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francis might be able to answer this?


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At the end of a lease, ownership of the property reverts to the lessor. It is possible there are two leases, one for the actual building (for example were it a flat), though that would usually be shorter than the lease on the land, and one for the land. Therefore, if the lessor is the Crown, ownership would revert to the Crown. The lease itself will tell you who is the lessor but, at 999 years, it is most probably, in one or other guise, the Crown.
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Technically a Leasehold property reverts to the Freeholder at the end of the Lease. However houses with 999 year leases are effectively the same and treated the same as Freehold property.


999 year leases are an "accident" of history often associated with landowners who initially charged a peppercorn rent that by now has never been collected for years.


However, there are some issues in that if you share a wall or boundary with another property there can be some issues re repair as you need to ascertain exactly what your lease extends to.


I think Brian is mistaken re the Freeholder likely to be the Crown - whilst this is true in many Commonwealth countries where the old British Empire took land ownership then leased it back to the original owners 8-) - the crown rarely did this in the UK.


However, some companies and large estates did this - the Bourneville estate springs to mind.


Here as with other tenancies with the remainder of the 999 year Lease, you can find the freeholder and buy the Freehold as it is to all intents and purpose valueless unless you are a Time Lord.


However do watch out because if you have a mortgage on such a property you will have to cancel that and start a new mortgage if you purchase the Freehold


There are a few other little glitches you could well be wise to sort out and for that you should use a VERY good property/commercial lawyer. Not to do so is a true false economy that you will not discover until you try to sell or do something and you find that the local conveyancing practice was not up to the job.


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We used to pay a ground rent to a company that went bust, the ground rent was about £7 per year which was not collected for several years, I got my solicitor to try and track down whoever owned the freehold but I got no joy there, eventually I recieved a demand for payment from a firm of solicitors and I told them that I wanted to buy the freehold, in total it cost me about a £1000, they wouldnt tell me who owned the freehold, the reason that I wanted to buy the freehold was because of a certain individual who was buying up freeholds and causing havoc in this area by scouring freeholds and charging people big money for retrospective permission for having built extensions to their property, although they complied with council building regs etc, not a lot of people realise that you have to have the freeholders permission.
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Up here 'north of the Wall' in days gone by we all had to pay a 'feu' on our properties as we never owned the land on which the house was built. Fortunately, this was changed and one either bought out the feu, or it was junked. In most cases the feu owner was the Church who of course were great land owners.


In England the idea that 'an Englishman's home was his castle' was often the case, but not always so. If the property is leasehold then you are merely a tenant until it runs out. It may be possible to buy the leashold and make it freehold but again certain very rich people like the Duke of Westminster own large parts of the l;ease on London, and get rents. A 999 year lease obviously gives a lot of room to not worry about it, but if you buy an older property that maybe only had a 99 year lease, then it may be getting close to time up. Renewing a leasehold is of course subject to negotiation, but hopefully can be renewed on similar terms. Remenber with leasehold the owner of the lease will have rights and responsibilities to the property which may, or may not be advantageous.

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Nearby me there is a cottage called Crabtree's cottage it was owned at one time by someone called Crabtree who either invented or discovered something, can't remember what it was.

About 20 years ago someone bought it and decided to demolish it and build a new house, he applied for all the relevant council permissions and demolished the house and cleared the site then started building, he was stopped from further building and the lease holder reclaimed the land, there was a big court case but the house owner lost, apparantly if he had just knocked one wall down at a time and rebuilt it he would have been ok, the land was eventually sold for big bucks.

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I have been interested in these leasehold problems for a long time, about 30 years ago an orthodox Jew came over here from America, he was a lawyer. he spent a million pound dowery that he recieved on marriage buying up groundrents, he used to advertise for them in the local paper, why I thought? because you can't increase them.

He caused absolute chaos here in north Manchester which is a predominantly Jewish area, his own people hated him, eventually they ganged up on him and he was made bankrupt and he was also prosecuted for claiming welfare benefits, and that is why I bought my freehold.

On a regular basis I get cold called from speculators wanting to buy my house in order to demolish it and build new houses on it due to the garden being so big.

