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Selling a leasehold property: what homeowners need to consider

Selling a leasehold property is a little different compared to selling a freehold. It comes with its own set of considerations homeowners need to be aware of.

Understanding these can make the selling process a smooth and successful one.

To help you on your way to selling your leasehold, we’ve put together a guide of key considerations to take on board.

Block Of Flats

What is a leasehold property?

Let’s start with the basics. A leasehold property is a property you own the right to live in for a set period, rather than owning the property or land it sits on outright. Think of it as a long-term rental agreement, except instead of renting, you have a lease from a freeholder.

As a leaseholder selling the property, you’re essentially passing on your rights under that lease to a new buyer.

Lease terms can vary but are typically quite long – often 99, 125, or even 999 years when first granted. The remaining time left on the lease is an important factor for buyers, as the lease term gets shorter, the property becomes less valuable.

The freeholder, while owning the land, has little control over your leasehold day-to-day. But they’ll likely charge annual ground rent and service charges that cover maintaining the building and any communal areas.

We have a guide on the difference between a leasehold and a freehold here.


Can you sell a leasehold property?

The simple answer is yes, you can sell a leasehold property. However, there are some extra considerations compared to selling a freehold property (where you own the land outright).

One of the biggest factors to consider is the remaining lease term left on the property. The more years left on the lease when you sell, the more valuable and marketable your home will be to buyers. If the lease only has less than 80 years left, it can seriously impact what buyers are willing to pay and their ability to get a mortgage on the property.

You may also need to get approval from the freeholder (the landowner) that they are happy for the lease to be transferred to the new buyer, but not all lease sales require this. You’ll need to provide the buyer with comprehensive info about the lease – the start date, duration, current ground rent, service charges, etc.

What’s the process for selling a leasehold?

Selling a leasehold property does involve a few extra steps compared to a freehold sale, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here’s a quick overview of the process of selling a leasehold:

  1. First up, you’ll need to get approval from the freeholder or their management agent that they consent to the sale of the lease transfer. There may be some admin fees to pay here for the freeholder to complete the LPE1 form.
  2. Before you market the property, you’ll need to gather all the relevant leasehold documents like the lease agreement itself, recent ground rent statements, and service charge accounts.
  3. If the remaining lease term is getting quite short (especially if less than 80 years), you may want to consider extending the lease before selling, as this can impact the property’s value and saleability (see our FAQs to learn more).
  4. Choose an experienced conveyancer who is familiar with leasehold transactions to handle the legal aspect of the sale on your behalf.
  5. Market your property and get an offer, once your property is under offer, the sale process can formally begin.
  6. Once you find a buyer, you’ll need to respond to any queries and provide them with a leasehold management pack alongside the usual seller’s forms. This is what the freeholder will charge for.
  7. It’s then time to exchange contracts, the property transaction will become legally binding at this point.
  8. Finally, you’ll reach completion day, when the sale is finalised, the keys are released to the buyer and they become the new legal owner.

If you want a more comprehensive overview, you can check out our complete guide on how to sell your property here.

Is it harder to sell a leasehold property?

Although there are a few more steps, it isn’t necessarily harder to sell a leasehold property when compared to selling a freehold. It is however, a more long-winded process and usually takes more time because of the need to involve the freeholder.

Like any property sale, some things could make it more difficult, but this depends on each unique sale. The main factors that could make a leasehold sale more challenging include:

  • The remaining lease term on the property: A shorter lease period will be unattractive to potential buyers.
  • Any disputes or issues with the freeholder: Ongoing conflicts make the sale process trickier and can put off some buyers.
  • Providing all the correct leasehold info to the buyers: It’s crucial to gather all the right documentation to satisfy legal requirements and buyers.
  • Handling the lease extension process if needed: Extending the lease before selling can avoid issues but adds an extra (potentially lengthy) part to the process, and it can be quite costly.
  • Clauses in the lease: Restrictive clauses like pet ownership or reservations could put off some buyers.

It's a little extra admin for sure but selling a leasehold doesn’t have to be a difficult task, you just need to be well prepared.

What documents do I need to sell my leasehold?

