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Property know-how with George

This month property developer, architect and presenter of Channel 4’s The Restoration Man, George Clarke, discusses the pros and cons of leasehold versus freehold

Freehold and leasehold are the most common forms of property ownership in the UK. I often feel that the difference between them can be skimmed over by estate agents as they assume that everyone knows the complexities of the ownership market, but the reality is quite different. Very few people understand the legal complexities and the costs and restrictions that can be imposed on you, particularly with regard to leasehold properties. The decision as to whether you are buying a freehold or leasehold home really shouldn’t be taken lightly at all.

So what is the difference? Freehold is the simplest and most straightforward form of home ownership. With freehold you are regarded as the ‘freeholder’ and you in effect own the building or the land outright with no other owner or landlord involved in the ownership of the property at all. The house is yours forever (in perpetuity) and the land registry will state that you own the ‘title absolute’. You are free to do whatever you’d like to do with the property under the usual planning laws and building regulations that apply to everyone. It is more common for whole houses to be sold as freehold properties, unless it is part of a large historic estate where the estate prefers to remain as freeholder. For example, the Duke of Westminster’s ‘Grosvenor Estate’ owns a substantial amount of land and buildings in Mayfair and Belgravia. The estate retains as much ownership of the properties as possible (they are the freeholder) but they grant leases on entire homes, apartments, retail and commercial property to generate huge amounts of income. The 500 acres of land his ancestors inherited north of the Thames in 1677 and then developed have made the current Duke the 9th richest person in England! Remaining a freeholder for many years certainly pays.

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About Your Home Magazine

Isn’t it funny, no matter how many years ago you left school, September always comes with an air of new beginnings and fresh starts. Whether it’s the kids going back to school, the older ones leaving home and heading off to Uni, or just us grown-ups fancying a new lunchbox for work or a fresh new look for our home. So if you’ve got the itch to make a few changes around your home, we’ve made sure there’s plenty to inspire you in this issue. On page 36 we take a look at the hottest trends on the high street for the coming season. From cosy woodland touches, glamorous metallics mixed with sultry dark tones, chic and simple Scandi-inspired pieces or flamboyant florals, we’re sure you’ll find something you’ll want to add to your home to freshen it up for the months ahead. And, if your kitchen or bathroom floor needs a bit of an update, then check out our guide to the latest flooring designs that are both pretty and practical (p.48). Don’t forget to check out our gorgeous bathroom makeovers too for even more great ideas to steal (p.24). Meanwhile, if your kids have flown the nest, and you’re considering downsizing, then do read our essential guide on page 106 to see if it’s right for you. Even if you’re not planning any major decorating projects this month, you can still get in the ‘back to school’ spirit, with our brilliant recipe ideas (p.100). Go on treat yourself to a new lunchbox and spoil yourself with our tasty lunchbox treats!