Last edited 19 Jan 2016


The term ‘freehold’ in property law describes the ownership of a property. A freeholder of a property owns the ‘title absolute’ of the property, that is, ownership of the land and any immovable structures attached to it, outright in perpetuity. The freeholders details will appear on the land registry, and the freeholder is responsible for any maintenance and repair works. Freeholders may also be referred to as 'landlords' or 'lessors'.

A freehold is in contrast to:

  • A ‘leasehold’, which describes a lease from the freeholder that enables the leaseholder to use the property for a specified period, after which it will revert to the freeholder. Leaseholders are sometimes also referred to as ‘tenants’.
  • A ‘commonhold’, which is a form of property ownership for multi-occupancy properties that enables the collective ownership of the freehold of property.

A leaseholder may be able to purchase the freehold of the property (leasehold enfranchisement). This can be either by agreement with the freeholder, or for houses or flats, can be by right. A leaseholder may have the right to purchase a freehold if they have owned the lease to a house for at least two years, or, if they own a flat, they may be able to buy it collectively with other leaseholders (see Shelter, Buying the freehold of a house for more information). Leaseholders of flats will also normally have the right of first refusal (RFR) if the freeholder decides to sell the freehold.

Leaseholders are entitled to know the name and address of their freeholder.

Existing leases can also be converted into a commonhold, but this requires the agreement of the leaseholders, landlords and any lenders, which may be difficult to achieve.

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