What Does Flying Freehold Mean?

A look at what is meant by the term 'flying freehold' and the implications it can have for property buyers and sellers.

The property industry is full of unique terms that describe and explain specific scenarios relating to housing. A ‘flying freehold’ is a term that you may have come across, but a lot of people aren’t clear on what it means.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what a flying freehold actually is, and what the potential complications are when it comes to buying or selling.

What is a flying freehold?

A flying freehold describes the section of a property which overlaps or hangs over or under another property. This sounds relatively straight forward; however flying freeholds can pose a range of complexities when it comes to selling or renting a property. Some of the most common examples of flying freeholds include:

  • Rooms that hang over neighbouring driveways / garages
  • Basements that go underneath neighbouring properties
  • Rooms above shared passageways
  • Maisonettes or properties that have a room on top of or below a neighbour’s room

Flying freeholds aren’t uncommon in the UK, but a lot of people are often unaware of what it will mean when trying to sell a property.

Potential problems of a flying freehold

Flying freehold

Although the majority of people with flying freeholds are free from problems, there are certain issues that can arise, especially in terms of legality.

It’s often unclear who is responsible and who is protected in terms of repairs and maintenance. For example, if the roof of an overhead flying freehold property leaks, it can put the risk of the underlying property at risk, but the owners of the underlying property may not be able to enforce a repair.

Renovation disputes are often the most common problem associated with flying freeholds. If work needs doing and the parties of the two flying freehold properties can’t come to terms in regard to access and costs, then difficulties can arise. This is often the reason why solicitors can be reluctant when signing off on flying free hold properties.

Mortgage implications

Whilst not impossible, it can sometimes be difficult to agree terms with mortgage companies and lenders when it comes to borrowing for a flying freehold property. Many lenders will have their own rules and stipulations regarding borrowing money for flying freeholds, and some mortgage companies will flat out refuse to lend at all. Usually however, a lender will look at flying freehold mortgage applications on a case-by-case basis before deciding whether they lend.

All things considered, if you are trying to sell a flying freehold property, it is best to bring this up with interested buyers as soon as possible so they are able to check if their lender will be able to lend in advance, rather than discovering the issue later down the line.

A possible solution to any mortgage complications is for an indemnity insurance policy to be taken out. The insurance is usually paid for by the seller, and some mortgage lenders will insist that sellers take this policy out when dealing with a flying freehold.

Having indemnity insurance in place should protect you if you encounter any difficulties with neighbours and it will cover any losses or expenses that are directly related to the flying freehold. However, this insurance policy doesn’t alter any of the housing deeds and it doesn’t give you the right to force your neighbour to agree to any property changes.

Other things to consider

Other possible solutions regarding flying freeholds include looking into the option to amend the property deeds. This can often be incredibly complex, but it can be worth attempting to establish who the adjoining landowner is and potentially discuss whether it may be possible to amend the housing deeds.

Another potential option is to revise ownership via a conversion to leasehold structure. Through this ownership structure, both freeholds are transferred to one of the original owners, however a 999 year lease is then granted to the original owner of the other freehold. This method can require a lot of planning and preparation, however it can remove many obstacles down the line in terms of property restrictions.

If you are considering buying a flying freehold, it’s always worth consulting with a conveyance solicitor to get their opinion regarding any potential issues that could arise further down the line.

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What is a flying freehold?