As we’ve mentioned, you’re going to need to gather a few bits of paperwork to sell your leasehold. Here’s a breakdown of those documents:

Copy of your lease: 

You’ll need a copy of your lease, this is your contract between you and the freeholder. A copy of the lease should be registered with the Land Registry. If you can’t track down your copy, there are a few places to check. The conveyancer who handled your purchase, your mortgage provider if you took out a mortgage and if those fail, you can request a copy from the Land Registry.

Documents (1)

Leasehold management pack: This is also known as the TA7 form. The leasehold management pack summarises the lease, including:

  • How much ground rent you pay
  • Service charges and administration fees
  • Any plans your freeholder has for major works/renovations
  • Details of the building insurance policy
  • Information on the management company
  • Asbestos surveys (if any)
  • External wall fire reviews

Alongside this, you’ll need all the usual paperwork that needs to be provided when selling a property. This includes:

Find out more about all these documents in our guide to what paperwork you need to sell your property.

Can you rent out a leasehold?

If you’re considering renting out your leasehold instead of selling, whether you can depends on your leasehold agreement. More often than not your leasehold agreement will outline one of the three following:

  • You can’t sublet at all, under any circumstances.
  • You can sublet if you get permission from the freeholder.
  • You can sublet without the need for freeholder consent.

If there is no mention of subletting in your agreement, then the appropriate step would be to contact a legal professional to have a look at your agreements and advise on the next steps.

Some leases may include additional restrictions, such as you can’t sublet a property:

  • In part, this means you can’t for example rent out your property and not your garage.
  • As a holiday or short-term let
  • For business purposes

If you don’t adhere to the conditions laid out in your agreement, your freeholder would be within their rights to take legal action.

It’s important to note that as the leaseholder, you would ultimately remain responsible for paying the ground rent and service charges, even when the property is rented out to tenants.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to sell a leasehold property?

It typically takes slightly longer to sell a leasehold property when compared to selling a freehold thanks to the extra paperwork and checks that need to be done.

It’s impossible to know how long your home will be listed on the market before getting an offer. That depends on factors like demand from buyers in your local area, how well your property shows, the asking price, and so on.

But once you do accept an offer, the conveyancing process generally takes around 10 – 12 weeks on average. It’s a little longer than a freehold sale, sure, but it’s not a huge delay.


How do I extend the lease on my property?

As a leaseholder, you have rights when it comes to extending your lease. It’s called Statutory Lease Extension and gives you a formal process to follow. You can extend you lease outside of the legislation if both parties agree.

Here are the key steps to extending your lease:

  1. You’ll want to hire a specialist surveyor to calculate the value of the lease extension
  2. You’ll then need to serve your freeholder a Section 42 Notice. This is a formal document that outlines your offer to extend the lease.
  3. They’ll have two months to respond – either accepting, rejecting, or negotiating your proposal.
  4. If they counter-offer and you don’t accept, you might enter a period of back-and-forth negotiations, which could last weeks or even months. Every case is unique.
  5. Once you finalise and agree on that premium cost, you’ll hand things to a solicitor to hand the legal lease extension paperwork. Then you’ll pay the premium fee.
  6. And finally, the lease gets officially extended for the agreed term.


What happens at the end of a lease?

Earlier we talked about why it’s so important not to let the leasehold term dwindle too low before taking action. And there’s a really good reason.

If your leasehold fully expires (reaches 0 years) and you haven’t extended or renewed it beforehand, the entire property and land (if relevant) revert to a freehold, and ownership goes back to the freeholder.

Even if you paid off your mortgage years ago and have no outstanding loans in place, letting that lease fully run out means you no longer have any legal claim to continue living there or retaining ownership.

It’s a worst-case scenario that you really want to avoid by staying on top of the lease term and renewing or extending it through the proper channels before it ever gets down to those critical final years or months.


Need conveyancing for your leasehold sale or purchase?

If you need a conveyancer to buy or sell your leasehold property, look no further than Eden.

We put you first, you’ll have your own dedicated property lawyer to manage your case from start to finish, and access to our 24/7 digital platform so you never feel left in the dark.

If you’ve got a question, get in touch, our team are here and happy to help.

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