Long residential leases
The Trust grants many leases of houses up and down the country. Some of these leases are ‘long leases’ in that they originally lasted for more than 21 years. This note is relevant to you if you’re a tenant of a long lease or if you’re thinking of buying a long lease from an existing tenant of the Trust.
This note sets out the Trust’s current approach to requests to extend long leases and how the Trust deals with rent issues and necessarily touches on some of the law on leases. However, it shouldn’t be seen as an authoritative statement of the law and you should always seek advice from a qualified legal person (such as a solicitor) who is acting specifically for you and can advise you on your own particular circumstances. This note sets out the Trust’s current approach but that may change from time to time so please always check with us before taking major decisions on things dealt with in this note.
1. Extending your lease
Your lease should set out when it starts and how long it runs for. As time passes long leases inevitably start running out. At some point you may well want to extend the lease.
1.1 Legal Right to Extend
Your lease may have a legal right for it to be extended. The most common legal right relevant to the long leases of houses owned by the Trust is the right to a 50 year extension under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. Your lease may qualify under this legislation or may already have been extended under this legislation. So you should always check with your own legal advisor as to whether or not your long lease has a legal right to be extended.
If your legal advisor considers you do have a legal right to an extension and you want to take advantage of such a right then your legal advisor should write to the Trust’s legal team at:
National Trust Legal Department
Wiltshire SN2 2NA
1.2 No Legal Right to Extend
If you’ve no legal right to extend your long lease and you’d like to ask the Trust whether it is willing to voluntarily extend your long lease, then you need to contact the Trust's local estate manager/rural surveyor who deals with your house, via our regional contact details.
The Trust has certain criteria it applies when considering such requests. These criteria, amongst other things, take into account matters such as the specialness of your house in terms of heritage and conservation.
If the Trust agrees (and it may not agree) that your lease can be extended then we will need to agree with you what you should pay for the extension. The estate manager/rural surveyor will outline the process to you.
Normally, you’ll be paying rent to the Trust – typically on an annual basis. The lease usually sets this out but sometimes other legislation may also be relevant – your own legal advisor will be able to help you here.
Long Leases which have been extended under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 (as mentioned earlier) normally have special provisions regarding rent – these are known as Modern Ground Rent provisions. Modern Ground Rent was part of the package of measures which Parliament introduced in 1967 when setting out the basis on which holders of long residential leases should be able to extend them. If you’re a tenant of a long lease or you’re considering buying a long lease you should ask your legal advisor whether or not such provisions are in the long lease or if they would be put in the lease if it's extended.
If Modern Ground Rent provisions are relevant to your lease then these provisions at certain points in time cause the rent to increase – potentially by a significant amount. Your own legal advisor should be able to help you understand when the rent will increase and how much it could increase by.
The Trust has discovered that some long leasehold tenants were not aware of the way in which Modern Ground Rents work and had not been properly advised by their solicitors or valuers when they bought their properties. So those tenants have been taken by surprise by the higher level of rent paid. In such situations, the Trust may, depending on the circumstances, agree that the amount of Modern Ground Rent payable can be reduced. Alternatively, the Trust may agree that the tenant can pay a one-off sum to remove the Modern Ground Rent altogether – again this sum may, depending on the circumstances, be on a reduced basis.
If you think this scenario is relevant to you then please contact your estate manager/rural surveyor.