The Flying Freehold Law 1991 was enacted to enable units within buildings to be sold on a freehold basis, instead of by share transfer. For the purpose of this update, such units are assumed to be apartments.
The law provides for the division of a property into private units and common parts. Ownership of a private unit grants outright freehold title to an apartment and, where relevant, any garden, patio, parking space or store. In addition, the co-owner (so-called as it owns one part of the whole property) is also allocated a percentage interest in the common parts (ie, the structure of the building, shared access ways and commonly used facilities) and must contribute towards their maintenance and upkeep.
Regulations governing each co-owner's rights and responsibilities are set out in a declaration of co-ownership, which is registered before the first sale. Each co-owner is also a member of the association of co-owners, which is responsible for the management and administration of the collective property.
Each co-owner shares responsibility with the other co-owners for structural and external works to the common parts. Associations levy a service charge (usually monthly or quarterly) to cover shared expenses (eg, insurance, cleaning, lighting and repairs).
The purchase procedure is similar to that for a freehold property. A contract of purchase must be passed before the Royal Court on a Friday and stamp duty is payable by the buyer. Other relevant considerations are as follows.
Under the new Migration Law, those with full residential qualifications need no longer apply for consent to transact. However, until it comes into force, applications must still be submitted to the Population Office and are usually dealt with by the estate agent.
The collective property is insured by the association; therefore, a co-owner need insure only the contents of an apartment, including fittings and appliances, doors and windows and decorative finishes. This insurance should be in place at the point of completion.
Survey and valuation
A lender will require a valuation, but this is unlikely to address the condition of the apartment in any great depth. As contracts of purchase provide that an apartment is bought in its actual condition, a professional survey should therefore be considered that, in addition to focusing on the apartment, addresses the general condition of the collective property.
For further information on this topic please contact Jonathan Hughes or Julie Melia at Ogier by telephone (+44 1534 504 000), fax (+44 1534 504 444) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
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