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Is it a good idea to buy a leasehold house with an absent landlord?

We are first-time buyers looking to purchase a three-bed mid terrace property. We viewed almost 20 houses before finding one we both liked, so it was a long process already. Just prior to contract signing, our solicitor sent us an email stating that the house was not freehold, as we had been told by estate agent and our survey, but instead leasehold. Not only that, but the landlord is absent, and has been for 30 years; the lease is 850 years and ground rent is £20 with no review for increase. Is this a good idea to buy the house?! We're so confused with conflicting ideas from friends and family, who say get out, but our solicitor and our friend (who is also a property solicitor) state it should be ok. Mortgage has been approved, so that's no issue. We just want some more advice from anyone who has dealt with a situation like this before, or has been through it. Will be have problems selling the property on?

Asked on Sep 5 2018, General in Southampton | Report content

Answers (1)

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  • Hello Verity, The main risk with a missing landlord is that, strictly speaking, he/she is responsible for repairs or take other action required under the terms of the lease (such as correctly insuring the property). There's also the chance that the absent freehold owner could turn up out of the blue and start enforcing the terms of the lease and/or covenants. Perhaps the freehold property gets sold or inherited at some point which could create headaches in the future - especially if you have inadvertently not complied with the lease. However, I think you should be ok as the lender has approved the mortgage (but it may be worth checking that there hasn't been any oversight). You can also take out a 'missing landlord indeminity' insurance policy which will cover you for any of the scenarios above. I would speak to a leasehold specialist solicitor as well to further put your mind at rest. Hope things go well with your purchase. Best regards, Ruban

    Answered on Sep 6 2018, Report content

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