Disadvantages of Buying a Leasehold Property

Leasehold properties have become a popular choice for many homebuyers in the UK. They offer an affordable option to own a home in a prime area where freehold properties are expensive. However, the concept of leasehold might seem appealing, but it is essential to consider the disadvantages that come with it. So In this article, we only talk about the disadvantages of buying a leasehold property.

Disadvantages of Buying a Leasehold Property

Key Takeaways

  • Leasehold properties come with financial implications. Like service charges that can increase over time.
  • Homeowners face limitations on property improvements. They need to get permission from the freeholder.
  • Leasehold properties have a limited lifespan and the lease extension process can be costly and complicated.

Overview of Leasehold Property

Leasehold property is a type of property where the buyer owns the property for a fixed period of time. It typically ranges from 99 to 999 years. But you can also buy a leasehold property for less than 99 years. After ending the lease period, ownership of the property goes back to the freeholder.

Leasehold properties are commonly found in the UK, particularly in cities where space is at a premium. Flats and apartments are typically sold as leasehold property in the UK. But you can also buy a house as a leasehold property. In fact, a significant number of houses are sold as leasehold in the UK.

In the past, when you buy a leasehold property, you have to pay ground rent to the freeholder. But in recent changes in law, you don’t need to pay ground rent for newly purchased leased property. However, old leasehold property still needs to pay ground rent to the freeholder.

Leasehold properties have some advantages. Like affordable prices and low maintenance. However, they also have several disadvantages, which are discussed in the following sections.

Disadvantages of Buying a Leasehold Property

  1. Property Modifications: Buyers face restrictions on property improvements.
  2. Limited Lifespan: Leasehold properties have a finite lifespan, typically 99 to 999 years.
  3. Lease Extension Challenges: Extending a lease is a complex and costly process.
  4. Fast Devaluation: Leasehold properties devalue faster due to their limited lifespan.
  5. Difficulty in Selling: Selling a leasehold property can be challenging due to decreasing value.
  6. Disputes with Freeholder: Leaseholders may face legal issues, including disputes with the freeholder.
  7. Risk of Forfeiture: The risk of forfeiture exists if leaseholders breach terms.

Limitations on Property Modifications

One of the biggest disadvantages of buying a leasehold property is the limitations on property modifications. Leasehold properties are owned by the freeholder, which means the leaseholder has limited control over the property. Any modifications made to the property must be approved by the freeholder. Also, sometimes freeholder charge a fee for approving the process.

This is frustrating for leaseholders. Because he can’t add an extension, solar panels, or change the layout of the property without permission. Sometimes freeholders have strict guidelines on what modifications you can do. That means you may not make changes that improve the liveability.

Leaseholders may also be required to get planning permission from the local council before making any modifications. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Also, there is no guarantee that the council will approve the modifications.

Also, the leaseholder may be required to restore the property to its original condition when the lease expires. This means any modifications made to the property during the lease period must be restored at the leaseholder’s expense.

The Limited Lifespan of a Leasehold

Another disadvantage of buying a leasehold property is the limited lifespan of the lease. All leasehold properties in the UK come with a lease period, typically between 99 and 125 years. Once the lease expires, the property ownership reverts back to the freeholder. And the leaseholder gets nothing.

Lease Extension Process and Cost

Extending a lease on a leasehold property can be a complex and costly process. To extend your lease, you need to negotiate with the freeholder. It may need legal assistance and a time-consuming process. Also Sometimes leaseholder didn’t extend the lease period.

The cost of extending a lease period depends on the length of the lease, the value of the property, and the location. The shorter the remaining lease, the more expensive the lease extension. And a property in a prime locations is more expensive to extend.

The lease extension process begins with sending a notice to the freeholder. The notice will set out the terms of the proposed lease extension. It includes the length of the extension and the premium payable. Then the freeholder has a set period to respond with a counter to the notice. This notice will tell you whether the freeholder accepts the term or offers alternative terms.

