What does a share of freehold mean?

Is there still a lease on a share of freehold flat, and why are companies normally involved in the ownership?
Question: Can you explain what is meant by a share of a freehold flat? Is there still a lease? I thought that most freeholds were owned by companies.
 
Answer: Most apartments are leasehold, which means that you will have a contract that entitles you to occupy the flat for the term of the lease. For instance, it may be for 99 or 999 years. However, you do not own the building or the grounds in which the flat is located.
 

The building will be owned by the freeholder, which as you rightly say is often a company.
 
The owners of leasehold flats can buy the freehold of the building, but this is usually through a company in which each of the owners of the flats has a share.
 
The company is a separate legal personality from the flat owners and it will own the freehold.
 
A share of the freehold is therefore technically incorrect because the leaseholder has a share in the company that owns the freehold.
 
It is actually an efficient way of managing a block of flats, as the leaseholders who are members of the company owning the freehold are in control or have a say regarding the management of the building, for example in relation to service charges for maintenance repairs.
 
What's your problem?
If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (fiona.mcnulty@footanstey.com)
 
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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