There are two main types of legal ownership in England and
Wales; Freehold and Leasehold. There are some key differences
to consider before committing to a purchase of either type.

 

What is Freehold?

If you own the freehold, it means that you own
the building and the land it stands on outright. It
will be your name in the land registry and on the
title deeds. Freehold is pretty much always the
preferred option and houses are normally sold
as Freehold.

What is Leasehold?

Leasehold means that you have a lease from the
freeholder to use the home for a number of years.
The leases are usually long term — often 90 years
or 120 years. They can be as high as 999 years
which is also referred to as long leaseholds. When
the lease ends, ownership returns to the freeholder
unless you are able to extend the lease.

Most flats and maisonettes are owned leasehold,
however there are some exceptions to the rule in
Scarborough, where some flats are freehold.
When you buy a leasehold property, you’ll take
over the lease from the previous owner, so before
making an offer you’ll need to consider:

• How many years are left on the lease and
how it may affect obtaining a mortgage/the
property resale value.
• The service charges and related costs that
come with a leasehold property (which are
more than likely changeable rather than fixed)
• If you want to carry out Major works to the
property, as you’ll have to get permission.

 

What are the Conveyancing differences for Leasehold vs Freehold?

Each Conveyancing case is different, however
there are some key reasons why a Leasehold
case involves more work than a Freehold case.
The Conveyancing process for Leasehold cases
typically takes longer and carries higher costs
due to the amount of work involved. Here is a list
of the additional work required on a Leasehold
case (please note this list is not exhaustive).
Your Conveyancing Supplier
needs to read the Lease

Leases are complex documents which include
a lot of important information. If you’re getting a
mortgage, the Conveyancer must ensure that the
lease meets with the lender’s requirements and is
transferable.

The unexpired term of the Lease

It is essential that your Conveyancer checks the
length of the unexpired term of the lease because
many lenders will not provide a mortgage if a
lease has less than 60-65 years left to run after
the end of the mortgage term.
Finding out who owns the Freehold
and requesting information

Your Conveyancer will need to request certain
information from the freeholder in the form of a
leasehold questionnaire and this may take time.
For example, your Conveyancer will check the
responsibilities on communal areas.

 

Management Company

Sometimes, the owners of the leasehold
properties get together, buy the freehold and
form a Management Company to take care
of the upkeep and insurance of the property.
Your Conveyancer will check the company
documents and accounts and the share(s)
must be transferred on completion.

Legal Obligations

The lease contains Covenants which are
promises that the owner of the lease is obliged
to fulfil. Your Conveyancer will inform what
Covenants you must take responsibility of upon
completion.#

Service Charges

Your Conveyancer will contact the owner of the
Freehold to find out what the current monthly
service charges are/check what has been paid to
date. Service charges cover the contributions to
the upkeep of communal areas. They also need
to find out if there is any major work planned
and whether or not there are funds available for
this expense. Your Conveyancer usually looks at
the expenditure of the management company
and freeholder over the last 3 to 5 years to see if
there has been any major expenditure or any debt
incurred. This information should be passed on to
you so that you can budget.

Buildings Insurance Policy

Your Conveyancer will check that the owner of
the freehold/ management Company has insured
the building and checks if there is a covenant in
the lease obliging the lessee to pay their portion
of the sum.

Disputes

Your Conveyancer will try and find out if there are
any disputes between neighbours, the landlord
and or management company.

Short Lease

If required, your Conveyancer will get involved in
obtaining a lease extension or a brand new lease.


What is Intestacy?

If a person dies without a Will, then there are
default rules which determine who inherits. The
deceased is described as ‘intestate’ which may
be either partially or wholly intestate.
Wholly intestacy – is where there is no Will or
the Will has been revoked or is invalid for some
reason e.g. because of marriage, lack of capacity
or failure to sign properly.

Partially intestate – is where the Will fails to deal
with the whole estate and assets pass outside of
the Will according to intestacy rules. This could
be because a beneficiary has died before the
deceased and no reserve beneficiary or that a
beneficiary has witnessed the Will, invalidating
their legacy.

Some reports indicate that as much as 60% of
the population do not have a Will. Among those
aged 65 and some reports state the figure is
approximately 25%. Lots of people fail to make a
Will on grounds of expense or because they do
not understand the ramifications of not having
one. They simply expect everything to transfer to
their loved ones.

A person who dies without leaving a Will has died
intestate; what happens to their estate depends
on the set of circumstances.

