Glossary of terms for leaseholders

The following is a list of terms that are often used concerning leasehold and freehold properties.

Common parts - those parts of the building enjoyed by everyone and not forming an exclusive part of anybody's flat.

First Tier Tribunal (Property) - part of the formal courts and tribunals system where judgements are made about service charge disputes.

Freeholder - owns the land on which the building(s) is built. May also be the Landlord.

Freehold Company - a company that owns the freehold, the shares in which are usually owned by the leaseholders. Often described as 'having a share of the freehold'. 

Ground Rent - the annual charge payable to the freeholder for the continuing right to occupy the property. The amount payable will be set out in the lease. It may only be a nominal amount ("a peppercorn") or it may be reasonably substantial.

Head Lessor - the landlord may grant a lease of the whole building to a party (company or individual) who then grants 'under leases' to the leaseholders of individual flats. In this scenario, the Head Lessor becomes the landlord of the individual flats.

Landlord - either owns the building (as freeholder), has a long lease on it or is a 3rd party within the lease with rights to recover Service Charges towards the costs of maintaining the building and common parts and providing services.

Lease - a private contract between you and your landlord which sets out the rights and duties of both parties. Your lease will allow you to occupy the property for a fixed number of year: typically for 99 or 125 years when first granted.

Leaseholder - the person who has bought a lease which gives them the right to occupy the flat for a fixed number of years ("the term"). Can also be called the 'lessee', 'flat owner', but usually referred to as 'tenant' in legislation.

Management Fees - the fees paid to managing agents or the costs directly incurred by the landlord in managing the building and arranging the services. This is usually only a very small element of the total service charge.

Manager - may be managing agent or may be the landlord managing the property directly with their own staff.