Learn the difference between freehold and leasehold

Leasehold vs Freehold: Essential Guide for UK Homebuyers

14 June 2024 | Written by Innovus

Asset Management

Purchasing a property is likely one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. As such, it’s crucial to understand the different types of property ownership when buying a home in the UK. The two main forms of ownership are leasehold and freehold – and there are some significant differences between the two that every homebuyer should be aware of.

What is a Leasehold Property?

A leasehold property is one where you own the right to live in and use the property for a fixed period of time, typically ranging from 99 to 999 years when first purchased. However, you do not own the land that the property sits on – this is owned by a third party known as the freeholder.

As a leaseholder, you are essentially a tenant, albeit for a very long period. In addition to the purchase price, you are required to pay ground rent to the freeholder on an annual basis, as well as service charges to cover the maintenance of communal areas like hallways, gardens and exteriors.

The lease is a legally binding agreement that sets out your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder. When the lease expires, ownership reverts back to the freeholder unless you have extended the lease or purchased the freehold during your ownership period.

What is a Freehold Property?

In contrast, with a freehold property you own the house or flat outright, as well as the land it stands on – permanently. There is no time-limited lease involved and no ground rent or service charges to pay (aside from standard council taxes).

As a freeholder, you have complete ownership of the property. This means you are solely responsible for the maintenance and any required repairs or renovations. You also have more flexibility over making alterations compared to a leaseholder.

While there are fewer ongoing costs with a freehold property, this comes with the trade-off of higher purchase prices and the burden of covering all repair costs yourself.

Key Differences Between Leasehold and Freehold

Now that we’ve covered the basics of each ownership type, let’s take a closer look at the key differences:

Ownership Rights: With a leasehold, you have temporary ownership for the lease duration. A freehold grants you permanent, outright ownership.

Ground Rent & Service Charges: Leaseholders pay annual ground rent to the freeholder, plus service charges for shared areas. Freeholders do not pay these fees.

Lease Term: Leaseholds have a finite lease length, typically long but will expire eventually if not extended. Freeholds have indefinite ownership.

Property Renovation: Leaseholders may have rules around home renovations/alterations. Freeholders have more flexibility.

Repairs & Maintenance: Leaseholders pay for internal repairs, freeholder covers exterior/communal areas. Freeholders are solely responsible.

Communal Areas: Leaseholders share responsibility and costs for maintaining shared spaces. Freeholders manage independently.

Resale Value: A shorter lease can make a leasehold property less valuable over time. Freeholds tend to hold value better.

Pros and Cons of Leasehold Properties


  • Often more affordable than freehold equivalents
  • Shared responsibility for maintenance can reduce costs
  • Fees like ground rent can be regulated
  • Potential to extend the lease or buy the freehold


  • You don’t actually own the property permanently
  • Ground rent and service charges are payable indefinitely
  • Value can decrease as the lease shortens, making re-sale harder
  • Less control over home renovations/alterations
  • Lease extensions can be very expensive

Pros and Cons of Freehold Properties


  • You have permanent, outright ownership
  • No ground rent or service charges to pay
  • More control over property renovations/changes
  • Resale value usually higher and easier
  • You own the land the property sits on


  • Higher upfront purchase costs
  • Solely responsible for all repair/maintenance costs
  • Can be harder to find a comparable property to buy
  • More involvement required in property management
  • May face challenges with nearby leaseholders

Important Factors to Consider

Remaining Lease Term: For leaseholds, look closely at how many years remain on the lease. Extending gets more expensive with shorter leases (<80 years).

Service Charges & Ground Rent: Understand all the fees you’ll need to pay annually and what services they cover. Check for any review provisions that could increase costs.

Buying the Freehold: As a leaseholder, you may have the option to buy the freehold and become the outright owner. This involves premium costs.

Lease Extensions: Extending your lease can be a way to preserve property value as a leaseholder, but costs rise significantly with shorter leases.

How Innovus Can Help

At Innovus, we provide expert leaseholder asset management services. We act as an informed, professional point of contact for leaseholders in managing their property investments.

Our team has extensive experience and knowledge across both leasehold and freehold properties. We can advise on negotiating fair lease extensions, purchasing freeholds, service charge consultations and more.

With a transparent, honest approach and competitive pricing structure, Innovus is a trusted partner for leaseholders in optimising and protecting their assets.

Get in touch today

Our team of experts is here to guide you.



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