Know your rights on rentcharges

First published in Opinion

This is the time of year when many freehold households across South Lakeland receive annual ‘Rentcharge’ demands.

But what are they? When will it end? And how do you release your property from it?

Across the UK rentcharges are not common but South Lakeland has a lot of them.

A rentcharge, confusingly also called ‘Ground Rent’ or ‘Chief Rent’ is an annual bill paid by freehold homeowners to another person (the ‘rentowner') who has no other legal interest in the land. Rentcharges have existed for many centuries.

If you own the freehold of your property and land, then here are some things you should know:

  • The Rentowner cannot increase the amount of rentcharge without your agreement
  • All rentcharges will end by 2037, earlier in some cases
  • No new rentcharges have been created since 1977
  • To buy out the rentcharge (called ‘redeeming’) you can pay a single lump sum. To do this you complete a form on the Department of Communities and Local Government website. They calculate the cost for redemption, collect payment and issue a release certificate. This process is free and means you don’t have to negotiate with the Rentowner, who may be tempted to charge a higher lump sum or refuse to redeem the rentcharge.

Before paying your rentcharge this year, check the demand is valid and uses the correct language, if not write to your Rentowner and ask for corrections to be made. For more information take a look at www.gov.uk/rentcharges.

Free, confidential advice and help is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau on any aspect of debt, benefits, housing, employment and any other problems. You can contact the Grange or Windermere Citizens Advice Bureau by phone or in person.

Call 015395 33100 / 015394 46464. If you don't need us for advice, how about helping us by becoming a volunteer or making a donation? Not many people realize that we are a charity - see our website for details www.cumbriaruralcab.org.uk.

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