HMLR Information – Freehold Land and Property
Technically, the Crown owns all of the land in England and Wales and ‘land owners’ simply own the right to occupy and use this land; called an ‘estate in land’. Noblemen were granted these estates by the Crown many years ago and these, in turn, granted parts of their land to others, such as farmers.
Before the Law of Property Act 1925 was introduced, which now provides the basis of most modern land law, there were a vast amount of different estate types, but this act reduced them to two: Leasehold and Freehold.
What Does Freehold Mean?
Freehold basically determines absolute ownership, which is more or less indicated by its full name, ‘fee simple absolute in possession’. The right to use and occupy the property to the exclusion of all others (except someone who has a legal right over the property through something such as a right of way) is given to the owner of the freehold estate. This means they are free to gift, lease, mortgage, sell or bequeath the land as they wish. Whilst the Crown still technically owns this land, as long as someone is there to inherit it, this right will continue forever more.
Fee Simple Absolute in Possession – What Does This Mean?
This is the proper name that is given to freehold land and is broken down like this:
Fee – an estate in land
Fee Simple – a type of estate in land and the highest form of ownership, being an estate which is free from any restriction on how it can be disposed of
Absolute – indicates absolute ownership i.e. not for a limited period or until the occurrence of a particular event
In possession – indicates that the freeholder is an actual physical possession of the land (or is entitled to the rents and profits from it)