If the parties cannot agree on the terms of the lease extension, the matter may need to be referred to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for determination. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, and needs legal assistance.

Difficulty in Selling Leasehold Properties

Another disadvantage of buying a leasehold property is the difficulty of selling it. We already know buying a lease on a property means you just buy the right to live on the property for a set period. This means when the lease expires, the property reverts back to the freeholder.

When you try to sell a leasehold property, there are several factors comes that make it difficult to sell it. One of the key factors is the length of the lease. As the lease gets shorter, the value of the property decreases, making it less attractive to potential buyers.

Another factor that can make selling a leasehold property difficult is the ground rent. I already told you that now the ground rent is zero, but the old lease property still has to pay the ground rent. Some leases also include clauses that allow increasing ground rent over time, which can be a turnoff for potential buyers.

In addition to the length of the lease and the ground rent, there are other factors that can make selling a leasehold property difficult. For example, there may be restrictions on what the leaseholder can do with the property. Like subletting or making alterations.

These restrictions limit the potential buyers and make it harder to find someone who is willing to buy the property.

cons of Buying a Leasehold Property
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Leasehold property devalues faster

Another drawback of leasehold property is it devalues faster than freehold properties. This is because the leasehold property has a limited lifespan. If it gets closer to the end of the lease, the property becomes less valuable.

For example, if a leasehold property has a lease of only 60 years remaining, buyers may be hesitant to buy the property. Because they have to pay for a lease extension to continue living on the property after 60 years. This will make the property less attractive for buyers. As a result, the value of the property will decrease.

Also, a leasehold property’s value can be affected by the lease terms. Service charges and other costs also affect the property’s value. If these costs are high, buyers may not want to buy the property. It leads to a decrease in its value.

Therefore, it is always important to check the lease terms and associated costs. Otherwise, you will face a problem at the time of selling.

Disputes with Freeholder

Leasehold properties often face significant legal issues, particularly disputes with the freeholder. The freeholder is the person or company that owns the land on which the property is built. They are responsible for maintaining the building’s exterior and common areas. To maintain the property, freeholder collect ground rent and service charges from leaseholders. However, after collecting the payment from the leaseholder, the freeholder does not maintain the building. Then disputes arise between leaseholders and freeholders.

The main reasons for disputing between leaseholders and freeholders are service charges, maintenance and repair work, and alterations to the property. These disputes are time-consuming and costly to resolve. Also, sometimes requires legal advice and representation.

Risk of Forfeiture

Another potential legal complication associated with leasehold properties is the risk of forfeiture. Forfeiture is the legal process, where the freeholder can repossess the property if the leaseholder breaches the lease terms. Common reasons for forfeiture include non-payment of ground rent or service charges, or subletting the property without permission.

Forfeiture can be a complex and expensive process. It can result in losing the house by the leaseholder. Therefore, it is important for leaseholders to understand the lease term to avoid the risk of forfeiture.


So there you have it, the major downsides to buying leasehold property. While it may seem appealing due to lower upfront costs but in reality it has too many problems. If you fully understand the lease terms and are okay with limited control over the property, you can buy leasehold property. For most buyers, a freehold is a better way to own a place and build equity without surprise charges. Leaseholds may work for some, but for many, the cons outweigh the pros.

You can also read


What happens when the lease expires?

When a leasehold expires, the property returns to the freeholder. As a leaseholder, you own the property for a fixed period of time, after which you no longer have any rights to it.

Can I make improvements to the property?

Any major improvements to a leasehold property, such as extensions, require consent from the freeholder. They can be denied or granted subject to certain conditions. The freeholder may also require you to remove any improvements at the end of the lease term. It is best to check your lease terms about improvements before buying a leasehold property.

Can the freeholder increase ground rent and service charges?

Yes, the freeholder can increase ground rent and service charges on leasehold properties if he mentions it in the agreement. However, there are some restrictions to prevent excessive increases.