The order of inheritance is:
1. Spouse/Civil Partner
2. Children, Grandchildren, great-grandchildren
and so on (called ‘issue’)
3. Parents
4. Brothers and Sisters or their issue
5. Half-brothers and sisters or their issue
6. Grandparents
7. Aunts and Uncles or their issue
8. Half-aunts/uncles or their issue

The question of who takes what depends on
the date of death and the size of the estate and
which relatives are alive at the time of death.
This may mean that those you want to benefit
from your estate will not. If you are in a same
sex relationship, unmarried or have step-children
(that you consider that same as your natural
children), all may lose out because you have not
put a Will in place.
The rules of intestacy generally do not suit
most people.

Some potential pitfalls:

Tax

If your residual estate is more than £250,000,
half of the remainder would be distributed to
children. This could mean that your spouse is left
with an adverse tax position or that your children
inherit assets they are not prepared for. In this
instance, they may need to sell assets to pay a
tax they were not expecting.

 

Example:

Jane and James have two children. They own
their £1.2 million property as tenants in common.
James has other assets of £600,000, mainly
made up of two rental properties. He dies
without a Will. The position is as follows:

• James’ estate is half of the property and
£600,000. Meaning an estate of £1.2 million.
• Jane receives £725,000.
• The children receive £475,000.

James’ Nil Rate Band is £325,000 and has the
transferable element of his Residential Nil Rate
Band (currently at £100,000 to raise by a further
£25,000 each year until April). If they use his
bands on the inheritance to his children there
would still be £50,000 of taxable estate, which
equates to a £20,000 inheritance tax bill. This
could be avoided by doing a Will.

Broken Families

The modern British family is completely
different to 50 years ago. It is much more
likely these days that parents have divorced,
had children from previous relationships etc.
The concept of 2.4 children has long gone and
there is a variety of family units. Intestacy does
not cater for them all.

Someone may die intestate, without a spouse,
children or parents. However, they have a
full blood sibling and two half-siblings. Even
though they are closer with their half-siblings
and consider them the same as their full blood
sibling, intestacy dictates that only the full-blood
sibling would inherit.

The rules could mean children completely
lose out, otherwise known as sideways
disinheritance.

Example:

James has divorced and then remarried. He has
children from his previous relationship. He has
a modest estate of £200,000. This all passes
to his new spouse, whom has children of her
own. She then passes away without a Will and
the estate passes to her children in its entirety.
James’ children would lose out completely,
despite all parties intentions.

Same Sex Couples

Many same sex couples are unmarried and
co-habiting. If one of the couple die, then the
nearest blood relative inherits everything and not
the intended partner, despite the intentions. It is
imperative that they get a Will in place to ensure
that the right people inherit.

For more information on what happens in
differing situations, please speak with an Estate
Planner. A solicitor can draft a Will, to give you
complete peace of mind. Please speak with your
Financial Adviser for further information


The Help to Buy: Equity Loan is a government
funded scheme which started in April 2013. It
is intended to help first-time buyers purchase
a home. It offers buyers the option to pay a
5% deposit on a new build property, and the
Government offers 20% of the sale price of
the home.

In simple terms:

• You put down a 5% deposit on
a new-build house
• The government contributes 20%
of the sale price of your home
• You’d need to borrow 75% of the sale price,
by taking out a mortgage.

For example, say the cost
of your new home is £200,000

• Your 5% deposit = £10,000 – this is the
money you’ll need to save for your first
property
• Your 20% Equity Loan = £40,000 – this is the
money the government will lend you for your
first property
• Your 75% mortgage = £150,000 – this is the
money your mortgage lender will provide

Paying back the Equity Loan

To avoid paying back any fees, you’ll have
to pay back the equity loan within the first 5
years. For further information on the fees you’ll
need to pay back after the five years, speak to
your mortgage adviser.
One of the payment options is to pay back in
instalments (also known as staircasing). This
will reduce your fees, meaning that you own a
greater share of the total sale proceeds when
you come to sell.
Another way to pay back the loan is in one
lump sum. If you do that in the first 5 years,
you’ll have no interest to pay, and you’ll own
the property much quicker.

When it comes to selling your house

You’ll need to pay back the equity loan when
you sell the property or after 25 years of
owning the property whichever comes first.
Because this is an Equity Loan, the government
will own 20% of your property. You’ll have to
pay back 20% of the sale fee. This means that
if house prices rise you’ll owe more money.
Likewise, if house prices drop, you’ll owe the
government less than you borrowed.

Help to Buy in London

Instead of a borrowing 20% of a property as
an equity loan, in London, the government has
introduced a scheme that lets you borrow up to
40% of the property value as an equity loan. This
is because house prices are more expensive.
You’ll still need to save a 5% deposit, but you’ll
only need a mortgage for 55% of the property.
Everything else works in the same way as the
standard Help to Buy: Equity Loan above.


The Right to Buy scheme started in 1980 – and it means tenants
of council houses have the right to buy their council homes at a
significant discount.

Firstly, you’ll need to check that the scheme is
correct for you. You should fill out an eligibility
form you can find on the gov.uk website.

