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Victorian House Is Freehold But Subject To A Lease?

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Hello all.

I'm in the process of buying a freehold Victorian house in Sheffield. My solicitor (who is based down south) was alarmed to find that, while the house is freehold, there is also a lease mentioned in the Charges Register. I went onto the Land Registry website and downloaded the Title Register. The Title Absolute names the vendor as the proprietor, but in the Charges Register it mentions an 800-year lease starting in 1899 and owned by another individual.

 

I'm worried that whoever owns the leasehold (heirs of the person named in the Charges Register) could show up and eject me from the property/start charging ground rent.

 

The estate agent says this sort of arrangement is common in Sheffield and that I shouldn't worry. My solicitor, on the other hand, is adamant that the lease needs to be removed or merged with the freehold title. She's requested the lease from the vendor's solicitors but as far as I know they still haven't sent it.
 

I'm just trying to get a sense of how common this sort of thing is, and how worried I need to be. Thanks in advance.

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I’ve never heard of that before.

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Sounds like the property is leasehold and not freehold.  If your solicitor can't figure that one out it's not a very good sign.

 

You can purchase the freehold reversion after you've lived there a few years.

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Had a similar situation a couple of years ago where I was the actual Freeholder of a property and was selling it on . The London solicitor was clueless ( they appeared to be " property specialists " which was basically  a Conveyancing  factory with very junior staff handling the conveyancing ) . Put the purchasor  in touch with my Sheffield solicitor who was handling the whole thing, sorted in no time

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, geared said:

Sounds like the property is leasehold and not freehold.  If your solicitor can't figure that one out it's not a very good sign.

 

You can purchase the freehold reversion after you've lived there a few years.

That's what I thought - but when you search for the property on the Land Registry website, it lists the tenure as 'freehold'. Very confusing!

 

18 minutes ago, lobster said:

Had a similar situation a couple of years ago where I was the actual Freeholder of a property and was selling it on . The London solicitor was clueless ( they appeared to be " property specialists " which was basically  a Conveyancing  factory with very junior staff handling the conveyancing ) . Put the purchasor  in touch with my Sheffield solicitor who was handling the whole thing, sorted in no time

That's good to know! How was it resolved in the end? May I ask which Sheffield solicitor you used?

Edited by willdervish

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Latest from the vendor's solicitors (via the estate agent):

 

"Further to our telephone conversation the lease is unfortunately unavailable from the Land Registry, this is likely due to it’s age (1899) and the fact the freehold for the property has been registered since 1986.  With this in mind we can offer the buyer a Missing Document Indemnity Insurance Policy. 

 

As you are aware the buyer’s solicitor is requesting we remove the lease from the freehold title.  This is not necessary nor really recommended as a lease is noted on a freehold title when there are still easements applicable to the property.  If the lease was removed then the buyer would not have the benefit of these easements (albeit we cannot clarify what these are as the lease is not available to be reviewed but in any event the buyer still has the benefit of these).  The covenants contained in the lease will no longer be applicable as the owner of the property is effectively their own landlord and covenants in a lease are only valid when the freehold and leasehold are owned separately."

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For what it's worth we had something similar with our current house in the Peak District. We bought it on the understanding that it was freehold but then, after living there for a year or so, we received a hand-scrawled note through the post demanding payments for unpaid Chief Rent. Our solicitor suggested we pay it as the amounts were relatively small, which we did. After a while the demands dried up and so did our payments. We suspect this was some ancient arrangement which is no longer upheld by the law once the person has died.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, geared said:

You could contact Jeffrey Shaw and get his opinion, being Sheffield based he might have a better insight for you.

 

https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/person/106261/jeffrey-stephen-shaw

Thank you! Is that the same @Jeffrey Shaw who is a moderator here?

 

2 hours ago, Paul_ said:

For what it's worth we had something similar with our current house in the Peak District. We bought it on the understanding that it was freehold but then, after living there for a year or so, we received a hand-scrawled note through the post demanding payments for unpaid Chief Rent. Our solicitor suggested we pay it as the amounts were relatively small, which we did. After a while the demands dried up and so did our payments. We suspect this was some ancient arrangement which is no longer upheld by the law once the person has died.

Interesting!

Edited by willdervish

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18 minutes ago, willdervish said:

Thank you! Is that the same @Jeffrey Shaw who is a moderator here?

 

Interesting!

Yep it is.

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Posted (edited)

And here I am.

There are various possibilities, including some at which I've guessed below, but I've no idea if any of them applies.

 

1.  The leasehold's proprietor IS the current vendor but you've mistakenly looked only at the original lessee/tenant (= the person to whom the lease was initially granted).

2. The leasehold's proprietor IS the current vendor but the lease is itself still unregistered at HMLR even though noted against the freehold reversion title.

3. The lease is of mineral rights only.

4. The freehold title relates to this and at least one other house, and the lease is of only the other house (i.e. the house that you're buying is itself freehold with no lease BUT it comes with next-door's freehold reversion).

 

But I don't like the offer of a Missing Document Indemnity Insurance Policy if you aren't acquiring the house as either:

a. a freehold with no lease; or

b. a leasehold.

 

Finally, why on earth is your solicitor not investigating all this? Isn't that what you're paying for?

Edited by Jeffrey Shaw

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @Jeffrey Shaw - your input is very much appreciated! Here's exactly what it says on the Title Register (with names and address redacted), in case that makes things any clearer:

 

A: Property Register

This register describes the land and estate comprised in the title.

SOUTH YORKSHIRE : SHEFFIELD

1 (27.03.1986) The Freehold land shown edged with red on the plan of the above Title filed at the Registry and being THE PROPERTY, Sheffield.

 

B: Proprietorship Register

This register specifies the class of title and identifies the owner. It contains any entries that affect the right of disposal.

Title absolute

1 (04.07.1989) Proprietor: VENDOR 1 and VENDOR 2 his

wife, both of THE PROPERTY, Sheffield, S Yorkshire.

 

C Charges Register

This register contains any charges and other matters that affect the land.

1 Lease dated 2 September 1899 to VICTORIAN CHAP for 800 years from 25 March 1899

NOTE: The lease comprises also other land

End of register

Edited by willdervish

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