Being a freeholder means that you are the closest you can get to owning propert outright in English common law. Freeholders can take many forms; they can be individuals, finance companies, mixed use companies (owning both commercial and residential properties in the same development) and ground rent investors. There can also be leasehold resident management companies which are often marketed as ‘share of the freehold’.
A block of flats can also have more than one freeholder if the freeholder who owns the ‘superior’ lease sells what is known as an ‘intermediate’ lease to another party. That party becomes the ‘head lessor’ who can then grant ‘under leases’ to the leaseholders of each flat, making the head lessor their landlord.
This then results in 3 different levels of ownership in the building:
- The freeholder who has the highest level of overall ownership;
- The head lessor (also called the head lessee) who is directly responsible to the leaseholders;
- The leaseholder.
Some freeholders self-manage their blocks but most use the services of a managing agent.
Note: Freeholders are also known as landlords in common law but this is not to be confused by a landlord subletting a property.
Leaseholders are also entitled under legislaton to know the identity of their landlord. A request in writing can be made to the following:
- The person who demands rent;
- The person who last received rent;
- The person who acts as the landlord’s agent.
The person receiving the request must supply the leaseholder with a written statement of the landlord’s name and address within the period of 21 days, beginning with the day on which they receive the request. This also applies if the landlord is a company in which case leaseholders can also request the name of every Director and the Company Secretary.