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At Emmersons Conveyancing Solicitors our teams come across all kinds of unusual situations. The Tyneside Flat is peculiar to the North East and most conveyancers outside of the area have never heard of a Tyneside Flat Lease.
Our staff know how to deal with both types of Tyneside Flat leases. They can be very complicated to deal with if part of a lease is missing or the landlord of one lease cannot be traced. It may well be the case that the length of the lease needs to be extended. Some lenders will not loan against short leases. If such issues arise it will obviously take longer to complete your purchase. However, you can rest assured that our Newcastle Conveyancing solicitors will make sure that they get the job right every time.
It would be unusual, in the North East, to be a conveyancer and not have dealt with a Tyneside Flat. On occasion, our Newcastle Conveyancing Solicitors have dealt with lenders or other conveyancing solicitors not local to the area who have expressed concern. More often than not this has come down to a fundamental misunderstanding as to how the arrangements operate.
A Tyneside Flat Lease arrangement is used where there are two flats let on a “maisonette style” lease where each flat owner is responsible for the insurance, repair and maintenance of their part of the building. So the lower flat will usually be responsible for the foundations up to the joists on which the first floor rests and the upper flat is responsible for that area up to and including the roof.
There are two distinct types of lease commonly referred to as “North” and “South”.
The most common is the “North Tyneside” arrangement. This is where the freehold, i.e. the landlord’s interest, in the building is split in two; one half for the upper floor and the other half for the lower. The owner and occupier of the lower flat also holds the freehold interest in the upper flat and vice versa. This is so that the owner of each flat can enforce the obligations on the other flat owner for maintenance, insurance and repair of their part of the building. Issues can occur where the interests have fallen into separate ownership (for example the freehold transfer has been overlooked on purchase) but can be remedied quite simply as the lease will often contain provision allowing the owner of a flat to transfer the freehold to the other flat owner.
Typically with a North Tyneside arrangement the ground rent is a “peppercorn rent” (i.e. nothing), the leases are on 999 year terms and obviously there is no service charge given the respective flat owners each maintain their part of the building.
This type of arrangement still places the obligations for insurance, repair and maintenance on the respective owner and occupier of each flat. The key difference with this arrangement is that there are only two legal interests in the building. The first is the freehold of the building itself (for example 1 and 2 John Smith Road) and the second is the lease of one of the flats (2 John Smith Road).
In this case the owner of 2 John Smith Road would take a lease of the upper flat being all the land from the joists on which the first floor rest up to and including the roof. The “tenant” of that lease would be expected to repair, maintain and insure that part of the building and there would be corresponding obligations on the landlord (the freeholder of 1 and 2) to maintain, insure and repair the rest of the building.
There are a number of common issues regardless of which interest you hold. For the freeholder some lenders, and indeed some conveyancers, erroneously refer to the interest as a “freehold flat”. It is not. It is a freehold of an entire building but subject to a simple lease of part. The lease ensures the respective flat owners can enforce obligations against each other so from a legal stand point there is no real issue.
A freehold flat would simply be a freehold which “floats” above another freehold interest. As there are limited ways to enforce obligations between freehold owners those interests can be problematic; hence the lease.
If you require any help with the purchase or sale of a Tyneside Flat then our Conveyancing Solicitors wlll be more than happy to help you.
If you would like any further information about our Conveyancing Services or you would like a FREE Fixed Fee Conveyancing Quote, then please do not hesitate to contact us on:
Expert Conveyancing Solicitors- Newcastle: 0191 284 6989
Expert Conveyancing Solicitors - Sunderland: 0191 567 6667
You can also park opposite our Sunderland Office on John Street.