What is a flying freehold?

Not a flying saucer or a flying elephant, but a flying freehold!

If you are buying a house, particularly a period property, you might be told by your Solicitor that the property has a flying freehold.

If you own the freehold of a property, you own it outright. This contrasts with a leasehold property where you only have a temporary, albeit it long term, interest in the property.

If part of your freehold property is structurally above another party’s property, meaning that you do not own the building or land underneath, you will have a flying freehold.

This can typically occur in older houses where there are first floor rooms over a passageway which is shared, or belongs to the neighbour. It can also occur in terrace or semi-detached properties, where the room layout upstairs is not directly above the ground floor rooms.

The potential problem with flying freeholds is that the owner above, has no control or rights over what the owner below does with their property and whether they keep it in good repair etc. There can be issues over rights of support and rights of access.

These risks can sometimes cause difficulties when obtaining a mortgage, although this will very much depend on your lender as there are differing requirements. When we act in such cases, it is to make additional investigations into the title and to properly identify the area effected by the flying freehold.

In some cases it is possible to take out Indemnity Insurance which will protect the owner against potential financial loss which may occur in the future. Again, this will depend on your lender.

In summary, do not be put off if your dream home has a flying freehold, but be prepared for this to be an additional factor your solicitor will need to resolve for you, and we would be happy to advise you.

Published 20 September 2018

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