What is a flying freehold?

In the world of real estate, you may have heard the term ‘flying freehold’ being used. Flying freehold refers to an instance when a freehold property is built over land which does not form part of the property, one of which overhangs or projects out from underneath the other property.

Flying freehold meaning : What you need to know

When you are buying or selling a freehold property, flying freehold is an important concept that needs to be understood. It is a legal term to cover a range of different scenarios, such as:

  • If the property is a maisonette
  • If a part of the property reaches over a neighbour’s garage
  • If there is a balcony that hangs above someone else’s land
  • If a room is located underneath a different room belonging to a neighbour
  • If there is a part of a property situated above a shared alleyway
  • If there is a cellar that goes underneath someone else’s property

Having a part of a property that comes under the flying freehold category can make no difference to your day-to-day life but can present a problem if you are looking to buy or sell the property.

Does flying freehold make selling more difficult?

Although flying freehold can sometimes be an issue when you are buying or selling a property, this should not put you off. In most cases, it is dealt with without a hitch, but it is certainly a consideration for the legal side of the proceedings for a conveyancing solicitor.

Problems from flying freehold

There can sometimes be issues that need to be resolved before the sale goes through. Common problems associated with flying freehold are determining whose responsibility it is for carrying out home repairs, problems with access arrangements and resolving challenges when there are new owners. People who are looking to buy a flying freehold property can also potentially find challenges in securing a mortgage.

Home Repairs

If there is an issue with the area in question that needs repair, for example, it can sometimes be a grey area over whose responsibility it is to organise and pay for the repair. This also applies to maintenance. Sometimes an area of disrepair can have an impact on both properties.

The reality is, however, that most homeowners do not let their property fall into a state of disrepair and, therefore, this would not normally be an issue.

New Owners

When a new owner moves in it is important that a good relationship is built between the two homeowners. This can make it much easier to resolve any issues in a friendly manner, without causing tension between neighbours. It is, therefore recommended that new owners forge a good relationship with their neighbours when they move in.

If you are moving into a new property with a flying freehold, your solicitor should be able to define what your rights to access are with regard to your neighbour’s property to ensure that any repairs in the future will be able to be made easily.

Obtaining a flying freehold mortgage

If you are considering buying a property that has a flying freehold area, it can sometimes be a challenge to get a mortgage. It is important to remember, however, that although some mortgage companies have specific policies relating to flying freeholds, many of them will determine whether they are willing to lend on these properties on a case-by-case basis. Lenders will want confirmation that the property has adequate rights of support, protection, and entry to carry out repairs as well as a scheme of enforceable covenants.

Should I buy a house with flying freehold?

There is no reason why you should not buy a house with a flying freehold, but it is also important that it is dealt with properly throughout the home buying process. You should be honest with your solicitor, enabling them to deal with it properly. A residential conveyancing solicitor will be able to advise you on whether they believe that it is appropriate to continue with buying the property.

It is often the case that where there aren’t adequate rights available in respect of the flying freehold there is an option to obtain flying freehold indemnity insurance. Indemnity insurance is usually a one-off payment and the policy will cover the inability to force your neighbour to repair for the support and protection of your property and insures against the cost of repairs to an area that is flying freehold. It means that should anything go wrong with this area you are covered by your insurance.

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Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Abigail Gray who is an Associate Solicitor