You can apply for the scheme if:

• It’s your only main home
• It’s self-contained
• You’re a secure tenant
• You’ve had a public sector landlord
(e.g. a council, housing association,
or NHS trust for three years – it does
not have to be three years in a row)
You can share the tenancy if:
• The person shares your tenancy
• You have up to three family members
who’ve lived with you for the past 12 months
(even if they don’t share your tenancy)

 

Ex-council homes

If you were living in your council house at the
time, it was sold to another landlord, like a
housing-association you could potentially have
the Right to Buy. This is known as ‘Preserved
Right to Buy.’ You’ll need to ask your landlord if
this applies to you.

 

Right to Acquire

This is another scheme available if the
‘Preserved Right to Buy’ is not correct for you.
It means you may still be able to purchase
the property at a smaller discount under a
scheme called ‘Acquire’.

You can apply to buy your housing association
home if you’ve had a public sector landlord for
three years. These landlords include:

• housing associations
• councils
• the armed services
• NHS trusts and foundation trusts
Who doesn’t qualify for Right to Acquire?

 

You can’t use Right to Acquire if:

• you’re being made bankrupt
• a court has ordered you to leave your home
• you’re a council tenant – you may be able to
use Right to Buy instead
• you have ‘Preserved Right to Buy’

Discounts

You can get a discount on the market value of
your home when you buy it if you qualify for
Right to Buy.

• Maximum discount is £78,600 across
England
• In London boroughs where it’s £104,900
• It will increase each year in April in line
with the consumer price index (CPI)
The discount is based on:
• how long you’ve been a tenant
with a public sector landlord
• the type of property you’re buying
– a flat or house
• the value of your home

If you’re buying with someone else, you count
the years of whoever’s been a public sector
tenant the longest.

• You’ll usually have to repay some or all your
discount if you sell your home within five years
• You might get a smaller discount if you’ve
used Right to Buy in the past

Working out the discount

There are different levels of discount
depending on if you live in a house or flat.
House

• You get a 35% discount if you’ve been
a public sector tenant for between three
and five years
• After five years, the discount goes up by 1%
for every extra year you’ve been a public
sector tenant, up to a maximum of 70% –
or £78,600 across England and £104,900
in London boroughs (whichever is lower)
Flat
• You get a 50% discount if you’ve been
a public sector tenant for between three
and five years
• After five years, the discount goes up by 2%
for every extra year you’ve been a public
sector tenant, up to a maximum of 70% –
or £78,600 across England and £104,900
in London boroughs (whichever is lower)
If your landlord has spent money maintaining
your home, there could be reductions n the
amount of discount you get.

This will affect you if:

• in the last ten years – if your landlord built
or acquired your home before 2 April 2012
• in the last 15 years – if you’re buying your
home through Preserved Right to Buy,
or if your landlord acquired your home
after 2 April 2012

There could be future options within Right
to Buy schemes so be sure to check the
gov.uk website for updates and progress.
Using a mortgage adviser

Be sure to check if this is the right scheme
for you by checking with your knowledgeable
mortgage adviser who is expert in the
industry.


Choosing a Help to Buy: Equity Loan

If you choose to opt for a Help to Buy: Equity
Loan plan, you’ll know it’s a government
scheme offering you a 20% loan for the
property you want to purchase. What you’ll
want to know is, what happens when you want
to pay it back, or what happens if you don’t pay
it back before you sell the property, or when the
mortgage term is over?

Look no further

Like any loan, you’ll have to pay it back.
However, with this loan, there’s no certain
deadlines or tight timeframes. You can choose
to pay the loan back at any time. But the loan
must be paid back after 25 years or when you
sell your home – whichever comes first. You
also have a choice of what you pay back, either
the 10% minimum or 20%. Remembering that
it’s the 10% or 20% of the current value of your
house. That means that if your house is now
worth less than it did when you bought it, the
loan will be smaller. But, if house prices rise,
and your house is worth more, your loan will be
more than the original loan you received from
the government.

Selling your home

You can sell your home when you like.
Your loan will either be paid off in the sale
of the house or paid off at the end of your
mortgage term.

If you’re not looking to sell, but still wanting
to pay back the equity loan, you can.

The fees involved in paying
back the Equity Loan:

• Years 1-5: no fees
For further information on the fees after five
years, please speak to your mortgage adviser.

Staircasing

If you want to make payments towards your
equity loan you’re able to do this in smaller
steps, and this is rather than paying off the
loan all at once. This is called ‘staircasing’.
You can make smaller payments and in turn,
own a larger portion of your property.

Fine tuning any details

If you need extra help, a government appointed
Help to Buy agent will talk you through the
process. They’ll also be able to set up monthly
payments to your bank. Every year you will also
be sent a statement about your equity loan, to
keep you in the loop.

