What should I do if I am buying or selling a property with a missing freeholder and a short lease?
If you are purchasing a property with a short lease then any claim to an extended lease started by the seller (assuming that they qualify) can normally be assigned to the purchaser as part of the conveyancing process.
However, with a missing freeholder the process is likely to be much trickier – and subject to some fairly significant delays
– if it is not already well under way by the time you make your offer to purchase the flat.
This is because to be able to initiate a claim in the County Court, various preliminary steps need to be dealt with such as obtaining a private investigators’ report and placing a ‘statutory advert’ in the London Gazette and also the press local to where the property is located.
These are all part of the preliminary steps to tracking down the missing freeholder that need to be dealt with before a court will accept that the freeholder is truly missing and that it should accept service of proceedings on his behalf.
Getting a mortgage on a property may be difficult when a freeholder is missing. Many lenders like to know that the freeholder is present. With the presence of the freeholder, lenders consider the property to equitable because certain terms of the lease are difficult to enforce without knowledge of who or where the freeholder is.
If your lease falls under 80 years and you want to extend it or perhaps you are in a position to purchase the freehold or want to propose the purchasing a share of the freehold with other leaseholders in your building.
What is a freeholder’s responsibility?
Knowing how to contact your freeholder ensures that the buildings management functions are being met. A freeholder is responsible for fulfilling duties under the terms of the lease, such as insuring the building, repairs and sorting out disputes between other leaseholders. They will also be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the communal areas in the property including the grounds.
Depending on the conditions of your lease, you may also need to get his or her permission if you want to make significant alterations to your home.
Finding a Missing Freeholder
We offer a tracing service to find absent or missing freeholders. We have 20 years plus experience of finding people and property research and will leave no stone unturned in the process. We have developed information sources and research techniques that are specific to the uniquely and sometimes very difficult nature of missing freeholder research.