Flying freeholds: All your questions answered

properties with flying freeholds, Chorley UK

While rare, flying freehold properties can be found across the UK. If you own a flying freehold property, or are considering buying one, this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

What is a flying freehold?

A flying freehold is a freehold property that overlaps another either above or below it. You can find them across the UK, usually in older properties, since most freehold boundaries are divided vertically. Common examples of flying freeholds include:

  • Balconies that extend over someone else’s land
  • Properties supported by other properties because they are built on a steep hill
  • Upper-level bedrooms extending over a shared archway

What is the difference between freehold and flying freehold?

A flying freehold is practically the same as a regular freehold. The main difference is that it outlines the area where the property overlaps with the property above or below it.

If you need to know more about freeholds versus leasehold properties, our guide can get you up to speed.

What is the problem with flying freeholds?

The problem with flying freeholds is that they can present legal obstacles over financial responsibility regarding the overlapping areas. The law regarding flying freeholds is old and complicated, making it hard to interpret in many cases.

Renovation works are the most common cause of these legal issues, and it can lead to serious problems between the two freeholders. Disputed costs (i.e.: who pays for them), refusal of access and legal arbitration are all possible outcomes.

Are legal issues likely with flying freeholds?

It’s unlikely that you will encounter any legal issues if you own or buy a flying freehold. Most owners experience no problems with legality and costs regarding renovation works or other issues. Common sense and fair discussion between neighbours usually resolves any problems before they can become serious.

Is the law on flying freeholds changing?

The UK Law Commission stated back in 2011 that rules on flying freeholds should be made simpler. The Government announced in 2017 that it agreed with the commission, and would draft legal changes. However, as yet there have been no changes to the law.

Can I get a mortgage on a flying freehold?

Many UK mortgage lenders will not offer a mortgage on a flying freehold property under any circumstances. Despite the low numbers of legal issues involving this kind of freehold, the potential complication is enough to convince these lenders not to take any risks. However, every lender has its own rules and plenty will consider such mortgage applications on a case-by-case basis.

What is Flying Freehold Indemnity insurance?

Flying freehold indemnity insurance is a type of speciality cover that is designed to specifically protect owners of flying freehold properties. It covers you against damages and legal costs if there are issues with the other freeholder. You can find insurers offering this type of policy for between £100-200 per year.

Can flying freehold be converted to leasehold?

It is possible to convert a flying freehold into a leasehold, with the adjoining property holding a single freehold for the entire area. This takes away any legal complication, making the responsibilities clear for both parties. However, negotiating this kind of leasehold conversion is usually a long and often expensive process that needs specialist advice.

Will flying freehold status affect the value of a property?

There’s no direct evidence that having flying freehold status affects the value of the property itself. The only difficulty is that the legal grey area might put off some potential buyers, making it harder to sell.

However, by maintaining good relations with the other freeholder owner, it is possible to entirely avoid having any legal issues.

How can you identify a flying freehold?

To identify a flying freehold, it needs to be clear that a property, or part of a property, is built above or below property owned by another party. This means the owner of the freehold has title to the upper part, but not anything below it. The owner of the property below is usually referred to as the ‘subjacent owner’.

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What are my options as a flying freehold owner?

As the owner of a flying freehold, an alternative to title indemnity insurance is a deed of covenant between the flying freehold owner and the owner of the neighbouring property. This sets out the legal obligations and reciprocal rights of both parties. The deed of covenant only binds future owners, however, if they agree to the terms when they purchase the property.

Who owns the land under a flying freehold?

A flying freehold only covers the part of the freehold property that reaches into, or overlaps, a neighbouring property. The flying freeholder owns and controls the ‘flying’ element of the property, but not the land or any buildings beneath it.

Are flying freehold properties hard to sell?

While flying freeholds don’t typically affect the value of a property, they can make them somewhat harder to sell than traditional properties. Some lenders are reluctant to provide mortgages for properties with flying freeholds. This can limit the pool of potential buyers who might be interested in the property.

Should I avoid buying a flying freehold?

If you’re buying your property with cash, you shouldn’t have any problems buying a property with a flying freehold. However, if you need a mortgage to complete your purchase, you may encounter difficulties. You may also consider the ease with which you’ll be able to sell the property, should you choose to move in the future.

Check out our other guides if you need to know more about property issues such as offers and contracts or the conveyancing process.

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written by

Rory Cramer

Prior to co-founding HomeViews, Rory spent 13 years in the residential develo... Read all

Prior to co-founding HomeViews, Rory ... Read all