Ground rents and dead freeholders

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    Ground rents and dead freeholders

    I pay £250 a year ground rent for a leasehold flat in London. In the past this was paid to the managing agent (via a combined service charge/ground rent demand) but will now be collected directly from the freeholder Mr X.

    Except that Mr X is NOT the freeholder! According to the records held at the Land Registry, the freeholder is Mr Y. Well, Mr Y died about 5 years ago. These two fellows were business partners, so when one died, the other took everything over (or so I thought until I checked at the land registry). Where does that leave us re things like collective enfranchisement? Also is a ground rent demand valid if the person demanding it is (apparently) not the freeholder?

    Thanks.

    #2
    It's not possible to have a combined demand, as the ground rent demand has to be made in a specific form, which has no provision for including a service charge.

    I think, from your point of view, as long as the demand is in the above specific form, it will name the current freeholder, and, unless you believe there is fraud, in which case you should contact the police, you should pay it to the person that demand s says should receive it, which might actually be a managing agent.

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      #3
      Thank you. Yes I was aware of the problems with combined service charge/ground rent demands although it’s not something I’ve ever acted upon. All kept separate with effect from 1/1/2020. I suppose when the ground rent demand arrives, I’ll see whom it names as freeholder and take it from there!

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        #4
        With every cloud comes a silver lining...after a suitable period of mourning.

        Who is billing for ground rent? Sounds like it isn't the MA.

        Who is the landlord by name and address on the service charge bills and ground rent demands? Was this the freeholder and not some head lease personage?

        Sounds like you have downloaded the freehold title extract, so was the dead freeholder a sole person or a Joint Tenant or Tenant in Common with others, or an incorporated entity?

        Unless sole holder of the title, somebody had co-ownership of the freehold title but sounds like you know not in this case. If a sole owner, then Grant of Probate was needed to sort out the title. If sole owner left a will, the executors should have sorted out transfer of title by Assent. Otherwise presumably a sale would have provoked Right of First Refusal but who knows with leasehold in practice The Will by now should be public at the Probate Registry for a small fee. That should help you trace any beneficiaries.

        It might be the other fellow was a beneficiary of the title who somehow never got around to changing the title registry. Not sure how that should be okay but I am no lawyer. I just follow my nose.

        If you are clear from your bills over the last five years that the landlord was the deceased person and nobody else, I would wonder at the managing agent's legal right to manage the gaff. A contract cannot survive the death of one party. But this is leasehold so anything can happen.

        If sole owner died intestate without next of kin, the Crown takes ownership but doesn't bother doing anything to manage the estate. Lessees can buy the freehold from the Treasury Solicitor.

        So you have big things to investigate because not having a live freeholder is never ideal. How long are the leases?

        Besides, you could gang with neighbours and two thirds could apply to the County Court for a vesting order under LRHUDA 1993. The court can substitute any middle landlord to act as top dog. IF you get the vesting order you pop off to the Tribunal to establish the fee to pay the Court for the freehold to be registered on the LR.

        Work as a team of lessees and start writing letters. You'll likely need legal help to sort things out. Don't just let somebody take the ground rent on blind faith. How many flats are paying £250 a year?
        Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

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