Bona Vacantia explained to flat owners
Bona vacantia is a Latin term that refers to property that has no owner. In the context of flat ownership, bona vacantia may be relevant if the freeholder of the building goes missing or becomes insolvent, and there is no one to take on the responsibility of managing the building.
If the freeholder of a building becomes bona vacantia, the government’s Bona Vacantia Division may become the legal owner of the freehold. This means that the responsibility for managing the building, collecting service charges, and making decisions about repairs and maintenance will pass to the Crown.
As a flat owner, this can have implications for your rights and responsibilities. You may be required to pay your service charges and ground rent to the Crown, rather than the original freeholder or management company. You may also need to seek permission from the Crown for certain actions, such as making alterations to your flat or subletting it.
If the building is in disrepair or in need of maintenance, it may be more difficult to get these issues addressed if the freeholder is bona vacantia. However, the Crown has a duty to manage bona vacantia property in a responsible way, and may appoint a professional property manager to handle the day-to-day management of the building.
If you are a flat owner in a building where the freeholder is missing or has become insolvent, it’s important to seek legal advice to understand your rights and responsibilities. You may also want to consider taking action to try to locate the missing freeholder or to purchase the freehold collectively with other flat owners, through a process known as enfranchisement.* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*