 


It’s important to put plans in place for the future and It’s surprising to
learn that two thirds of people in England and Wales haven’t got a Will.

Most adults have some form of an estate; you may have a house or flat, shares, savings,
investments, businesses and personal belongings. All of these assets make up your
estate and making a Will means that when you die your estate is shared according to
your wishes.

Making a Will can ensure:

• Each family member receives their designated
share of the estate
• Guardians are appointed
• Estate passes to spouses in a tax efficient way
• People dealing with the estate are those trusted
• Any charitable donations can be made
• Individual gifts can be given to those
who will treasure them
• Children from previous relationships
are not by-passed
• Avoidance of ‘sideways disinheritance’

What options do I have?

 

Singular Will

Suitable for an individual making a Will,
this type includes:
• The appointment of executors.
• Noting any gifts.
• Nominating a beneficiary who will receive the
remainder of the estate after all other beneficiaries
have received their inheritance and all debts have
been paid (residual beneficiary).

Mirror Will

A Mirror Will produces two Wills which are nearly
identical and which both leave assets to the same
beneficiaries. The most common example would be
a couple who leave everything to the survivor of them,
and then to their children.

What details do I need to provide?

As part of the process and to determine a quote,
you will be asked the following questions:
1. Do you own shares in a business?
2. Do you own property abroad?
3. Have you ever been divorced?
4. Do you have children by more than one partner?

These questions are asked to determine the Level of
the Will required for your set of circumstances.

Level breakdown

What is the process?
Your property professional can get you a free quote
by asking you the questions listed above.
Once your supplier of choice has been confirmed,
they’ll arrange a telephone call with you to discuss the
information they need from you as part of the fact find
document. A draft Will is prepared and is sent to you
for verification and approval.

What are my storage options?

Your supplier of choice can store your Will for you,
should you wish. However please note this may be
at a small additional fee.

FAQs

Can I revoke or cancel my Will?

A Will is cancelled or revoked by any of the following:
• You destroy it deliberately.
• A new Will is made.
• Marriage generally nullifies a Will.

How can I amend my Will?

With your original supplier or by drawing up a new Will.

What is a ‘residue’?
Residue is the money left after debts and accounts
are settled.

What if your property is held as tenants in common?
If you’re Joint Tenant, then property passes to joint
owner. If you are Tenants in Common, your share
passes to immediate family or as designated by Will.

Can I leave gifts to people without a will?

No, you need a Will to leave gifts to friends or charity.

Who can be my Executors?
Anyone mentally capable over 18 years old. Usually a
family member or trusted friend. It is best to appoint
a trusted person who you feel could do the job. Best
to speak to them first; you should have a minimum of
one and maximum of four.

What is an Executor?
A person named in the Will appointed to carry out
your wishes.

Do I need to appoint Guardians?
If you have children under the age of 18, you should
appoint a Guardian. You can only do this in a Will.

What is a Guardian?
A nominated individual in the Will who will look after
children under 18 years old.


The Remortgage Process

When you remortgage your property you’ll want the services of a firm that is expert in Conveyancing to
help you complete the legal side of the transaction smoothly and efficiently. This guide helps to explain
what is involved with each stage of the process

 

  1. Advise your property professional to
    instruct your conveyancer of choice.
  2. Your conveyancer accepts your case
    (usually within 24 hours). They will send you a
    client care pack for you to fill in and return.
    Please note – the conveyancer is unable to start work
    until they receive this back~
  3. Your completed client care pack is received
    by your conveyancer — work can now start
    on your case.
  4. ID requirements satisfied
    Your identification is received and your conveyancer
    will check to ensure it satisfies requirements.
  5. Mortgage Offer Received
    Your conveyancer has received a copy of your new
    mortgage offer. They can now proceed towards
    completion of your remortgage by obtaining
    redemption figures for your existing mortgage
    (if applicable).
  6. Redemption Figures Received
    Your conveyancer has received confirmation
    of the amount required to pay off your existing
    mortgage (if applicable).
  7. Mortgage Deed Sent to Client
    This is a legal document required by your new
    mortgage lender. You will need to sign this together
    with a witness, and return it to your conveyancer before
    the remortgage can complete.
  8. Mortgage Deed Received Back
    This is confirmation that your conveyancer has
    received your signed mortgage deed back.
  9. Completion Date Set
    Once everything has been received and checked
    by your conveyancer, they will set a date to complete
    your remortgage.
  10. Case Completed
    On the day of completion, your conveyancer will
    receive the money from your new lender and use it to
    pay off your existing mortgage , the redemption fees
    and any administrative charges (if applicable). If you
    have decided to raise additional funds during your
    remortgage , the surplus fees will be paid to you
    at this stage.