Before we start let’s define the difference between a freeholder and a leaseholder.
What is a freehold?
The freeholder of a property owns it outright (absolute), including the land it’s built on.
If you buy a freehold property, you’re responsible for maintaining your property and land. Most houses are freehold but some might be leasehold – usually through shared-ownership schemes or newer built homes.
Benefits of having a freehold
You don’t have to:
- Worry about the lease running out, as you own the property outright.
- Deal with the freeholder (often known as the landlord).
- Pay ground rent, services charges or any other landlord charges.
What is a leasehold?
With a leasehold, you own the property (subject to the terms of the leasehold) for the length of your lease agreement with the freeholder.
When the lease ends, ownership returns to the freeholder, unless you can extend the lease.
Most flats and maisonettes are owned leasehold, so while you own your property in the building, you have no stake in the building it is in. Some houses are sold as leaseholds. If this is the case, you own the property, but not the land it sits on.
Okay now that we are clear on leasehold and freehold let’s look at what to do when you are serving notices to flats which have both freeholders and leaseholders.
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 makes clear that Party Wall Notices must be served upon all owners of the property. This includes the Leaseholders that it impacts as well as the Freeholder. Before serving notice you should obtain the full details of all the adjoining owners from the Land Registry website. This will provide clear indication as to who the adjoining owners (neighbours) are and this is where the Notices would need to be served.
Legally speaking both a leaseholder and a freeholder are deemed to be “owners” under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and therefore both are legally due a Party Wall Notice in advance of the Building Owner’s Party Wall works commencing.
For example, if the Building Owner’s house adjoined a large block of flats with a freeholder and with multiple leaseholders on the ground and first floor, all within the notifiable distances as prescribed by the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
In short, it would mean that the Building Owner would need to serve multiple Party Wall Notices on the multiple Adjoining Owners. This would not only lead to the potential for a significant delay in the Building Owner’s proposed work, it could also lead to a significant amount of surveying costs that the Building Owner will be responsible for.
Our experienced Party Wall Surveyors have dealt with these types of situation before and are experienced in reducing the number of dissented parties to reduce the number of Party Wall Awards required.
Do you have a Party Wall Agreement dispute? Do you need to serve a Notice to your neighbouring flats? Looking for advice on how many parties are affected or need help about the Party Wall Act dispute? Find out more about the Party Wall Act compensation and get some free advice from the Surveyors at Seven One Associates.