Leaseholders And Their Right To Buy

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The right to buy a property may be a legal entitlement for leaseholders in certain circumstances. There are many laws in place to protect the rights of leaseholders, and these often confer very beneficial advantages on leaseholders. In general, the longer the tenant has held a lease, the more rights that come with it.

Residential Leases

Leases can be obtained for residential or for commercial property. People who rent property should always ensure that they get a written leasehold agreement. They should also be certain to read the agreement carefully, as it is legally binding. It will clearly state the responsibilities of both the leaseholder and the landlord.
The lease should also clearly state under what conditions the landlord can terminate the lease, and this is an area that a tenant should pay particular attention to.

It is not uncommon for landlords to put property on the market when there are sitting tenants in the property. There is no guarantee that the new property owner will want to keep to those tenants. However, tenants have a right to buy, and the landlord must first give them that option before seeking a third party purchaser. That option will have to be exercised within a specified period. If not, the landlord can sell to a third party.


When you own a lease, you do not own the property, even though you will have the right to use that property. Leaseholds can be short term, medium term, or long term, and can range from just a few weeks to several hundred years. Regardless of the duration, once the lease reaches its end date, you no longer have any rights to use that property. In recent years, new laws have been enacted that give leaseholders the right to buy their properties in certain instances.

The incentive to exercise right to buy options is often down to actions by landlords to maximise earnings from properties they have rented out. This can be done by charging extremely high maintenance or service fees. Tenants may also choose to buy their properties rather than let the landlord sell them to a third party.

It is not uncommon for all the tenants in a block of flats, for example, to come together as a group and exercise their right to buy. As you might expect, this is a process that involves taking legal action, so it is essential to use the services of solicitors or barristers who are experts in this area.


When a dispute arises between landlord and tenant, it is always best to seek an amicable resolution to the problem first. If the two parties find they cannot agree, then they have the option of using an arbitration or mediation service. The final option is to let a court decide on the dispute. The latter option is the most expensive, and is best undertaken only when all other avenues have been explored.

One of the best ways to sort out any dispute is to exercise the right to buy that exists in current legislation. Leaseholders who become freeholders no longer have any landlord, so whatever the dispute was about will no longer be relevant.

Legal advice

It would be extremely foolhardy to undertake any property purchase without legal advice, and that includes purchases made under right to buy legislation. Property law can be quite complex, and it is important that would-be purchasers using right to buy do not end up replacing the headache of having a landlord with an even more intractable one.

Clearly, there will be fees attached to the legal advice, and that, and other costs, must be factored into the overall budget that will be required to exercise the right to buy. It is highly advisable to seek legal advice at the outset, as processing a property transaction can take quite some time. In certain cases, delays could mean the tenant loses the right to buy.

Commercial property

There are different laws in operation when it comes to commercial property, and the rights of commercial tenants are not as strongly protected as those of private tenants. Nevertheless, there are protections in place. If you are a commercial leaseholder wondering if you have the right to buy, you need to talk with your legal advisor.

Contact Stewart Patterson Barrister

Further resources:

Full descriptions of my services that relate to this can be found here: Building & Construction problems or Mediation and Arbitration Services
You can find more general information on civil law (common law) on the Wikipedia Civil Law page.

Contact Information

We wholeheartedly welcome you to contact us regarding any legally related issues or concerns. We're easy to talk with and will very quickly steer you in the right direction.

Stewart Patterson
Barrister, Mediator & Arbitrator

Pump Court Chambers,
31 Southgate Street,
SO23 9EB
Tel: 01962 690061
Fax: 0845 259 3240
DX: 2514 Winchester