5 Things To Look for When Buying a Flat

Published: 11th October 2017

Buying a property is a very smart investment. There is nobody that can argue with that. However, buying a flat is often more complex than buying a house, which is not a simple process to start with. Liddy’s have had a specialist conveyancing department for over 10 years. In this time we have worked with hundreds of people buying and selling flats. Because of this we wanted to draw up a list of 5 things to keep an eye out for, when buying a flat.

Leasehold – unlike houses, the chances are when you buy a flat you are buying it leasehold. This means that you not own the property outright, but instead own it for a set amount of years, at the end of which ownership reverts back to the freeholder. It is worth checking how long is left on the leasehold, as technically if it is shorter then the property is worth less.

Can you extend the lease – as a direct follow up from the above, a short lease time is not the end of the world if you can extend it. In fact, once you have lived in a property for 2 years you normally have the automatic right to extend it by a further 90 years.

Are there any further costs – service charges and ground rent can be additional costs that need to be accounted for when buying a flat. Ground rent is usually a nominal amount which is paid annually, but services charges can catch people out if they are not aware of them. There can also be a reserve or ‘sinking’ fund, in which you pay into a pot to cover and large-scale renovation or repair work.

Is there a resident’s association – many large-scale blocks of flats will have a resident’s association whose role is to look after the rights of the leaseholders. Contacting these housing associations beforehand is often a good way of gauging what living in the flats is really like.

Can you buy a share of the freehold – under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 leaseholders can act together to buy the freehold from the building owner. Also, a lease holder should have first refusal to buy the property if the free holder decides to sell.

And while it is not essential, it is recommended that you choose a solicitor with experience when you are thinking about buying a flat. A conveyancing solicitor with years of experience will be know what to keep an eye out for, and will help the purchase run more smoothly. To find out how we can help just call Liddy’s today on 01924 366 896.