A Tale of Two Titles

2nd August 2022

The Leaseholder’s plight of a missing Landlord

If you have purchased a leasehold house, you may or may not be aware that you could be entitled to purchase the freehold title to your property from the freehold owner, known as the Landlord. This is usually a fairly straightforward process but what happens when the Landlord cannot be found? The Leasehold Reform Act 1967 has the answer.

 The Advantages of Owning the Freehold Title to your Property

If you have not considered purchasing the freehold to your property, there are a number of advantages of doing so, including:

  1. Owning the freehold title of your property gives you complete autonomy over what happens to your property and how it is used;
  2. You will no longer be required to make payments to the landlord, such as ground rent;
  3. You do not need to monitor the time that is left on your lease for the purposes of selling or re-mortgaging your house.

The Usual Procedure

When a Leaseholder of a house meets the appropriate criteria and wishes to purchase the freehold title of their property, they will ordinarily serve notice on the Landlord of their intention to purchase. This gives the Landlord the opportunity to admit or challenge the claim and it is hoped that the parties can proceed to negotiate a purchase price where ultimately the Title is sold to the Leaseholder and the freehold and leasehold titles are merged to become one.

What happens if your Landlord cannot be found?

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to serve notice on the Landlord, be that as a result of relocation or being a company that no longer exists. In those circumstances, the Leaseholder is prevented from exercising their right to purchase the freehold title in the usual way. However, this is not the end of the story and the Leaseholder may still be able to purchase the freehold title with the assistance of the Court.

The Court will make directions for the property to be advertised in the hope that the Landlord can be found. If the Landlord comes forward then the Leaseholder is able to serve notice and the process can continue in the usual way. If, however, no Landlord is found as a result of the advertisements then the Court has the power to order that the freehold title vests with the Leaseholder upon payment of the value of the freehold into the Court, which is determined by the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), as if it had been purchased from the Landlord in the usual way.

Please note this process does not apply to the purchase of the freehold relating to flats or to the purchase of freehold titles which have become bona vacantia.

If you would like further advice in relation to the right to purchase the freehold title of your property and the process where the Landlord cannot be found, please contact Louise Palmer on 01543 267231 or email


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