the freehold will cost to buy.
- Some people can be put off buying a house that isn't freehold.
- Many 99-year leases will now have less than 60 years left on the lease.
- Mortgage providers can be reluctant to grant mortgages when there is only a short period of time left on the lease, so prospective purchasers may have problems.
The legislation used by leaseholders to purchase their freeholds is the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
The cost will depend very much on the years remaining on the lease. As well as the purchase price you will be responsible for the council's legal fee and estates fees, as well as your own legal expenses. A valuation for the cost of your freehold may be obtained by our Corporate Property team.
Once the freehold has been transferred, the new freeholders title must be registered with the Land Registry Leicester Office, Westbridge Place, Leicester, LE3 5DR. There is a fee payable for this and further enquiries may be made to the Land Registry on 0116 265 4000 or 0844 8921111 or by looking at their website.
At the completion of the purchase of the freehold, ground rent is no longer payable for the property.
The leases contain covenants, which are rules by which the leaseholders must abide if they are to remain in residence. The covenants were primarily included to ensure that the look of the property was kept as original as possible and that no activities would take place at the property, which would cause nuisance to any neighbours.
When a freehold is purchased, the covenants within the lease still apply and the appropriate permissions must be sought from the council for alterations or additions to the building.
The Welwyn Garden City Management Scheme
In addition, we also have a piece of local legislation called The Welwyn Garden City Management Scheme which applies only to Welwyn Garden City and was set in place to ensure that the character of the town is preserved while the wishes of the residents to alter or extend their properties are respected.
This scheme was imposed by the High Court in 1973 and covers most of the areas of Welwyn Garden City.
Purchasing the freehold of a house is something that is particular to the New Towns and some areas of London. For that reason, not all solicitors use this legislation on a regular basis.
If you do not have a solicitor that you use regularly, any solicitors within the district will be able to help you on this matter. They liaise with our legal department on a regular basis for their clients and will be able to advise and undertake this work on your behalf.
The council cannot recommend any firms in particular.
For further details and an informal discussion, contact Corporate Property on 01707 357456 or email a Corporate Property Support Officer.
For independent advice, consult with your solicitor or mortgage provider. Your mortgage provider may well offer to provide a loan to buy the freehold of your property.
Purchasing the freehold of a flat is more complicated and if you are a leasehold flat owner, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a solicitor in the first instance.