Property Tenure in the Whole of the UK

If you live and reside in England and Wales, then you'll be familiar with the freehold and leasehold system. Few people know that leasehold is exclusive to England and Wales across the world, so why would they still hold onto it? It beggars’ belief. Read on to understand why.

Scottish Law

Scottish Land Law's vagaries are very different from everywhere else, but they don't have leasehold homes, well, a tiny percentage anyway. They have plenty of freeholds, but anything else is now known as absolute or outright ownership. The antiquated leasehold system has only recently lined the pockets of executives from various new build firms.

Since that debacle, the UK Government has outlawed leasehold houses and put other leaseholds under the microscope.

Scotland used to have Feuhold, which sounds medieval, and it was. Abolished in 2000, and all Feuhold was transferred to absolute ownership.

So if Scotland doesn't have leasehold, what does it have? It has absolute which is very similar to freehold and includes flats and tenements in the same tenure.


We're looking to buy a tenement flat in Edinburgh to rent out as an Airbnb for my retirement, so I've been looking into these mysterious homes. Here are some key points:

  • They predominate in Edinburgh and Glasgow and a few other places around the world, notably New York.
  • They were initially built to house the masses—those who flocked to cities during the Industrial Revolutions and needed cheap accommodation.
  • They are essentially houses built on top of each other, separated by the floor. And no more than 3 to 5 stories high, with a few exceptions. Many have been further divided or converted, so as many as four apartments occupy each floor.
  • Most were demolished in Glasgow to make way for high-rise blocks in the 60s and 70s, destroyed since.
  • Edinburgh, they remain highly desirable and fetch some eye-watering prices, en par with London.
  • They have period features, high ceilings and are very much in demand. Easily mortgageable.

Tenement Act 2004

But what about the common parts? If they are all owned absolutely, who maintains the public parts?

  • The Title Deeds and failing that, the Tenement Act of 2004 sets out procedures for repairing and maintaining common parts.
  • This Tenement Management Scheme forms an association of all owners, run by the Property Manager.
  • All members must pay costs and vote, with majority polling setting the direction.
  • Larger blocks can outsource the facilitation to property factors.

Very similar to leasehold in the management association but no dreaded freeholder who can employ her brother-in-law to do the Landscape Gardening at double the regular cost.

Will we see the demise of leasehold in England and Wales? Hopefully. Then new build firms cannot grant a leasehold on a house and charge a Ground Rent that doubles over time and then sell off the freehold to an investment company for a tidy profit. I don't know how the lawyers didn't advise against this, but that's a story for another day.

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