“As a leaseholder, an absent landlord can be a major problem in various situations. However, there is usually a solution or a workaround, some of which are discussed below. Please do contact us for advice.”
Mike Hansom, Head of Leasehold Property Rights
Contact our leasehold team on 01225 462871. Alternatively, email us or complete the Contact Form at the foot of this page.
An absent landlord – or an unresponsive one – is problematic. Common issues include:
The landlord has ongoing obligations under the lease, including maintenance and insuring the property. In the absence of the landlord, leaseholders often attempt management of the building ad hoc. But that is far from ideal.
Nobody to contact
An absent landlord means there is nobody to contact if you want to:
Selling and remortgaging
Problems can also arise should you want to sell or remortgage your property.
There are several reasons a landlord is considered ‘missing’ or ‘absent’. The law – and therefore, the potential solution – differs depending on whether the landlord is/was a company or an individual person.
“The insights that you provided have been very helpful and confidence boosting.” MG
Missing individual landlord
If your landlord is no longer at the last known address provided, they are not necessarily ‘missing’. Therefore, it may still be possible to properly serve them with documents at that address. However, whether this “deemed service” is effective depends very much on the particular circumstances. The court must be satisfied that you have carried out a reasonable search. Typical investigations include searching the electoral roll, placing advertisements, and possibly even instructing an inquiry agent.
Your landlord is a company
Carrying out a search on the Companies House website confirms whether a company still exists or is dissolved. If it still exists, it is sometimes (but not always) possible to serve documents at the company’s registered office. Doing so has legal effect even if you receive no response.
“Until we contacted you, we truly thought this was an irresolvable problem. Thank you for enabling us to move on with our lives.” PH
Buying freehold from absent landlord
But what should you do if your landlord is genuinely missing and you wish to:
- extend your lease; or
- buy the freehold?
Absent landlord indemnity policy
An absent landlord indemnity policy is usually available for a modest premium. Absent landlord insurance is designed for the situation where:
- the landlord of a single private dwelling is missing, unresponsive or insolvent; and
- you cannot obtain ground rent receipts at the date of purchase of the property.
Buying a property with absent freeholder
Although not ideal, most problems associated with an absent landlord are resolvable in terms of making the title acceptable to a mortgage lender.
We are leasehold specialists, and our expertise is recognised by the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners.