Understanding Multi-Unit Freehold Blocks

multi unit freehold blocksUnderstanding Multi-Unit Freehold Blocks

Multi-unit freehold blocks (MUFB) stand as intriguing and often misunderstood entities, we often see borrowers wondering if they can finance a MUFB or whether they are a viable proposition for lender – they are.

As property markets evolve, these structures have gained prominence for their unique characteristics and investment potential. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or a newcomer to the property landscape, grasping the nuances of multi-unit freehold blocks is essential because they are different and lenders need to understand that you appreciate this.

In this article, we’ll look at multi-unit freehold blocks, its advantages, potential drawbacks, and considerations for those looking to venture into this segment of property.

What is a Multi-Unit Freehold Block? The MUFB

A multi-unit freehold block refers to a building or complex containing multiple individual residential units, each held under a single freehold title. Unlike leasehold properties where ownership is limited to a specified period, typically decades, freehold ownership grants perpetual ownership of the land and the buildings upon it.

Key Features of Multi-Unit Freehold Blocks

  1. Ownership Structure: In a multi-unit freehold block, the freehold owns the entire freehold title for the property, including common areas such as stairwells, corridors, and shared amenities.
  2. Shared Responsibilities: Occupants of the individual units typically share responsibilities for maintenance, repairs, and management of common areas.
  3. Investment Potential: Multi-unit freehold blocks offer diverse investment opportunities. Owners can choose to let out individual units for rental income or create leaseholds and sell them individually, potentially realising capital appreciation over time.

Advantages of Multi-Unit Freehold Blocks

  1. Control and Flexibility: Freehold ownership grants greater control and flexibility over property management decisions compared to leasehold arrangements, where decisions may be subject to the terms of the lease or the freeholder’s discretion
  2. Potential for Appreciation: Multi-unit freehold blocks, particularly in desirable locations, may experience robust capital appreciation over time, enhancing the investment value for owners. They also provide a spread of rental incomes so the impact of void periods is less harsh
  3. Economies of Scale: By pooling resources for maintenance and management, owners can benefit from economies of scale, potentially reducing individual costs compared to standalone properties. Purchasing a MUFB can involve higher legal costs though

Considerations for Prospective Buyers:

  1. Legal and Financial Obligations: Buyers should carefully review the legal and financial implications of multi-unit freehold ownership, they are more complex and it can mean getting utilities and services split among the different units
  2. Reserve Funds and Contingency Planning: Assessing the adequacy of reserve funds for future maintenance and unexpected expenses is essential to avoid financial strain in the event of major repairs or renovations
  3. Financing the MUFB: Lenders have different requirements when lending for a multi unit freehold. Whilst the split of rental incomes can insulate against void periods and provide comfort to the lender there can also be requirements for separate utilities, access, fire risk and in clearly defining who has access to where

Summary

Multi-unit freehold blocks represent a dynamic segment of the real estate market, offering both challenges and opportunities for investors and homeowners alike. With a trend for more large residential units being split into smaller units, the MUFB is becoming more common where a single owner retains full ownership of the freehold property.

As is always the case when it comes to financing or mortgaging a property, there are myths around the MUFB that don’t apply. An MUFB can be financed, it just takes a little more consideration and questions at the outset so the mortgage doesn’t fall over later. It is also important how a lender has asked the valuer to assess the property, as always the devil remains in the detail.

For any questions please get in touch.

By Dave Farmer