Does "Registered Owner" mean "freeholder"

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    Does "Registered Owner" mean "freeholder"

    Hi,
    I own a house (no 177), and for the first 5 years or so I paid my ground rent (£15 p.a.) to the neighbour at no 175 who I believed to be the freeholder. However in 2005 no 175 changed hands and I didn't hear anything about the ground rent after that. I'm now selling the house, so I need to get receipts for the last 2 years. However the new owner of 175 doesn't think he is the freeholder. I managed to contact the previous owner of 175, and he said he used to collect it on behalf of "an old lady" who was the freeholder, and number 175's duty was to collect it on her behalf. But he doesn't have any of her details. (If at this point you are tending to think the previous owner was a conman I would point out that he was a vicar so I tend to believe him).
    I've downloaded a copy of my Title Register and it has the following at the top:
    Title Number : xxxxx
    Address of Property : 175, 177, 179 and 181 xxxx Road, Sheffield
    Price Stated : Not Available
    Registered Owner(s) : PHILIP JAMES XXXX and MICHELLE ANNE XXX of 175
    XXXXXX Road, Sheffield XX XXX.
    Lender(s) : HSBC Bank PLC

    The Registered Owner mentioned is the new owner of 175.
    Does "Registered Owner" in this context mean freeholder?
    This is the title register for my house, no 177, so for him to be the Registered Owner suggests to me he's the freeholder. Is it possible he is, and he didn't know? He (the new owner) tells me no-one mentioned anything to do with ground rent to him when he bought 175 in 2005. Does this lend support to the idea that he is the freeholder?
    Wold appreciate any help.
    Thanks,
    Dean

    #2
    If the title is for a number of houses then does it say somewhere that it is freehold? It should do.

    You should also have a leasehold title just for your house which should give you as the registered proprietor.

    I think you may have done an address search on the HMLR website. This would logically show two titles for you property - one leasehold (presumably just for your house) and one freehold for a number of properties. (It can get more complicated with intermediate leases and so forth - but if the title you have been referring to says it is freehold then that won't apply.)

    My guess is that what has happened is that at some point the owner of several house sold the whole freehold to the then owner of 175 and so every time that house changes hands the freehold of some neighbouring houses goes with it.

    Does that make sense?
    RICHARD WEBSTER

    As a conveyancing solicitor I believe the information given in the post to be useful (provided it relates to property in England & Wales) but I accept no liability except to fee-paying clients.

    Comment


      #3
      Hi Richard,
      Many thanks for your reply. You are right - I did the address search and there was a choice of two titles. I just assumed it was a glitch with the website and selected the first one, but I've gone back and selected the second, and as exactly as you say it is only for my house and names me as the owner.
      However, the first title, covering the 4 houses, is leasehold, so I guess we are into the position of intermediate leases that you refer to. So the lease for my house is a sub-lease (? don't know the correct terminology) of the one for all 4 houses. The freeholder who granted that higher lease is the old lady who has gone missing.
      In this position, am I just safe to pay my part of the ground rent to the higher leaseholder (no 175), get a receipt, and my sale will be ok? Or do I need to try to find the absent freeholder? Also will I need to track down copies of the lease between me and the higher lease and/or the higher lease and the freeholder?
      Thanks,
      Dean

      Comment


        #4
        Pay your ground rent to your immediate landlord/lessor and get a receipt. Hope the buyer's solicitors don't ask for details of the freehold!

        Jeffrey is in Sheffield so he may know a lot more detail than me - but where I am in the Southampton/Eastleigh area of Hampshire we have some similar situations.

        Essentially it is likely that the freeholder has disappeared or is not contactable. The freehold is probably unregistered - you can check this by carrying out an index search at the Land Registry - phone them up and you can usually download the relevant form as a pdf.

        If it is unregistered it means that it hasn't changed hands for money since Sheffield became an area of compulsory registration which must be 20-30 years ago or more (Jeffrey will know the precise date). The kind of thing that happens is that a freeholder dies and his family deal with his estate but can't be bothered to muck about with the ground rents which they see as a pain and not worth collecting - so the lessees don't hear anything and when they try to make contact years later the people concerned have died/moved away.

        You may find that both the titles are "Good Leasehold". This is a technicality which causes non local solicitors to get ever so excited but I think it bores Sheffield solicitors silly because it is so common. For some reason mortgage lenders are not happy with these titles and require a Good Leasehold Title Indemnity Insurance (about £50-£100). If you use a local solicitor to sell he will know all about this and will probably refuse to provide one because he will think it is a waste of time and unnecessary (which it is) but can easily sort it out for you if the buyers insist.

        There's some background on my website at http://www.rwco.co.uk/southampton_leasehold_houses.htm

        where I explain local Southampton issues but I would imagine (from dealings with some Sheffield property - I have family there) that the issues are very similar.
        Last edited by Richard Webster; 03-10-2007, 12:35 PM. Reason: typos
        RICHARD WEBSTER

        As a conveyancing solicitor I believe the information given in the post to be useful (provided it relates to property in England & Wales) but I accept no liability except to fee-paying clients.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks again for your reply. They are both good leasehold, so I guess I will end up getting that insurance. Fingers crossed there's nothing more to it than that.
          Thanks a lot.
          Dean

          Comment

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