Freehold / leasehold / fee farm grant
A freehold title is the greatest interest a person can own in relation to land or property.
A fee farm grant is a freehold title where the owner has agreed to pay an annual ground rent.
A leasehold property is held for a set term of years and is usually subject to a ground rent.
In cases where the ground rent is for a very low value (less than £1) it is described as “nominal”.
The Ground Rents Act
The Ground Rents Act (NI) 2001 allows homeowners of long leases on residential property in Northern Ireland to buy out (redeem) their ground rent. The Act also applies to residential property held under a fee farm grant, but there are certain exceptions set out in Section 3 of the Act:
- a lease which has been extended under the Leasehold (Enlargement and Extension) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971
- a lease with a residuary term of 50 years or less
- an equity sharing lease
- a lease of agricultural land
- a lease from the National Trust
- a lease of a flat
- a lease where proceedings for recovery of possession are pending
More information on the exceptions can be found in the Ground Rents Act (Northern Ireland) 2001.
How to redeem your ground rent
If you wish to make an application to redeem your ground rent, you will need to:
- obtain a certified copy of the lease or fee farm grant under which you own your dwelling house. If you do not have a mortgage, the document will most likely be with your other title deeds in a place of safe keeping such as a bank or with your family solicitors. If your dwelling house is mortgaged, the document will be with your mortgage company and you should be able to obtain a copy of it on request. Please note that many of the deed holders may charge a fee for sending you title documents
- obtain a ground rent receipt for your most recent payment
- complete application Form GR1 (or GR1 (N)) where the annual ground rent is less than £1 or if it is stated to be a peppercorn rent). This form is a statutory declaration (sworn statement) which must be signed by you in the presence of a solicitor, who may charge a small fee for this service
The application forms and guidance can be found in the link below:
Immediately after lodging your application with the Land Registry you must give notice of your application to the rent owner by completing Form GR2 (or GR2 (N)) where the annual ground rent is less than £1 or if it is stated to be a peppercorn rent). The completed form and a copy of your lease or fee farm grant should then be sent to the rent owner.
The application forms can be found in the link below:
Sending in your application - ground rent redemption
Send your completed application together with a certified copy of the lease or fee farm grant and a cheque or postal order (made payable to “DFP General Account”) for the redemption of your ground rent, any ground rent arrears and the Land Registry fee (currently £50) in an envelope to:Land Registry
Land & Property Services
7 Lanyon Plaza
Information on how much it will cost to redeem your ground rent can be found in the Redemption of ground rent forms and guidance.
Land & Property Services (LPS) is unable to accept applications made in person or those accompanied by cash.
As LPS aims to complete these registrations as quickly as possible, an acknowledgement will not be issued. If you have concerns about LPS receiving your application, you may wish to consider lodging your application by recorded delivery post.
The effect of ground rent redemption
Once you have bought out (redeemed) your ground rent, you own the freehold and are no longer obligated to pay a ground rent
The property will still be subject to existing interests eg rights of way and covenants (agreements) as set out in the Ground Rents Act (Northern Ireland) 2001 will continue.
Certificate of Redemption
When your application has been finalised, you will be issued with a Certificate of Redemption as evidence that your ground rent has been redeemed. This Certificate forms part of the title deeds to your property and will contain a note stating that it should be placed with the remaining title deeds relating to your land.
Once you have the ground rent certificate you may wish to make a separate application to the Land Registry to have the property registered as freehold. You may need to seek independent legal advice for completing the correct forms for this registration.
Registration of the freehold estate
The Certificate of Redemption should be lodged with the Land Registry or Registry of Deeds as appropriate. The Land Registry Rules have been amended as set out in the Land Registration (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2002 and the requirements and necessary forms are included.
- if the lease is registered in the Land Registry but the freehold title is not, an application should be made using Form 66A (or by a solicitor’s certificate to the same effect)
- if the lease is not registered in the Land Registry but the freehold title is, an application should be made using Form 66B (or by a solicitor’s certificate to the same effect)
- if both the lease and the freehold are registered in the Land Registry an application should be made using Form 66C (or by a solicitor’s certificate to the same effect)
The Registry of Deeds Rules are set out in the Registration of Deeds Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997 and the requirements and necessary forms (Form 1 and Form 2) are set out there. The application should include the Certificate of Redemption issued by the Land Registry and the fee (currently £15).
Sending in your application - registration of freehold
You should send your completed form (above) together with a Form 100A, Certificate of Redemption and the fee (currently £190 for postal applications) to:Land Registry
Land & Property Services
7 Lanyon Plaza
- Buying out your ground rent
- Land registration publications
- Land registry forms
- The Property (Northern Ireland) Order 1997
- Ground Rents (Multiplier) Order (Northern Ireland) 2002