A timely re­minder about ‘chief rents’

Rochdale Observer - - YOUR PICTURES -

THIS time of year is when ‘chief rents’ were col­lected. They are still fairly com­mon in the north west – es­pe­cially in Manch­ester and Sal­ford - and of­ten re­late to Victorian or Ed­war­dian hous­ing like our typ­i­cal ter­raced hous­ing.

A chief rent is prop­erly called a rent charge and is not the same as ground rent on lease­hold prop­er­ties.

If you are not sure if your prop­erty is free­hold or lease­hold, you can find out by look­ing at your prop­erty deeds or by vis­it­ing the HM Land Reg­istry web­site.

A rent charge or chief rent is an an­nual sum paid by a free­hold home­owner to a third party who nor­mally has no other in­ter­est in the prop­erty.

Most rent charges have ex­isted for many years, and are part of an his­toric sys­tem whereby land own­ers who re­leased part of their land for de­vel­op­ment could charge a reg­u­lar pay­ment from the peo­ple liv­ing on it.

The rent charge or chief rent is typ­i­cally a nom­i­nal amount of a few pounds each year.

It’s quite pos­si­ble that no­body has tried to col­lect it for many years, or that it has been for­got­ten.

We get enquiries ev­ery now and then, which of­ten re­late to de­mands from com­pa­nies who say they have ac­quired the right to col­lect the rent charge – as well as the right to grant per­mis­sion for any ex­ten­sion, which they seek to en­force ret­ro­spec­tively.

Since the Rentcharges Act 1977 no new in­come sup­port­ing rent charges can be cre­ated.

‘Ground rent’ is a sim­i­lar con­cept, but is only ap­pli­ca­ble to lease­hold prop­erty and can­not be re­deemed. You can buy (or redeem) your own rent charge.

Rent charges are only re­deemable for free­hold prop­er­ties. If you have a lease­hold prop­erty, you can­not ap­ply to redeem your ground rent.

If your prop­erty is lease­hold and you have any con­cerns, you may ben­e­fit from seek­ing free ini­tial ad­vice via the Lease­hold Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice’s (LEASE) web­site.

LEASE is a spe­cial­ist ad­vi­sory body funded by the Depart­ment for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Govern­ment to pro­vide as­sis­tance to lease­hold­ers.

Al­ter­na­tively, a tele­phone ap­point­ment can be booked to speak to one of LEASE’s le­gal ad­vis­ers on 020 7832 2500 (9.30am to 3pm Mon­day to Fri­day).

You can ap­ply to buy out (‘redeem’) your rent charge so that you no longer have to pay it.

If your house is one of a num­ber of houses charged un­der one rent charge, you may first need to get your share ap­por­tioned legally.

Cer­tain types of rent charge are re­deemable un­der the Rent charges Act 1977.

This means that you pay a sin­gle lump sum and af­ter that no longer have to pay the rent charge. The amount needed to redeem a chief rent is usu­ally six­teen times the an­nual charge. You should also note that all chief rents are due to ex­pire within sixty years of that Act – this is to say in 2037.

If you de­cide to ap­ply to redeem your rent charge un­der the Rentcharges Act the best way of do­ing this is fol­low­ing the sim­ple in­struc­tions on the govern­ment web site. (www.gov.uk/guid­ance/ rentcharges). You can also find the cor­rect form there.

You will need a copy of the deeds to your prop­erty.

You should be able to get this from the solic­i­tor you used when you bought your prop­erty; along­side the land reg­is­ter en­try for the prop­erty.

The rent charges team will con­tact the per­son you name as the rent owner and ask them to con­firm own­er­ship.

Once they have con­firmed, the rent charges team will tell you how much money you have to pay the rent owner to redeem the rent charge.

If the ren­towner doesn’t con­firm own­er­ship, the rent charges team will ad­vise you what to do.

You can get more ad­vice from us by phon­ing 0300 330 1153 Mon­day to Fri­day 10 – 4pm.

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