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There is also an issue with "rights of way" with these properties if I remember correctly. I have been trying to trawl back to the information but have failed so far.


But as I remember it, a house with a long lease may be sitting on a parcel of land that is Freehold and the Right of Way into and out of the Leasehold property is given by the Freeholder.


So if someone owns or buys the Freehold - they can cause chaos when the Leaseholder wants to sell the property as it can not be sold without right of access and in the case I remember, the new Freeholder was selling the Right of Way back to the tenant of the Leasehold property for many £'000's.


So again when buying a Leasehold property of any sort, access rights are something that needs to be looked at.


I believe in the case as I remember it, the leaseholder had to pay a huge sum to get back his access rights and then because of all the publicity, no one wanted to buy his property anyway as the disadvantages of his leasehold property was all over the papers!


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CliveH - 2011-11-08 4:46 PM..................................I think Brian is mistaken re the Freeholder likely to be the Crown - whilst this is true in many Commonwealth countries where the old British Empire took land ownership then leased it back to the original owners 8-) - the crown rarely did this in the UK.................................

You may well be right Clive. My comment was based on my understanding that all land within the UK is vested in the Crown, with its rights being exercised by government. Therefore, I reasoned, if the tenancy expires after 999 years (which may be a little academic :-)), the right of occupancy granted under the lease would expire. With no other right of occupancy, I assumed the "Crown", as ultimate owner, assumes the right to keep and occupy, or dispose of, the land at will.

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You are partly right Brian but what you refer to is the old principle that operates on the basis of Right of Conquest, when it was accepted that the sovereign owned all the land and individuals could hold, or rent, land from the king, but at a price – usually cash or fighting men for the king. This is the origin of a leasehold property.


Later, when the king required more money, he started selling land ‘freehold’. This meant the tenant could hold or occupy the land free of any charge to a superior.


In both cases the land is merely held, not owned. In other words, purchasers did not buy the land; they bought the freehold, or the right to occupy the land without charge.


In this way, all individuals except the sovereign were said to hold the land “of” someone else. This is the roots of sovereignty. However, when land became ‘ownerless’ [as in intestate estates or company bankruptcy], it reverted back to the sovereign as absolute owner. This principle still operates today.


However, instead of the word ‘sovereign’, the word ‘Crown’ is used as a metaphor for the institution of government - which the sovereign embodies and represents.


That said, Cromwell did more than a bit to upset the rights of ultimate land ownership by the Sovereign. And subsequent to this the Laws of England and Wales (Not Cornwall) evolved in such a way that land ONLY reverts to the Crown if the Freeholder dies intestate.


Thus as long as the Freeholder is known, the land will never revert to the Crown. Where the ownership becomes unknown – i.e. where a person dies intestate, then the crown takes over and re-sells that land to ensure that “land grabs” on death no longer happen in the UK.


In Cornwall the situation is VERY different with the Duchy of Cornwall owing all land. The whole of Cornwall is legally the soil and territorial possession of the Duke of Cornwall in right of the Duchy of Cornwall and people hold their land not from the Queen as sovereign, but from the Duke as sovereign. Therefore, and in accordance with the terms of the 1st Duchy Charter, people in Cornwall hold their land not from the UK Government, but from a legally extant but now denied and hidden Duchy Government.


If someone dies Intestate in most of the UK the office dealing is:-


Treasury Solicitor Queen Ann’s Chamber, 28 Broadway London SW1H 9JS


but die intestate in Cornwall and you have to deal with:-


The Solicitor for the Affairs of the Duchy of Cornwall, Farrer & Co, 66 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LH


The “Prince’s Council”, is an institution of governance that, whilst reaping the financial benefits and other rewards of this constitutional settlement, many Cornish people believe that it abdicates its reciprocal duties and responsibilities towards the territory and people from which it derives its powers, rights and status.


The implications are fascinating. In fact, from the research I have done it is possible that if France (as the obvious near neighbor) agreed, post some sort of “revolution” to boot out Charles, Cornwall could leave the United Kingdom and become part of France.

8-) 8-)

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