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Our lawyer Fiona McNulty on flying freehold and "positive covenants"
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Question: I am thinking of putting in an offer on a holiday home in a Cornish village right by the water front. My worry is that because the harbour properties are so closely packed together and are all different heights, it looks as though some of the cottage’s gutters, windowsills and even the flower boxes overhang the neighbours’ cottages on both sides. Also, I think that the study at the back may have been built over the neighbour’s kitchen. Should I be put off by these things?

Answer: Not necessarily. The study is known as a flying freehold. Your solicitor will need to ensure that there are covenants in place to protect both you and the kitchen owner. These are “positive covenants” which have to be renewed with each new owner.

You will need to get some indemnity insurance in respect of the flying freehold, especially if you have a mortgage.

With regard to the gutters, the windowsills and window boxes, you will need to show you have a 'right of overhang' - though such a right is often acquired by a long user.

It can be a complicated business, but not an insurmountable problem.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email regret that questions cannot be answered individually.
Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP

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